Although we were camping in Minnesota at Brown South Campground in the Jackson County Parks system, our closest city was Spirit Lake, Iowa. So most of our rides took in two states!
The campground was just over 2 miles down this nice paved bike path from the state line, so whenever we needed to run an errand, this was how our ride started. This was a pleasant and peaceful ride through the prairie, with the sounds of birds all around us.
Once we crossed the state line (unmarked) into Dickinson County, Iowa, we pedaled on lightly traveled roads, alternating with paved trail segments, to reach our destinations. This section of trails is designated as the Iowa Great Lakes Trails (formerly Dickinson County Trails). A large-format PDF trail map is available here.
Here's a Google map giving an overview of the area. You can see the park where we camped to the north, on Loon Lake, and the town of Spirit Lake, IA to the south.
In Spirit Lake, we were able to shop at Walmart or Hy-Vee for groceries or wash our clothes at a very nice laundromat, a distance of around 11 miles one way. We pedaled to each spot several times, a very enjoyable ride.
In this shot I am carrying our sheets in a laundry bag strapped to my rack. Barry carried the rest of our laundry on his bike.
The laundromats in this part of the country seem to be uniformly nice -- nicer than those in the south.
While pedaling around the town of Spirit Lake while I washed clothes at the laundromat, Barry happened upon this unique flower-garden front yard. He took me by to see it later. Lovely, right? More people should do this!
We were disappointed that we never made it south of Spirit Lake on the trails. We had planned on riding farther, but strong south winds (20 mph plus) on several days kept us from making the trek. In fact, on the last day in our campground, the south wind was so strong that we simply rode out and back on 715th Street, which runs east-west right outside the campground. It had recently been re-paved and was a joy to ride, with little traffic. The only negative of this road was a few pockets of territorial Red-Winged Blackbirds that squawked at us and dive-bombed us until we got out of their range. We'd experienced this before cycling in this part of the country in the summer.
On another day we rode to the county seat of Jackson County, aptly named Jackson! Stay tuned for that post, coming up next.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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