Thursday, July 17, 2008

RAGBRAI Day -3: Winnetka, IL to La Moile, MN

Today's adventure was to go to Minnesota to inspect the 3/4 acre of land my Aunt Peggy gave me. But first I had to get past my niece and nephew to leave. They were opposed to the idea.

On the way I stopped off in LaCrosse, Wisconsin to visit the World's Largest Six Pack.

This is at an old Heileman plant, which is now making microbrews. The World's Largest Six Pack used to be Old Style. I'm glad they are keeping it up. I visited it in the mid-90's on a trip to Minnesota with my aunt who gave me the land. On that trip she gave me some furniture that belonged to my great-grandfather. His house was standing until about 10 years ago, when it got hit by lightning and burned to the ground. The land Peggy gave me was once part of my great-grandparent's land, and it's next to the site of the house.

In 2001 I rode my bike across the country, and camped on the site of the old house, then the next day, went to LaCrosse to watch the Ravens game on TV. This is the bar where I watched the Ravens. It's a blues bar frequented by Bears fans, who were the Ravens' opponents that day. It's three blocks from the World's Largest Six Pack.

Soon afterwards, I got to La Moile, where my 3/4 acre of land is. It's to the right of the house nearest the center. The drawings I have says that the access is at the end of the lane between the two houses.

But the end of the lane is fenced off, and behind it is a deep ravine, so there would be no practical way to get to this lot from the lane.

I became concerned that the land was actually all ravine, and therefore quite useless. I drove into Winona and visited the county offices. The nice lady there printed me out a detailed areal map with the property boundary outlined. It seems the property line approximately follows the bottom of the ravine.

It seems it does not have access from the end of the lane, but it does have about 300' of frontage on the section of old highway 61, which leads to the drive up to the site of my great-grandparents' house.

I hiked up the embankment, and found what appears to be a marker for the corner of the lot, and behind that a field of naturalized lilies.

Just behind that is a clearing with the overgrown foundation of my great-grandparents' house.

It's being overgrown by blackberries.

At the end of the lane was what was once the community's church.

It's now a gift shop.

I hiked up to the cemetery, which was on top of the bluff. Somebody is mowing the access path and maintaining the cemetery, but I did not see my great-grandparent's gravestones. Maybe they are buried in Winona. I'll have to ask my aunt.

I drove back to Winona to get some lunch on the other side of the river. Here is the view of the land from Trempeleau, Wisconsin. It's right behind that tree in the foreground.

Here's another view looking back from farther upstream. The church is the rightmost white dot on the left.

Now I'm eating dinner at a coffee shop with free wi-fi in Winona.

I was thinking about camping on the land, but it's supposed to pour tonight, and I don't think there is any parking on the access road, so I'm going to set out for Omaha. Tomorrow afternoon, I meet Jim, Suzanne, and Laura, at the Omaha airport, and we set out for RAGBRAI.

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