We decided to start transitioning to an earlier start time in the mornings (to try to beat the headwinds), so we woke up at 6:30am and managed to pack up very quickly and get going by 7:45am, which usually takes 2 hours start to finish. We spent the morning climbing hills in the bluffs along the Mississippi River; the climbs were long and seemed steep, so they should be good training for the mountains.
We stopped by Effigy Mounds Park, the site of Native American mound structures that served a variety of different purposes. It was great to be able to learn some of the history of the area, especially about Native American culture and history, of which we have all been pretty deprived.
We had an uneventful afternoon (except that Cyrus tried cheese curds for the first time) and arrived in La Crosse, just across the Mississippi, in the early evening. La Crosse was the biggest city we had seen since Cleveland, and we were happy to be there.
We stopped for a snack at a vegetarian restaurant (a welcome change to see one of those) called Root Note, and celebrated three states in one day (Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) with a beer across the street at Bodega, a local brew pub. Afterwards we headed to our hosts’ house. John and Jo have a beautiful home and painted a wonderful picture of La Crosse for us, even driving us up a nearby bluff to watch the sunset over the city; we are sworn to secrecy about what the city has to offer, but, suffice it to say, we all kind of want to move there now.
We spent a wonderful evening with our hosts, and we are very grateful for their generosity and happy that we got to share some stories and some laughs. We headed out the next morning on an adapted route planned by John to avoid some unnecessary climbs to give our legs a break.