2020 Confluences

We call this blog “Confluence” and even define it on our header: “a coming and flowing together, meeting or gathering.” So, so much has come together in the last few months – a global pandemic which sent many of us home to work, and, around Memorial Day, the killing of George Floyd, here in the Twin Cities, which has started an international conversation about racial justice and the urgently needed corrections to our society. Lisa and I have been very deeply affected by these events. Working in higher education (Lisa is in charge of online learning at our university) has lead to very long work days and weeks, though from our home offices now. And being able to clearly see Minneapolis’ Lake Street from our window placed us in the front row of observers of the unrest in our cities.

This particular confluence isn’t the kind we’d envisioned when we started this blog. We intended to bring together biking, music, nature, interesting people and adventure. We’ve documented several trips in the last few years which were more typical of what we wanted from the blog.

But this year has been, to use a terribly overused word, unprecedented. We hardly left our yard from March to mid-May. We watched the back yard go from brown, muddy and snowy, to green and exploding with plants and flowers, birds and butterflies. We established new habits – Dan walking nearly every day from 4 – 9 miles, first with the the dog, and then, when he got too tired (Finn is 13), alone. Lisa worked out on a spin cycle in the basement and ran every other day or so. But mostly we have been very, very preoccupied with work and other troubles.

In early May, we began to get out for some bike rides. We rode to Stillwater and back one day when there was an “Open the State” demonstration by our capital. Dan happened to be wearing his National Public Radio jersey and was accosted by a Trump supporter yelling something about “National Propaganda Radio.” Later in May, we drove up to the family cabin in northern Minnesota and did a 60 mile ride to the small town of Lake Park, where Dan’s father was born in 1920, and encountered a town graduation celebration parade where the graduates sat in cars, applauded by townspeople in their folding lawn chairs on the curb. In mid June, we drove down to Lake City, MN along the Mississippi, and rode the 72 mile “Tour de Pepin” route around Lake Pepin, on the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the river. Other miscellaneous rides took us around the Twin Cities.

On Thursday this week, we’ll start a real bike tour, finally getting ourselves away from work for a few days. We’ll be heading north along the Mississippi River Trail, with our goal being to make it to the Headwaters in Itasca State Park, about 300 miles from home. It feels good to be planning a long ride, and the gear is laid out on the living room floor, the bikes are tuned, and we have places to camp every night. We’ll try to document this shorter trip as well as we can, and that feels good, too.

Meanwhile, we include some pics from this spring’s rides around the region.

Brown’s Creek Trail out of Stillwater, MN
Swans on the way to Lake Park, MN
Awesome bargains in Lake Park
The Tour de Pepin, Minnesota/Wisconsin
Stockholm, WI
The Stockholm Pie Shop
On the river, downtown St. Paul