Thanks to Covid, this hasn't been a good year for big trips. The first casualty was my plan to ride to Moab. Then the almost-annual early June trip to North Carolina got canceled due to both spiking Covid levels and terrible weather. I had made some reservations to spend a few days down in Arkansas, on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake, but with Covid rising faster than the heat index down there, that seemed a dubious option as well. Sometimes you just gotta accept this is the year to lower your expectations. Instead of Moab, Deals Gap and Bull Shoals, I went to Pikes Peak. Not that one... the state park in Iowa, atop a 400-foot bluff overlooking the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, all of 210 miles from my home outside Chicago. Well, better than nothing... and maybe a good shakedown, as I had yet to take my bought-last-August Enfield Himalayan on a real camping trip. I'd camped at the Hügellandschaft Adventure Ride a couple weeks earlier, but that was rally camping, where the most important thing to pack is the beer cooler. This would be real camping, bringing along the kitchen and spending a few nights in the tent. Wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pack up everything for a real camping trip... not to mention how the 66-year-old collection of orthopedic disaster areas called "me" would handle multiple days on this relatively new-to-me bike. Didn't need to have my psychotic--I mean, sciatic--nerve go out 600 miles from home! The plan (you may begin laughing whenever I use that word) was to zip up to the park on a Monday afternoon, set up my tent, and spend three days riding the three southernmost segments of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail (as it turns out, the second segment, between Prairie du Chien and Lansing, actually runs through Iowa; go figure). This way I'd just have to set the tent up once and take it down once. Efficient and labor saving. Uh-huh... Monday Of course, by the time I actually got around to hitting the DNR website and reserving a space, the deadline for reserving Monday was past. Not a big deal, I figured--this campground is usually not very busy Sunday through Thursday. I'd probably get up there and find my space unoccupied on Monday night. Getting loaded up and on the road took a little longer than expected. Then there was the doctor's appointment, though I was able to do that via internet rather than going to his office (an hour in the wrong direction, of course). So I actually got on the road at noon sharp. The day's first stop, a boat ramp where the Kishwaukee River flows under the Shirley Bridge (as in, "Surely you don't have to pee already?" "Yes I do, and stop calling me Shirley!"). Fun fact: there is apparently a historic railroad truss called the "Shirley Bridge" down in Arkansas. I only found that out when checking up on which river flows under this Shirley Bridge. After a stretch of four-lane which was interesting only in that it verified I could run a sustained 70mph on the Himalayan, I caught the Stagecoach Trail toward Warren, IL. This town (just before the Wisconsin line) wants visitors to know it's right on the 90º west longitude meridian. There is spot further north, near Wausau, where this meridian crosses the 45th parallel, putting you exactly halfway between Greenwich and the opposite side of the earth, and halfway between the equator and the pole. According to an old Aerostich catalog (no doubt an unquestionable authority), there are eight such spots on the planet, and the one in Wisconsin is the only one you can ride to. (Quick fact check: Wikipedia says the only other "45x90 point" that's on land is in the Uyghur region of China, so riding there would be something of a challenge. Apparently an American and a Chinese taxi driver went there in 2004. 220km taxi ride... hmm...) Anyway... I decided to swing through Potosi and ride up scenic highway 133 to the Cassville Ferry. Which led to the first change of plans: while taking the various little hilly curvy (but paved) roads that made up this section of the TWAT, I passed by the Grant River Corps of Engineers campground. Now this is on of my favorite places to camp, as they have tent sites right along the river, the bluffs are quite gorgeous, and there's a brewery with a beer garden right there in town. And it's not like I had an actual reservation for the night at Pikes Peak... My favorite site was open, so after a half-hour or so... On the one hand, I'd only gone 160 miles; on the other hand, I was probably in a better position for Tuesday's planned ride anyway. Or so I told myself. Of course, at this point I had yet to touch a tire to anything other than pavement, so some "adventure" this was turning out to be. Luckily, a quick run out to Potosi Point gave me at least some plausible excuse to call the day an "adventure": I don't know if Potosi Point is natural or man-made, though I suspect the latter. Much of the half-mile or so to the end of the road there is nothing but the road, with water on both sides. There's a boat launch at the end, which might be in deep enough water to avoid tearing propellers off boats. My campsite is directly behind the bike, I think. Hard to tell. I went over to the brewery for a delicious (and socially-distanced) dinner in their beer garden, bringing back a little something for a pleasant evening watching the river roll by. And watching the barges go by... And the sunset warming up the limestone bluffs... I set up my phone, hoping to shoot a time-lapse of the sunset: Didn't work. Seems the phone re-adjusts its auto-exposure on each frame, so it never got dark; it just got gray. Sometimes tech is too smart for its own good. But this is what the sunset looked like: OK. I promise more miles and less pavement tomorrow!