I poked around Madison in the morning, looking at the capitol, the University, etc. Mostly because I was getting lost!
At the visitor’s center, I picked up brochures for a Norwegian colonial town, and the “Cave of the Mounds”. Both were due west of Madison, so that’s where we headed out. The “Cave of the Mounds” was the first one I got to, so that’s where I went. It was an interesting experience for my first cave, not sure I would recommend it for someone with a great deal of cave experience.
From there, we headed West on 18 through gorgeous farm country. Saw my first live active wind farm somewhere around Cobb/Montfort, a long linear farm of maybe a dozen turbines. I spent a good deal of time off the road looking at them from various angles. I was startled by how quiet they were. Even close up to them, I had to stop to listen. Just the sound of walking through gravel drowned them out.
After getting back on the road for a while, we went off the road again to take a dip in a small lake. How refreshing! After getting back to the truck, I got changed, got Tuna in her side of the cab, locked the door, and realized I had locked the key inside. Doh! After panicking for a little while, imagining Tuna frying to death, imagining trudging how ever many miles to knock on someone’s door to use the phone, and waiting hours for rescue, I hatched an alternate plan.
Recalling that the window on the driver’s side was out of it’s track, I figured if I could pry it open far enough to get a stick with a crook in, I could open the door using the latch. So, I walked a few feet, picked up three sticks, and within a minute, was back inside the cab. Tuna didn’t even catch on that something unusual had happened.
We crossed the Mississippi into Iowa at Prairie du Chien (appropriately enough for Tuna), but missed the turn for route 76, which travels along the river. So, we took a scenic route, which dove violently up and down near the Yellow river, at times 15 miles per hour felt reckless. It was pretty, but with no “long” views. Eventually, we re-connected with 76 north, and then went East again on 9 towards the crossing at Lansing, and followed the Mississippi north on the Wisconsin coast to La Crosse, where we continued along the river’s sublime beauty on the Minnesota side, taking 61 north thought the afternoon and evening, often all alone on the four lane road. Very smooth sailing.
Saw another nuclear plant, across the street from a major casino. I thought about spending the night there, but they wouldn't take dogs.
At sundown, we hit St. Paul, and I decided to push it until the Motel 6 at St. Cloud. The non-smoking room here was tolerable, but still gave me a sinus headache.