We emerged from our tent out into a clear crisp morning. The sun was already warming the chilly air, but not before we noticed the frost on the picnic tables! We stuck to the sunshine as we packed up our sleeping bags and tent, drying them out from the heavy dew as best we could. It felt good to be outside and moving, and we deemed the camping experience a complete success.
We knew we had a shorter ride than usual today, due to having altered our route yesterday. And with the change in wind direction, we had a tailwind for a change to help us make good time. So we allowed ourselves a leisurely breakfast at the coffeehouse, which had the added benefit of wireless Internet. That set the pace for our day. With brilliant sunshine, reasonably warm temperatures and quiet local roads, it was easy to enjoy our surroundings and stop for frequent photo sessions. We passed through a number of nice little towns, and the farmland became picturesque once more. I decided to focus on capturing images of Middle America, or America's Breadbasket as Rich likes to call it in honor of his family's farming heritage.
We took a short detour to visit Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park. There the main attraction is the woods, which is the largest remaining portion of the hardwood forest that once covered Central Minnesota. A short hike took us to Hidden Falls, which was both pretty and peaceful. We were sure we could see a secondary falls under the main flow, probably from water seeping through the limestone. Spring was in full force and the woods were filled with new blooming wildflowers. It was a nice respite from our cycling.
While Rich stopped for a snack in Nerstrand, I ventured down the street to take a few photos. Imagine my surprise when a motorcycle stopped alongside me, and its rider asked where to find Rich! Who the heck could that be? It turned out to be Randy, our host for the evening. We were staying in another Warm Showers home, and knowing our route, Randy decided to swing by and see how we were getting along. We shared a good laugh over that, got advice on the best roads to take, and Rich happily handed over a sleeping bag and tent for Randy to transport. Being a purist – for whatever silly reasons – I held out and continued to schlep my gear.
It was an easy peddle up to Northfield, where we quickly settled into comfortable accommodations with Randy and his wife, Lois. Admittedly, after camping the shower was especially welcome. Although Northfield is a nice town with plenty to explore, the idea of having time to relax proved to be a greater draw. We enjoyed a good meal and sharing stories with our hosts, and were happy to continue dallying right on into the evening.