June 12: Stillwater to Cambridge, MN 58.5 miles
After a short twisting and turning on the frontage roads, the route headed out of Stillwater area on the bike path through a new subdivision and out into the countryside. Crossing all the major highways at stoplights definitely removed any anxiety of traffic riding first thing!!
Once outside the city limits, the bike trail paralleled Hwy 61 for over 35 miles!! Minnesotans know how to design recreational facilities to encourage their citizens to use the outdoors as a playground. Exercise is a form of entertainment in this state and it can be seen in the form of roller skiers, roller bladers, "dog walkers", bicyclists old and young, strollers, any method of forward motion. The pathway is paved the entire route, so no special equipment is necessary. Our road bikes sailed over the trail carrying us closer to our next destination.
The scenery along this "avenue" changed from residential to farm to open prairies full of flowers basking in the sun. Small lakes and ponds appeared nestled in among the hills and valleys. In the far distance one could see the cattle grazing in a meadow. A deer stood watch as we rode by a small clump of trees. Herons and cranes stood at attention in the ponds not moving a muscle as we rode by. A turtle came to a stop in the middle of the road to take a rest before venturing to the other side, but upon seeing all of us coming with our bright shirts and shiny helmets, decided to "rush" to the other side for protection. No fear necessary, however. Had he not made it, one of us would have helped him to safety!!!
The map miscalculated the total miles on the trail by about 7 miles, so for a few minutes there were some doubts as to where we were -- had we made a wrong turn? Once again the group "thought process" prevailed and we figured out that the map was wrong and there was no way we could have made a wrong turn -- there were no turns on the trail!!!
The town of North Branch sadly was the end of the trail and forced us back out to the county road to continue our venture. And alas, there was an ice cream shop sitting right there at the end!!!! Root beer floats all around!!!!!
The town of Harris, then Stark appeared first as the water towers sitting in the horizon. Each are small and mere cross roads in the middle of this wide open rolling countryside. The last stop today,Cambridge, “City on the Rum River” is located in Isanti County, Minnesota and was established in 1866. The city sports the name given by settlers from New England, even though Cambridge and the surrounding area were a haven for Swedish immigrants. These immigrants brought with them a strong work ethic and rich heritage.
In the early 1900’s Cambridge had first class business facilities, possessing a potato starch factory, 1 300-barrel flouring mill, a wool carding and spinning mill, an excellent electric lighting plant, and local and long-distance telephone systems making it a desirable community.
Bike Trail Code of Conduct!!!!!