My last evening in Dubuque changed any plans I might have had rolling around in my little peanut-sized head.
When I returned to the Stone Cliff Winery for an early dinner (Tuscan pizza) and wine, I ran into three Harley riders from Wisconsin.
To make a long story short, Scott, Alissa, and Paul learned about my journey. After the shock wore off, we ended up having pizza and drinks together, and we discussed our plans for the following day.
We also took a sunset walk along the Port overlooking the Mississippi River.
By the time we ended the evening, it had been decided that I would rejoin them in the morning (Wednesday) for an early ride out of Iowa and into La Crosse, Wisconsin. I had not been up at 6 a.m. in weeks, yet I was glad to be nudged a little out of my late sleeping pattern.
I am after all a morning person.
Meanwhile, Jason (my airbnb host) was still trying to get a hold of his aunt and uncle (who lived in La Crosse) to see if I could stay there on the cheap.
All this transpired in just a few hours...
Life never ceases to surprise my new exploratory patterns.
I left the Wisconsin crew close to 8 p.m. back to Jason's to retire early; meanwhile, Jason and I briefly discussed my "checking out" process.
I was in bed by 10 p.m.
When my alarm went off, I jumped out of bed, showered, and finished packing.
Jason was conducting a cross-fit session three other people.
I completed my bungee cord packing action in record time, and said goodbye to Jason. (He would be in touch regarding his aunt and uncle's place.)
I rode back into town to meet Scott, Alissa, and Paul where they were staying. We were out within the next 15-minutes.
First stop: gas.
Our ride out of Iowa was memorable.
Not only was the scenery filled with agriculturally-splendid nature porn, I was also riding with more two other motorcyclists.
The latter was a first for me.
Paul led the trio, followed by me, followed by Scott and Alissa (they were on one bike). Because I was the slower bike of the three, they thought that would be the best option.
We exited out of Iowa via 52. Next, we jumped on Sherrill Road which turned into Balltown Road. Later, we took Great River Road back to 52 north. Then, we took a right onto 18 east into Marquette and Prairie du Chien. We ended the journey on 35 north.
Those back roads out of Iowa were a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Buckeye State.
Less than 30-minutes after this view, we stopped in a small cafe to have breakfast.
Apparently, President Obama had a meal there, too.
Following our delicious breakfast -- which for me also included homemade red raspberry pie -- we ventured back to our motorcycles.
When we went to start them up, all of them fired except for Scott's cycle.
We figured out it was his battery.
Miraculously, Rausch's Cafe sat adjacent to a mechanic's garage.
We walked right over.
Between three men, the battery was charged, and we were ready to go in just about 20-minutes.
It was decided to keep Scott's Harley running until he reached a dealer in La Crosse (for a new battery).
Riding -- with others -- is a group process.
If one person is not able to go, no one goes until all trouble-shooting is exhausted.
A lesson to remember.
The rest of our route involved more rolling hills and "amber waves."
Think... contemplative Japanese rock gardens (only with grain).
When we crossed over the bridge from Iowa into Wisconsin, I was thunderstruck with happy tears: call it feeling fortunate to have made it this far in the journey.
Unlike in Iowa, the Great River could be seen on the left side of the road.
We had to keep turning our heads to absorb all its grandeur.
Occasionally to the right of us, town folks would wave at us, and we waved right back.
Alissa snapped pictures along the route while Scott concentrated on the driving. She promised to send the images to me; I can hardly wait to see them!
When we reached a La Crosse gas station, I said goodbye to my new Wisconsin friends. While they researched where to find a Harley dealer, I hunted for the local library.
Not sure how Scott's bike is doing...
As for me, I had little trouble finding the large and well-maintained local public library. (When all else fails, look for Main Street.)
Thus far, Wednesday has been a steamy day here in Wisconsin.
I see a lot of locals in tank tops and shorts.
A sea of milky white arms and legs.
With Jason's (my airbnb host) aunt and uncle's address in hand, I plan on taking some more time to explore the downtown area.
The city has a well-manicured river walk which offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.
Surrounded by the river and by restaurants, bars, university and technical college campuses, this city offers quite a bit to this Florida newcomer.
Until we meet again, my friend.