July 3, 2015
Today we started on a two-day, 100-mile stretch of riding exclusively on rails-to-trails bike paths. A hundred and fifty years ago, the pioneers on the Oregon, California, Santa Fe and other major trails west would have given a great deal to have paths remotely like this. We’re deeply appreciative of the ease of travel this stretch provides—no hills, no traffic, and a covered bridge to connect us to the past.
Last night we tent-camped on the banks of the Mississippi River in Royalton, at the Sportsman’s Club. As I was setting up, two local campers were working on their fishing rods.
“What are you fishing for?” I asked. “Muskie,” one of the fellows said.
How big does a muskie get?” I wanted to know.
Oh, 40 pounds, and 30 inches.”
“Wow, that’s salmon size.”
We talked a bit more. He said he ran a guide service; I said I was born in Starbuck, a small town 70 miles or so northwest of Royalton.
“On Lake Minnewaska,” his friend said. “That’s a fun lake.”
My hometown, population 1,200, does sit on the banks of Lake Minnewaska, and it has something of a reputation. People run into people all over the world with connections to it. Once, on a business trip to Hong Kong, my uncle was attending a cocktail party. While talking to an American woman, he happened to mention that he was originally from Minnesota.
“I have a good friend,” the woman replied, “who always talks about this great little town there, called Starbuck. Her mother used to live there, and played the organ for the shows at the local theatre.”
“I was born in Starbuck,” my uncle laughed. “And my dad built that theatre!”
Circles are never broken. They just keep rippling farther and farther out.