Sometimes you just need to get away, see something new, and just explore..solo 10/22/17

I used to only ride with others, thinking it was more fun. Which, sometimes it is more fun with people, but over the years, I have learned that the more people who ride with you, the longer you wait around and the longer every stop takes. Sometimes, I just want to ride. No plan, no destination, no goals, just ride. Find new roads to no where. See the countryside. Stop for photos of nature or roads or whatever. Stop at touristy places I otherwise just fly past. Solo riding has never bothered me and I Have never been more comfortable with doing it than I have in recent years. Its true what they say, if you wait for someone to do something with you, you may wait forever and never get around to it.

 I slept in, looked outside, saw sunshine, looked at the temps in the 50's and that was that. I needed to go! I took a quick glance at the Roadside Attraction app I use to find somewhere 'new' to go. I've been to Taylors Falls area, most often for fireworks across the border, but there it was! My destination. The Interstate Park - one on the MN side and one on the WI side. There were rock formations ('potholes') some nature inspired views, hiking trails, fun fall roads nearby... this was going to be a great day!!!

I gear up, hop on the bike and take the most random, unpredictable, and least busy roads I could to get to the east side of the metro and over towards Taylors Falls. I've never been a fan of just freeway riding if I dont have to. I mean, if I want to cover serious miles in a day to get somewhere far away, sure, freeway is the only way to go. But if I am just putzing around for fun, lets be real, freeways suck. Traffic sucks. So I veer north from my house, then take whatever right turn looks proimising for a little curve action and minimal stoplights. Then I turn left on a random fun looking road. Then right again.... and so on. I got to the MN Side of Interstate Park and wasnt sure which side I wanted to stop in. There were no parking spots on the pull offs, so WI side it was! There was a tourist info building just over the river where I stopped to ask the gal where she would recommend going to do a little hiking to see some views. She gave me (no joke) 4 trail maps and highlighted a bunch of trail options, etc. She was awesome!!!

I head into the park, pay the ridiculously high 'out of state park fee' and mosy towards a parking lot. The road into the park was instantly winding and tree covered.

I passed the parking lot I wanted to stop at, which was at the top of what looked like an awesome trailhead. So I pull off at the next available parking spot I found. Without thinking. Which, usually isnt a big deal. Except, when doing so on a bike in the woods of a park. A spot with a slight downhill angle and only one way in one way out. And lots of leaves on the ground. And a car next to me, with a boulder and trees on the other side. Shit.Well, I was already parked so I guess I will deal with how the heck I am going to get out of there after I hike a bit. Shaking my head, I take off my leather jacket and chaps and head to the trail. First up: Pothole Trail.

......................Cruising up through the woods,  enjoying the fall colors that remain, and the beautiful day, I realize rather quickly that I am still a bit overdressed for upward trail hiking. O-well! Theres not a soul around, though the parking lot was packed. I hike up the trail, over the rocks, through the leaves, with the sunshine shining down on me intermittently between the tall trees overhead. There were cool rock formations along side the trail to the left, and steep hills to the right. I came up to a wooden stair case, with the sight of rocks uptop.
Where there are huge rock walls, there are rock ledges. And where there are ledges, there are views to be had and photos to be taken. Both for my enjoyment, but also for my poor mothers torture. She has come to hate hearing me say "I went hiking and you should see the perch I found with endless views!!!" As she knows, this means a picture is going to follow. And she is not a fan of me hanging off cliffs and ledges where the only thing below me is several hundred feet and will not lessen my potential fall.  

So I do a little rock climbing, to scope out the views and also to get THE best overhang spot! After climbing around a bit, I came back up from a trail that veered way down to the river below, and I damn near killed a little old lady. She literally grabbed her chest and said "I thought you were never going to come back up from that trail and off that ledge!" I laugh and say  "Thank you for your concern. My mom tells me that all the time". Not sure if that made her feel better or not :)


 After climbing back up the trail and heading south to see where the next outcrop would lead me, I didnt have to go far and then!! GOLD!!! I see THE rock - its even got a divet in it, perfect place to sit my ass down on the ledge and soak up the view. I do some photography (for my own liking) on the side and had my super fancy camera with - while climbing around the rocks, I took my bike key and looped the keychain ring around my jeans belt loops - if I dropped my key, I would be walking home and that didnt sound fun. I also wrapped the camera bag around my neck for fear of dropping it. And my cell phone went in the sports bra. This way, I could climb out to the ledge much safer ;) and not break, lose, or drop my crap in the process. Down the rock piles I go to get the rock that was jutting out over the river perfectly waiting for me.... I make it down to the rock and ahhhh.... heaven. The sights, the sounds, the smell of nature, the views below me, to each side of me... all beautiful.

 I soak it all in for a few minutes, just relaxing amongst natures beauty. Then I skooch myself to a rock that juts out JUST a little farther, get myself ready to take a mandatory selfie. Yes, for my mother. She will LOVE this view, I think as I chuckle a little.

And to make my efforts even less desired by my mother, I climb around on rock ledges...wearing cowboy boots, which over the years, have become my 'go to' hiking footwear.

 After skooching back from the edge, re-securing all of my stuff, I rock climb back up out of the crevice of nature and back to the trails. I head to the next little hiking area and the next trail.



Yep, I can't help myself!

 I hike a few more trails and head back to the bike. The sun is dropping quickly and losing its heat source even faster.
I get back to the bike with a sigh of relief... the two cars that had been to my left are now gone... this means I can just shimmy the bike forward and crank the bars to the left and I should be able to drive out of the dumbest parking spot I could have picked on a bike. It was a little sketchy, but I made it out of the spot and back on the road that winds through the park.   I pulled off to hike a few other spots, but was wise in my parking decisions and happy that I wasnt still stuck down the hill in the last spot!  

The road into and around the park was super pretty and still had quite a bit of color left to see! I love nature :)

Leaving the park, I geared up knowing the sun would soon lose all power and chill would return to the air. I head back towards the city, once again meandering the side roads and twisting south and west until I get home.  Another glorious sunset - everyday I am amazed that such a beautiful site is FREE! Everyday!


 And to top off an AWESOME day of riding and solo exploring, I hit a milestone on the way home ~ 70,000 MILES!!!! What a great bike - all she needs is clean oil, a clean air filter, and new tires.. to get to 70,000 nearly flawless, all amazing miles. And all since  5/21/15!!!!!!!

The sun went down just enough in 2 miles to make the focus on my camera impossible to capture the 70,000 turnover. 

Another AMAZING day of riding in October - in Minnesota, that is something you dont take for granted!!!!