My son and I went bike touring/camping this weekend. Last weekend I was thinking it would be nice to have another stove, one to heat water for coffee and/or cleanup while cooking breakfast on the other. A couple of days later I stumbled on this amazing bike touring site, which led me to this amazing homemade stove site. I opted for the wood version (soon I'll make the gas one too). It's made from a tin can, a coat hanger and some tin foil. I was astounded by how well it worked; it boiled a pot of water in maybe five minutes with nothing but a handful of twigs, produced very little smoke, and left almost zero soot or ashes. My primary stove cost over fifty bucks; this one I got essentially free of charge. So cool!
I can't believe I'd never explored the area along the St. Croix River south of St. Croix Falls and north of Stillwater. It's just stunningly beautiful. Here are some random images shot along the way; Berry hoofing it up a killer hill, me with my rig and Big Chief Six Pack in Osceola, one of my favorite poems on the side of a barn, a girl studying her chemistry on a hammock in a farmyard.
I leave tomorrow on another short tour, this time up to a friend's cabin in Hayward, Wisconsin. I'll be going solo this time and handing out Little Boxes of Happiness along the way; I'll let you know how that goes.
It was very cold Saturday night, well below freezing, but we were well equipped for it and stayed cozy in our tent and sleeping bags. Sunday morning rose sunny and crisp and warmed up quickly, and again we were well equipped with cooking gear and breakfast provisions, most importantly coffee. I especially love my little titanium teapot; it's tiny, feather-light and beautiful. That and a French press pot made for a fortifying brew. As we sipped and broke camp at a leisurely pace (we didn't depart until noon), we discovered that we'd had overnight visitors with muddy paws. Then we had a visitor with hoofs! And the girls were on rollerblades. It don't get much cuter than that, I tell 'ya.
In my teens and twenties I dabbled in bike touring. I liked experiencing the world at bike speed, seeing, hearing and smelling things up close while still covering a lot of miles. It didn't hurt that it was great exercise and cheap.
Lately I've found myself dreaming of touring again, just getting on a camping gear-loaded bike and wandering out into the countryside with no particular destination in mind to see what I can see. So I got myself some nice panniers, fortified my camping collection with a few choice items (one-pound folding chair, tiny camp stove and teapot, super-comfy collapsible pillow, etc.), and set out on an overnight test run with a friend.
Our destination was Interstate Park, about fifty miles north of here, and our speed was slow with many, many stops. Our first long-ish one was here, near Marine On St. Croix, where I spotted this hand-painted sign advertising "Nest Egg Farm Eggs, Brown and Blue," and knew we had to stop in and get some these wonders for breakfast. We rolled up the driveway through woods that opened up to a lovely little farm full of every manner of pet, including chickens, peacocks, llamas, goats, cats and a loving old dog named Dakota. Bob, the farmer (he calls himself a hobbyist), couldn't have been nicer as he sold us a half dozen eggs for a buck and a half and showed us around his little kingdom. He was so soft spoken and gentle and sweet that we were sad to ride off. But we'll be back.
The eggs? Sublime. The photos don't do justice to the colors; each of them was a different hue... one of the white ones was a subtle pink and the blue one was a blue-green that I've only seen poor similarities to on Easter eggs. The yolks were huge and dark orange. And they were delicious.
Minneapolis was recently voted by Bicycling Magazine the #1 bike-friendly city in America, which I would not dispute after riding my folding racer in a number of other cities over the years. The Heart Of The Beast Mayday Parade on Sunday certainly reinforces that claim; for as long as I can remember pretty much every "float" has been bike-powered, and much if not most of the very large crowd arrives on two wheels. It's hard to find a tree, pole or fence to lock up to if you don't arrive early, and when you leave you participate in a bike parade of your own. Here are some artsy fartsy bike shots I took at the event.