Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Day 34 – Onalaska to Governor Dodge State Park

Author Theresa L. Goodrich presents an excerpt from Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Bison are Giant and Other Observations from an American Road Trip. Enjoy!

Home. That’s what I felt as we rode our bikes on the Great River State Trail. Home. I loved the unrestrained and extreme beauty of the west, the sheer extravagance of the earth’s upheaval, the power of an ever-changing landscape. It was one “wow” after another. But as we rode our bikes along the Mississippi River on a flat path through leafy trees that would be bare by November, I was home.

Jim looking none too happy that I’m taking a selfie while riding

I’d grown up in the Midwest and had lived in Indiana or Illinois all but four years of my life. Jim and I camped on our honeymoon just a few miles up the river, and on our one-year anniversary about fifty miles south. This was a land I knew.

We were close enough that we could have ended our journey that day, but we knew we weren’t done yet. We followed another two lane, stopped at more historical markers. Learned about rural electrification and farm boys finding mastodon bones in rural Wisconsin. Jim noticed a field of flags and we stopped at American Legion Post 13 to pay our respects.

It was only one in the afternoon when we found our spot in Governor Dodge State Park. July 2, and we practically had the place to ourselves. We set up our tent one last time and drove to Dodgeville in search of some food. There wasn’t much open, but we did find a Mexican restaurant. Jim had a quesadilla; I had a tostada and an enchilada. We picked up some Spotted Cow, a beer you can only get in Wisconsin, and were back in our campsite by five. He started a fire and I read The Full English by author and friend Bull Garlington. I’d laugh out loud every few minutes and Jim finally stopped asking “What?” after the gazillionth time I told him “Oh, nothing. Bull ate more beans.”

We spotted fireflies. These were sparks of my childhood, but Jim didn’t have those memories. Fireflies don’t live in Missoula.

I feel like I should say more. But that was it. That was our day. I suppose that’s the danger in organizing a book by day. Some chapters are thousands of words. Others say simply “I napped.” This day, I was home.