The second day of our bike trip took us to Northeast Iowa. We stayed at Pulpit Rock Campground in Decorah. In the past, my family has camped with Greg's family at Pulpit Rock, and it's located along the Upper Iowa River, which is the river that we ran on our very first boys trip. It's also the river where we scattered Greg's ashes. This information had nothing to do with the decision to stay at Pulpit Rock, but it was another instance where the past met the present. We chose to stay at Pulpit Rock because it's a great campground, and it's very close to some wonderful motorcycle roads.
This was a relatively short day's ride, so we were able to set up camp and prepare for the evening meal with plenty of daylight to spare. Part of our overall plan was that we had very few preconceived notions. None of us had done a trip like this before, so we wanted to start things off easy. The overarching goals of this ride was that we wanted to have fun. This meant that if the weather was crappy, we were prepared to not ride. If our butts were sore from riding, we would stop short. Another primary goal was that we would not plan heavily, based on the first goal. After setting up camp, we decided to cook over an open fire, and we chose hobo stew.... basically ground beef, vegetables and cream of whatever soup, cooked in foil, over an open fire. We had to go to the grocery store to get the meal. Thanks to an idea from Randy's wife, we cooked the meal in a couple of disposable foil lasagna pans, covered with foil, instead of a bunch of individual foil packs. Awesome meal! Awesome idea.
After the meal, we sat around the fire as the sun went down, listening to the sound of the nearby bubbling creek, drinking a couple of beers. The evening's entertainment was brought by our neighbors... a group of gay men, who by the look of things had never camped before. It was funny! Picture the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" hosts trying to camp, and you've got the idea. Huge Tent? Check. Tiki torches? Check. Overdressed? Check. Gay men bickering over how to set up the tent? Check. Complaining about bugs? Check. This was the closest we came to having a Wild Hogs moment.
We spent the third day riding around Northeast Iowa, focusing on the Driftless Area Scenic Byway and the northern section of Iowa's Great River Road. There is some incredible scenery and many miles of winding roads with virtually no traffic. During this time, we darted into Minnesota and Wisconsin, allowing us to hit three states within the span of a couple of hours. There's also a really cool grate bridge from Lansing, IA into Wisconsin. That evening we hit the Old Armory BBQ, a delightful smokehouse BBQ, for dinner. After supper, we went back to camp and spent another evening around the fire, listening to the sound of the water next to our camp site and talking about nothing in particular.