Day 21 – The Great River Trail

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Monday, July 3rd, 9:25 a.m. – Departed from Perrot State Park near Trempealeau, Wisconsin.

The Atmosphere’s Mood


Morning Conditions – Temp – 69 / Wind – Calm / Skies – Clear with high cirrus clouds moving in from the west.

Afternoon/Evening Conditions – Temp – Reached a high of 86* / Wind – SE at 5 mph / Skies – Clear with fair weather cumulus.

7:00 p.m. – Arrived at the Microtel Hotel in Onalaska, Wisconsin, 21.8 miles, 54,800 steps, 180 miles remaining.

Highs of the Day – 

  • Trempealeau – I really liked this little town; it just had a good feel to it. I wasn’t going to stop until later in the day, but felt compelled to as I passed through. I headed for a convenience store near the edge of town, got some food and Gatorade, and sat down in the shade near the store. There were so many people that asked me about what I was doing. One guy even offered me a beer for the road! I had to turn him down, but the gesture was pretty cool. It was also an excellent reminder of which state I had entered…:-)
  • People Having Fun – I took a break where the Great River Trail crosses over the Black River. As I rested there on a bench in the shade, people just stopped to talk with me. Many had seen me earlier pulling my recognizable trailer down the trail. Everyone I talked with was on vacation, and it showed in their mindsets and willingness to take the time to chat. In particular, I met a couple from Des Moine. They were biking their fool heads off, and hoping to hit 50 miles by the end of the day. Chad and Kelly – a couple from Eau Claire, Wisconsin – were also biking. Their objective was not to see the same scenery more than once, and they seemed like really fun and interesting people. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could bottle up that vacation mindset and let it out when we need it most? Maybe someday.
  • UnWine’d – By the time I arrived at Onalaska, Wisconsin, I’d been on the Great River Trail for nearly 20 miles. While a beautiful place to walk, the scenery doesn’t change a whole lot. I was ready for a change. The first place that came into view was a wine bar called UnWine’d. I loved the name, and decided to take a break on a bench outside. Ellen – the owner and proprietor – came outside to work on the front of her shop. We started talking about the walk, and she offered to send me down the road with a really good beer. After checking out her cool wine bar and having a very pleasant conversation, I stepped outside to finish the remaining 3 miles of walking for the day with a lighter heart. Thank you, Ellen, for your generosity and for lifting my spirits at the end of a long day. We will meet again. 🙂 Go Pack!

Lows of the Day – 

  • Back in the Saddle – Sore – There’s not a lot to say about this. The week staying with friends and my sister combined with the week I took off made me SOFT! I was tired and sore by the end of the day, and thankful for an air conditioned hotel room. 
  • Trail Boredom – Trails like the Great River Trail make for peaceful, easy walking. The scenery, however, just doesn’t change much. After spending the better part of day on one, I start to get a bit stir crazy. There needs to be a balance, but that is sometimes difficult to achieve. I was glad to arrive at Onalaska, and finish walking for the day through a more urban setting.

Keen Observations – Insects: Part of the original sin penance? – Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by what it might be like to see things through the eyes of a cat, a dog, a cow or an insect. What do they think? Do they think? What does a blade of grass look like to an ant, or a human being in the eyes of a house cat? Along that line of thinking, there are some things I’ve been wondering about as I’ve been fending off insects.

  1. Deer Flys – They’re just not that smart. Do they believe that if they can gain enough velocity and then hurl themselves at the mesh part of my hat like a BB, that they will reach the promised land of my shaven, sweaty scalp?! Also, they seem to like my iPhone screen, but they don’t seem to know what to do with it. Nor can their little feet make it work. So primitive…
  2. Gnats – These guys are fascinating. They always work as a group. The swarm follows you along for miles. Or does it? Is it possibly some sort of tag-team arrangement between Gnat communities?  So how does it work? Does one of them dare another to fly into one of the human “slime caves?” Or is it the “challenged ones” that just happen to do it? What must that be like? One minute you’re flying around, the next minute you’re slimed like a Ghostbuster and caught in a high velocity air stream heading straight for the ground. Do the other gnats laugh? Or do they say, “Gnatty was so brave to test the slime cave. We will immortalized him.” It is possible that I have too much time to think…:-)

Lessons Learned – The best connections always seem to happen when least expected. Also, the simple act of sitting down for a few minutes always seems to end in new relationships. Note to self: sit down more!


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