We were expecting a chilly morning and so we waited as long as possible before checkout time to leave the motel. I doubt it was over 50 degrees when we left and so we bundled up before getting on our bikes. Caroline was wearing tights and we both wore long sleeves under our rain jackets. We didn’t expect rain, but the rain jackets helped keep out the cold wind. The first part of today’s ride was along a levee road outside of Portage. A couple of times we stopped to walk up the levee to look at the river on the other side. It was a very quiet road which made for nice biking, despite the chilly weather.
As we were biking along a quiet country road Caroline noticed a few Sandhill Cranes in a field. We stopped for a couple photos and I caught one crane doing some jumping. We’ve seen several cranes the past few days. Apparently they’re migrating through on their way back south for the winter. These are the eastern cousins of the Sandhill Cranes that Caroline and I have seen in southern Colorado as they migrate through the Rockies. And what do you know, as we continued down this road we saw a sign for the International Crane Federation. We had no idea it was here, but we stopped to see what they’re about.
The ICF works on crane conservation, research and education. They also have a small zoo-like facility with all 15 species of cranes represented in their flock. We took some time to walk around their facility and take photos of the captive cranes. Our photos hopefully convey the spectacular nature of these birds, but you really should see them in person for yourself. Some of the birds are 2 or 3 feet tall, but others are 5 to 6 feet tall. I was thankful most of them are behind fences. Their beaks look like they could do some damage if they’re in a bad mood. Before walking around we put on another layer or two of clothes, but we were still chilly since we weren’t biking to keep ourselves warm.
Photos from our visit to the ICF:
After enjoying the cranes we continued biking towards Reedsburg. By this point I too had my cycling tights on and even a balaclava to keep my head warm. It seemed to be getting colder out. We passed a couple campgrounds and were tempted to stop early, but we weren’t eager to camp out in this cold weather. No, it wasn’t even near freezing temps and yes, we have warm down sleeping bags, but why sleep outside when we can get an inexpensive motel room? We rode on until Reedsburg so we could get a room at the Quality Inn. We were glad to be indoors for the night. We walked to a nearby mexican place for dinner and then stopped for ice cream (no, it’s never too cold for ice cream) before calling it a night.
The next morning we woke up and checked the weather. It looked like we were in for drizzly rain and cold temps all day long. Neither of us felt like biking in this weather so we agreed to keep our room for another night. We were planning to stay in La Crosse for two nights for an upcoming rest day, but a rest day in Reedsburg will do fine. We basically spent the day laying around our motel room and resting our legs. Doing nothing but watching TV and surfing the web is a pretty lazy way to spend a day… and it was a really welcome change of pace. We’ll plan to hit the road tomorrow and should be in La Crosse in a couple days. It should still be cold tomorrow, but at least it won’t be rainy.