DAY 24 – THURSDAY AUGUST 1

PRAIRIE ISLAND INDIAN COMMUNITY TO BAY CITY

We are so grateful for the gracious welcome we received from the Prairie Island Indian Community. We were given the great honor of meeting with the Tribal Council and spending the day with community members (including the buffalo herd). It was enlightening and inspiring. Thank you, PIIC – we’ll be back!

This morning we said goodbye to Amy and Rayanna in the hotel lobby. Tom ran out toward Red Wing. The route was well planned and conditions were beautiful – what could go wrong? 

Road construction. The detour sent us off on Highway 18 – up the bluff for a long climb to US Highway 61. Adding extra miles and uncertainty about meeting our Bay City partners on time. 

No worries, Victoria mounted her bike and sprinted from the top of the bluff to the Mississippi River valley in Red Wing. Exhilaration turned to terror as she navigated the Eisenhower Bridge over the Great River – unfriendly to bikes and runners. It’s even worse now with a major construction project underway.

She survived US 63 and rolled into the Bow and Arrow Monument on Wisconsin Highway 35, where she was joined by Kim, Norm and Barb to cover the last few miles into town on foot. 

We landed at the Bay City Village Hall for lunch, joined by Suzie, Faye, JoAnne, Blair, Joyce, Bob, Norm, Kim and DeeDee. Every Tuesday and Thursday lunch is served here, usually followed by a game of euchre. There’s a partially finished jigsaw puzzle on the table to work on if you’re so inclined. Today’s meal was beef stroganoff, which tasted like prime rib to these weary travelers.

We checked in at our hotel – Roger and Jan Spindler’s house – and set off to explore Bay City from the ball field to the beautiful waterfront. We ended our walk at Sabe’s for a beer and some quality time with our laptops.

Before long, we gathered at the pavilion to meet the Bay City community. Our carbohydrate loading continued with spaghetti dinner (garlic bread courtesy of Donny and Eric). There was also a bake sale and continued great conversation. And what a turnout – it seemed like the whole city was there! Every age group was represented from baby Sophia to the community elders. 

This is a community that is not just surviving, but thriving – something you wouldn’t know unless you take time to pull off of Highway 35 and explore this special place on the Great River.