African Connection links are now in the sidebar to the right, just below the My Travel section.

Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Monday, March 31, 2008


It has been a long winter here in Wisconsin. I thought I’d get in a fair amount of cold weather riding, but alas… Snowfall here threatened to break the all time record. And while we fell a bit short of that, we had way too much for riding. So, it was fake rides on the trainer for the most part. But that’s pretty much behind me now. Not that the weather is sure to cooperate, but I did unhitch the Trek from it’s tether in the basement and let it run free this weekend. Saturday was a 57 mile ride with Bill. The Trek (my Trek) was still in the basement, but Bill was on his. I no longer had the equipment advantage that I enjoyed when he was riding his mountain bike. It showed.

On Sunday I decided I’d let the Trek warm up for the season on Bliss Road. On the way to the climb at County YY, I stopped at the Hayfield Café. Here is a business searching hard for an identity. The gas pumps are now gone (for good, it seems) and the convenience store side has morphed into a pizza place. The café still occupies the south end of the building though. Meat loaf and mashed potatoes still a draw around these parts. And yes, they do still have chocolate milk, too.

I have been able to put away 825.2 miles so far this year, but only 210.0 outdoors. Just 5,674.8 miles to go to my 6,500 mile target.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rethinking Things

Saturday’s 45 mile trip through Stoddard, Chaseburg, Coon Valley and St. Joseph was only the third outdoor ride of the season. But that’s not what made it remarkable. No, it was something else. Something I saw on the ride. Something so unexpected that it changed the way I think about a number of things. Sure, I’d heard the rumors, but I wrote them off as simply urban legends. Here's what happened yesterday...

It was, so it seemed, a perfectly normal day. Cold, to be sure, but no snow, sleet or rain. And after turning at Stoddard, the wind was kind. Chocolate milk and a doughnut at the Coon Valley Kwik Trip provided fuel for the last and, as it would turn out, most eventful leg of the ride. Little did I know what was coming.

It happened pedaling up the hill on highway 162 out of Coon Valley. I was comfortable enough to be able to enjoy the winterscape, bare trees starkly outlined by the deep snow that has been visited upon our region this year. This under a gray, but not too threatening, winter sky. It was at about the halfway point of the climb that I spied it. At first I thought, “this cannot be,” but, looking again, I saw that it was, in fact, a raccoon. That's not so unusual, I can hear you say. But this was a LIVE raccoon. Never in a million years…

I guess now I’ll have to re-think my views on Bigfoot, Yeti and the Roswell aliens. If you follow the long white line long enough, you'll see amazing things!

In addition to this most unexpected sighting, I spied a young deer, two bald eagles right on the side of the road, a large turkey in flight ~ right over my head ~ and a pair of quail. Tells you what kind of winter we are having that all of us decided to get out on this day that was cold and windy, yet springlike in comparison to our so far harsh winter.