A winter ride

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In recent years the Twin Cities has been a top contender for the number one bike city in America by bicycling.com. Why? Sure, we have miles of dedicated bike lanes in the city, in addition to bike trails in nearly every state park. But I think one of the reasons we are a number one bike city is that an estimated 4,000 people in the metro ride their bikes to work – in the winter. For the record, it was zero degrees and snowing when I took this picture on my commute home. Take that, Portland.

This is day 364 of Photo 365.

Getting away from it all

I have to remind myself that “vacation” does not mean spending two weeks in Europe. The definition of vacation is actually a period of suspension of work, study or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation or travel.

By that definition I have to classify my last weekend getaway as vacation. I took a day off from work, and more importantly, I went to an area without cell phone or data service so I could not answer e-mails. Sure, I had the shakes after 24-hours without checking in online, but it’s remarkable that you can still find a cafe with WiFi in the middle of nowhere.

One of my favorite areas in Minnesota is bluff country, located in the southeast corner of the state. Husband and I decided to fast-track it to Lanesboro, and then wander home on two-lane roads. Located in the heart of the Root River Valley Trail system, you can bike 60 miles through the limestone bluffs inside the river valley or tube down the Root River in Lanesboro, or one of the neighboring towns like Preston.

After a day in Lanesboro we went went east on Hwy. 16 and spotted hawks, rabbits, beaver, coyote, deer in addition to farm animals and a many mosquitoes. We passed through Fountain, Whalan, Harmony, Rushford and Houston. Arriving at the end of Hwy. 16 in La Crescent, Minn., we traveled up Hwy. 61.

If you are driving on Hwy. 61, put down the windows, turn up Bob Dylan’s Hwy. 61 Revisited and take in the North Country. My favorite stops are:

You can see much of Minnesota bluff country in one day or take your time over a weekend. Just remember not to get frustrated with the hills when they block your cell service. You’re on vacation.