My deadline for leaving St. Paul was a little squishier than usual. It moved from the middle of May, out to late June, and then back a couple short hops to finally rest on June 9. I’d decided to allow my schedule to be dictated by my list of things I’d wanted done, rather than forcing those things to conform to a set time. Even though the time-line kept changing, it turned out to be a far less stressful thing than trying to manage the other way around.
I left on a lovely sunny morning, though stopping for a few errands in town meant that I broke city orbit about noon-ish. I love driving the Great River Road whenever I get the chance (I mean to travel the whole thing some day) so I drove to Wisconsin and turned south on 35. Being that the point of the river road is to enjoy the drive, I allowed myself the time to visit a few, favorite places. I hung out with a wise and immense cottonwood tree and stopped at a trout spring for a drink and a meditation.
For the crossover from the Mississippi to Madison, I have often taken 90 at LaCrosse, but I decided to go a little farther south and enjoy a drive through the Driftless Area. For those unfamiliar, The Driftless Area is a region shared by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and a little tip of northwestern Illinois. This land is estimated to have been untouched by glaciers in at least the last, glacial period. Beautiful landscape of rolling hills and great farming.
I enjoyed a meandering path through small towns, and even passed Amish farms that I recognized from my days of working in the produce aisle at the co-op. In one small town, where I stopped to wait out a hailing rain, I found a library surrounded by roses that smelled like cinnamon.
This route eventually took me to the Wisconsin river that brought me to Madison and back onto the rush of the freeway system, that ushered me into Chicago on a beautiful, rainy night.