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Finding Joe the Troll

Spring Green to Governor Dodge State Park, 100 degrees.

The day we left Spring Green it was still quite warm and of course much of our ride was up hill out of the river valley.

Steve was using a very thin old bandana to mop the sweat from his face.  I gave him my purple bandana that I wasn't using. 

In addition to the ambiance of the hills and the heat, there were several miles of road construction going on.  A layer of tar was followed by a layer of crushed gravel.  We had to watch for loose gravel, and the semis whipped up a cloud of dust when they passed, turning our sweat into a paste.

Fortunately, we had a short day planned of 12 miles (according to Googlemaps.) Our route went right by the entrance to House on the Rock.  It is a must-see, quirky tourist attraction.  I had been to it and knew Steve would enjoy it.  But I had enough of looking at collections of stuff the last time I went to House on the Rock.  

Entrance to House on the Rock off Hwy 23 South of Spring Green, WI.

I rode on to the campground.  As I parted, I told Steve, " I will see you at the beach."

I rode on to Governor Dodge State Park.  Once I passed the entrance gate, I thought I was getting close, but the campground was another two miles in the heat.  

The campground is called Cox Hollow.  When I decended a loooong 1.5 mile hill, I was relieved, thinking my hill climbing was over.  I saw the lake at the bottom of the hill.  Cox Hollow Lake beach looked inviting.  I debated about stopping right then and walking in with my clothes on.  The campground sign told me turn left away from the beach.  I turned and worked my way up a relatively small hill.  The road turned a corner.  There in front of me was a massive and very, very steep hill.

I had to get off the bike and push my loaded bike up the hill.  It was so steep it reminded me of pushing my loaded bike over the Paw Paw Tunnel a couple years before.  I had to stop and catch my breath.

 I texted Steve to warn him to save energy for the last climb.  But he didn't have cell service, which has happened  often on this trip.

I immediately put on my suit and walked down the hill to the beach.  No way was I going to try to ride up that hill, even unloaded.

Steve had the same thought.  He came walking to the beach at 4:00. 

He told me that when he entered the park, as he rolled up to the ranger station,he asked what the temperature was.  The ranger said, "100 degrees!"

Even Steve with his bike muscled legs walked up that last steep hill.

He told me that he really, really enjoyed House on the Rock.  That made me very happy. He thanked me for directing him to do it.

We stayed at the beach in the water or in the shade until after seven pm.  There was a snack bar down there, thank goodness.  We got a pizza for supper.

We both said that as we were riding in the heat, we thought about all the warm clothes we were hauling that we had not used on this bike trip.  We will probably need them when we ride the GAP and C&O trail at the end of September.

We put up the tent as the sun was setting. It cooled enough that night that we slept OK.

The next day was cooler with a high of 87.  It felt great and we had a fun ride to Madison on the Military Ridge Trail.

Someone with a whimsical sense of humor put a smiley face on a golf ball and set it in a tree and stuck some feathers in a sign post.

As we approached Mt Horeb we saw signs promoting the "Troll Road"

We pulled off the trail to find lunch and see some Trolls.

Lunch at the Grumpy Troll was wonderful.  And the restaurant had a couple cool bike shirts on display.

After lunch we walked across the street to check out the museum gift shop for books for Steve's daughter's classroom.

There we met Joe the Troll.  

A while back I had told Steve about the Flat Stanley project.  Some school teachers have their students draw a man on paper and cut him out.  He is called Flat Stanley.  They sometimes will send Stanley off to other people to get pictures and stories of the places he visits while he is there.  Sometimes, the child takes Flat Stanley home and does the pictures and/or the stories from the places Stanley visits and the things he does.  It is a good writing project, or a lesson in geography.

Steve thought it was a super cool idea.

So when we met Joe we kind of thought he might be a fun travel companion for us.  We could send pictures and stories back to the kids in Erin's classroom.  

Joe is a tiny, friendly, and a bit mischievous, little Troll.  He wanted to join us on our adventures.  

We agreed he could come if he remained quiet and still whenever I put him in a pocket in my purse.  He doesn't take up much space and doesn't weigh anything.  He will send stories of his adventures to the second graders in New York.

Joe was glad to be outside again after being in the store for so long.  Right away he jumped onto a wooden Troll and wanted to get his picture taken.

A Troll on a bicycle!  How fitting is that!

My friend Kathi lives in Madison.   She was part of a close-knit group of friends that George and I went with on bike trips together for many years.  She generously invited Steve and I to stay with her while we were in Madison.

Madison is great for bicycling.  There is a bicycle roundabout where five trails intersect! 

As we were approaching Madison another bicyclist passed us and asked us if we were missing some sandals.  At first I said no, and then I remembered that Steve had his Oofos flip flops stuck on the side of his pannier.

We looked.  They were gone.  The biker said they were about three miles back.

Steve decided to ride back to get them and meet me at Kathi's.  Before I arrived at Kathi's, I went to a grocery store to get stuff to make us all an evening meal.  

We had fun in Madison.  I will tell you all about it tomorrow.


  1. You two are still having such a wonderful time together. I get warm feelings reading your blog!

  2. It's days like those it makes you wish for an air-conditioned motel.

  3. Glad you went to Mt Horeb, the trolls are so cute. We were there last summer.

  4. Such a great blog, Sue! So glad you two are enjoying life! We just did a three-day GAP trip. Have fun!


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