"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

June 2, 2008

Minneapolis to Cannon Falls - Day One

On Saturday, I decided to head to Cannon Falls. Even though I've lived in Minneapolis most of my life, I haven't explored much of Minnesota south of the Minnesota River (or north of downtown Minneapolis to be honest) so it struck me as a decent destination. I don't really know much about the town, only that it was about 40 miles south of Fort Snelling along highway 55. So, I packed my things, printed out maps from www.mapquest.com, and left at 9:30am. I planned to spend the night at a motel but, just in case there were no vacancies, I took my tent and sleeping bag along.

I pedaled through my usual routes past Minnehaha Creek and Minnehaha Falls to Fort Snelling State Park and crossed the Mendota Bridge into unfamiliar territory. I knew I was going to take Sibley Memorial Highway south until I reached Lone Oak Road but I was pleasantly surprised to find a bicycle/hiking trail that traveled along that exact route. In the city and some suburbs, I don't really like going along the road if I don't have to. Eventually, I got to Highway 55 and turned south. In Minneapolis, it's not legal to ride your bicycle on the highway (of course) but I don't really know where that law begins and ends so I was a bit nervous for the first few miles.

Honestly, the day wasn't very eventful. The landscape got sparser and sparser until I found myself in the middle of farmland. Around noon, I saw my first highway sign that read "Cannon Falls 19" (miles). I cheered to myself and kept going. One of the towns along the route is a tiny, tiny town with a population of less than 200 called Coates. As I approached, I encountered this.

Now, I don't normally run around taking pictures of titty bars but it was bizarre to come across. Miles of farmland, a refinery a couple of miles to the north, and the House of Coates bar across the highway were the only things visible. Plus, it just looked desolate. Once I got home, a maddening curiosity drove me to perform a Google search for "Jake's Coates MN". It turns out it was abandoned in 2002 when the city of Coates chased the business out of town by passing a law that said dancers had to stay six feet away from customers and couldn't accept tips. In protest, the club owner painted the building bright pink and has refused to sell it, leaving a giant eyesore to the religious right who chased the business out of town. I'm super-amused by the owner's final act.

Anyway, I kept going, came across another sign and cheered again. I was getting closer.

The next eight miles flew by and I found myself in a fairly large small town. It's very pretty. The residential areas look a lot like Southwest Minneapolis: small, brightly colored older homes with small yards packed tightly together. Along Main Street, there were a couple of antique shops, a realty office, and various other businesses. I should've taken pictures but I wasn't thinking. I rode around for about 15 minutes trying to figure out where the hotels were. Eventually, I realized that that might take a long time so I asked a woman putting up a flag in front of the fire station where they were. She gave me fabulous directions and I soon found myself at the Best Western. I checked in, flopped on the bed, and died till morning. Well, actually, I watched television and read. I felt a bit guilty about choosing to do that instead of sightseeing in town but I really wanted to make sure I had enough energy to make the trek back the next day. I only went out once to grab something to eat from a fast food restaurant across the highway.

(Don't worry. Day 2's entry should be shorter. :-p )


franscud said...

That's a great story about Jake's. I wonder if he'd sell the building if the buyer would agree to keep the exterior as is.

FerdC ~ The Best Parts said...

Great story. You don't need to make them any shorter. It was fun to read.
So how many miles was it. Do you have a bike computer?
Loved the pic of the loaded bike. Did you discover anything you'll want/need for the longer rides?
I'm really loving the whole bike/exploration gig you have going on!

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Fun. Back around on Monday night to give you my Battle of the Blogs vote after enjoying your story and pix...I agree, no need to shorten, just start with once upon a time and end with happily ever after.


P.S. -- I think Berryvox is Google top-ranked for Zombie titty bars.

suzette said...

This post is fun. Talking about biking, I have not been doing this for at least 20 years! And last month we did this in a group, at Galveston Island (houston). I was so scared and seems like other members also not good at this. One of us fell down and hurt quite badly... :p

Anyway, here to give you my vote for BOTB too! :) Good luck!

Berryvox said...

Francis - Not really sure. In one of the articles, he said that he'd gotten an offer of $1 million on the property. He ended up opening another club in another small Minnesota town called Bock.

Ferd - I haven't attached the bike computer yet. I'm guessing it was about 50 miles each way. It's about 8 miles from my house to Fort Snelling plus another 40 from there.

I do want to add another water bottle cage to the bike. And it's pretty hard to find fruit in convenience stores so I think I'll grab some oranges and bananas before I leave next time. I was pretty set for the most part though.

Roxy - lol There's a movie out there somewhere called Zombie Strippers.

Suzette - Oh, no! Sorry his/her experience was such a bad one. I've been really lucky about avoiding accidents.

goldmourn said...

This is both exciting & inspiring. Very awesome of you to share this with us.

(I love your photos & the thoughts you share).

& could you imagine going that far out of the way for "dancers" - though I suppose that's how it goes, but still??? a pink building? how more suggestive can they be?

Berryvox said...

Goldmourn - Well, the owner didn't paint it pink until the town council chased him out. It was basically a giant 'eff you' to them.

And, even though it looked kind of desolate, it was off a really busy highway. I'm sure they got a lot of business from travelers and truckers. Also, Dakota County Tech School and Inver Grove Heights Community College are pretty close by and probably fed the strip club a few customers and dancers.

goldmourn said...

i totally need to stay a bit longer than the BoB counter so that you don't have to repeat what you've already posted. I hate skimming but it seems the only thing one can do when they're trying to get the battles cleared! I feel slightly embarrassed now - though I could blame it on being distracted?

Berryvox said...

Ha! No worries. I know I've done the same thing when voting in BotB.