Have Tent Will Travel

Day 5 - Chatfield to Mantorville 56 miles

Day 6 – Chatfield to Mantorville 56 miles

We finally did it. We are camping tonight. Just not where we thought we’d be. Instead of returning to the Mississippi River Road and staying in Lake City tonight, our route took a sudden turn to the West. We continued in that direction to Mantorville. Not even on my map.

The day started innocently enough, and with a wonderful diversion before we even began cycling. We stayed at the Oakenwald Terrace B&B last night, and came downstairs this morning to feast on a sumptuous 4-course breakfast. We hadn’t had time to explore the house yesterday, so our hostess took us on a thorough tour after breakfast. First, it is the largest house we’ve ever stayed in – the rooms are innumerable. Second, what we found so fascinating is that it is the family home of the innkeepers. So not only are the furnishings and collections of china, silver and figurines family heirlooms, but they have continued to be used throughout the years. We loved hearing the history of the rooms and seeing the beautifully preserved and well-maintained craftsmanship of the home. It is truly a treasure.

Rich at the long breakfast table
The front entryway
Oakenwald Terrace B&B

We headed off in the bright sunshine with the promise of good weather throughout the day. It was a later start than normal, but we had no deadlines to meet and a long day of daylight. We left town in good spirits, and aimed for Lake City. Our route took us Northeast, and as soon as we hit the open farm fields we ran smack into NE winds. This time our battle was compounded by the fact that we were in rolling farmland, so we had continual hills as well as the wind to contend with. And it appeared to be a losing battle. By the time we reached St. Charles just 14 miles away, we knew we were not going to make Lake City. Rather than continue to fight the headwinds, Rich decided the most prudent thing to do was to change plans, work with the wind instead of against it, and head West then North to Northfield.

Miles of farmland

Now I don’t give up easily, even when presented with good logic. So I have to admit to being an unhappy camper (pun intended!) at turning away from the river and ditching the scenic route we’d chosen. It didn’t help that our view was reduced to endless miles of mostly flat freshly tilled farmland with fewer trees and towns to break up the monotony. The road continued straight west for mile after mile, and we had to weave our way through Rochester and it’s traffic. It’s not a route I would recommend.

Our turning point came during a late lunch stop. Searching the map for a park for camping, we stumbled on the town of Mantorville. Not only did it have camping sites right in town, but it boasted a 12-square-block downtown that was all on the National Historic Registry. Suddenly we were re-energized! We had a destination and something to look forward to exploring. Life got a lot better again after that.

Rich setting up our tent

We found the campground to be a lovely area right on the Zumbro River. Like all other rivers right now, it is swollen and flowing rapidly – a wonderful sound to lull us to sleep. Our new tent set up easily, and we were soon off to explore the town on foot. We had dinner at an old restaurant in town, and finished in time to take some pictures in the glowing late light of the day.

The Zumbro River in Mantorville

Having our own tent and sleeping bags definitely lends itself to a high degree of flexibility, as today illustrates. In fact, I learned a new term on this trip – apparently touring cyclists take great pride in being “self-contained.” We don’t quite meet the criteria as we do not carry food and cook kits. We choose to limit our weight to just sleeping gear. But that’s good enough for me. I expect to be warm and cozy tonight in our tent. And I’m already looking forward to my latte in the morning at the coffeehouse down the street.

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