Saturday, August 23, 2014

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas 27. July - 2. August

After we spent almost two weeks at St. Paul we got the urge to have some kind of fast forward. For the next few nights we had only one night camping stands and since our riding days were not that long it was still enjoyable. We rode along the Great River Byways along Mississippi where we met a few Beemer riders from the rally.
Found a good spot for our award :)
Skippy all in blue - sponsored by BMW MoA (thanks!)
Hello Tracy! - we met her again on our way along the Mississippi
and "The Honey Badger" :)
We took the smaller roads and passed by places like Stockholm, Pikes Peak SP, Scotland county and saw several very long trains (I counted one to have 116 wagons). We decided to ride asphalt roads even though they were mostly boring, but better then interstate and faster then gravel – typical for the Mid West.
Stockholm - with significantly less inhabitants ;)
A few impressions from Goose Island:

We had a break at Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa.
Where is mom?
Mississippi river.
Those hummingbirds were fascinating to watch.
Amazing birds!
Plenty of those around.

The "curves" in flatland :)
Skippy relaxing.
My second puncture - both in the USA :(
Ulpu always want's to be in the tent, no matter is it ready or not! :D
Our campground in St. Joseph was not well located as it was directly besides an interstate. On the other hand they had all the infrastructure we needed (laundry, Wifi, power), the tent was all day in shade and we could play with girls on the nearby lawn. We were again quite behind with our travelogues and blog, so time to catch up.

It was Friday morning and I wondered what was happening. Maybe hundred of bikers passed us already (I could see them riding the interstate during our breakfast). After a quick search I figured out they must be heading for the motorbike rally in Sturgis. Last year there were over 400.000 people attending.

On the one hand I was curious to see such a mass of bikes and on the other hand, I can easily stay away from there. A short look at Skippy's face made it clear that this was not for us, her dose of biker rallies was more then full! Too many people, too noisy and certainly no place to stay with three little dogs! Since we were heading towards that area anyway, I needed to check that we come there after the event.
REALLY???? I mean whattheheck?
One big question to me was, which route to take towards the wild wild west. Route 66, the TransAmericaTrail (TAT) or which one? Route 66 offered the flair of “Born to be wild” and open roads, where as based on some comments we received earlier the myth was gone and the road would be really dull riding on our bikes. The TAT – a gravel only trail – offered much more adventure and variety, however since it was raining so much the past weeks (when I recall right, many areas got their yearly dose already by July) and the experiences we had from the UP Michigan, the TAT did not sound too inviting either.

During my search I came across a great ride report from an inmate called Canonshot. He rode with a big bike along the Pony Express and documented his journey very well in text and pictures. Besides this he shared the route in downloadable format with tracks and way points. The story fascinated me and Skippy did not object either and so we left from St. Joseph and followed the footprints of the legendary Pony Express on our way towards the wild west.

We started of on the HWY 36 and crossed via the Missouri river into Kansas. Soon after that we followed my own route of riding instead of highways rather some gravel roads of which some turned into mud roads and low maintained ones. We preferred gravel roads, they were easier to handle for both of us.
Pony Express monument in Saint Joseph.
Pony Express National Museum in Saint Joseph.
Ready to ride...
Pony Express saddle with four bags for mail
Oregon, California, Mormon and Santa Fe trails on an old map.
Pony Express riders.
Pony Express, Oregon and California trail crossed here.
Various trails and Pony Express on a modern map.
Chuck wagon loaded with household stuff and food for the journey.
Jacket of Buffalo Bill.
Plenty of chuck wagons along the way.
Jesse James's home in Saint Joseph.
Missouri river (check the railroad swing bridge in the background).
As I learned the Pony Express Trail went initially along what was called Oregon trail and California trail – a route which many settlers took in the 19th century on their way west before the rail road was built. To visit historic sites, monuments and parks brought a little variety in the otherwise monotonic landscape which offered basically four options:

A) the left side was soy whereas the right side of the road was corn fields

did I already mention that we saw plenty of soy and corn fields :-o

B) the left side was corn whereas the right side of the road was soy fields

C) on both the left and the right side of the road were corn fields

D) on both the left and the right side of the road were soy bean fields
 - sorry no picture as this was mostly in Iowa and Missouri -

The trees and grass fields were statistically not significant enough to make it into this list :D

Days were very warm, temperature in shade was just below 30C and riding in straight sun made us all sweat a lot! Lucky for me I had my summer gear which I did put on. Skippy gave in and change the following day to her very light jogging outfit – not the safest gear to ride, but at least the temperature was manageable for her.

Kansas Indian Monument (Tall Oak) in Troy.
Davis memorial in Hiawatha.
And again plenty of wildlife during our break at Hiawatha lake:

Next points of shooting in Marysville:
Sod house.

And various flowers along the road:

Really more pictures????
Broadway in Marysville.
Another Pony Express monument in Marysville.
Union Pacific decorated many many places in the west with their old locomotives ;)
 Replica of the Frank Marshall ferry crossing Big Blue River.
Hollenberg Ranch (Pony Express Station)
From here one could have seen the settlers and riders pass by.

The "romanticized life with chuck wagon and camp fire" (more later)
Our track 1300km in 5 legs
Another travelogue by Skippy

~ Wolfi

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