Sometimes when your writing life sucks it’s a good idea to get away.
Which is exactly what my hubby and I did this past July 4th weekend, when the weather was spectacular for a good, long bike ride. We’ve biked the ~30 miles to Stillwater before, but in the past the end of the trip was kind of a harrowing descent into busy Stillwater streets. Not so any longer, with the completion of the Brown’s Creek Trail and its convenient intersection with the Gateway Trail.
This is pedal biking I’m talking about, and when you take Brown’s Creek Trail it actually adds a couple of miles, but the new route is beautiful and wooded and best of all it is a 6-mile, dedicated pathway of every biker’s dreams: a slow grade down into the St. Croix River valley. You don’t end up on even one municipal street until you are delivered to the foot of the Water Street Inn, which is where we stayed for the night (since I am a wuss and 30 miles of biking in one day about does me in). Nonetheless, after a cocktail on the balcony overlooking the river, dinner, a good night’s sleep and brunch the next morning, we made the return trip without incident, exhaustion or injury. All in all, a wonderful ride.
You can see the route easily on the excellent Twin Cities bike maps by Doug Shidell. (I think the map online is a close-up of Minneapolis and St. Paul; on the flip side you can see how to get to Stillwater.) You can buy the paper map or it’s also available as an app for your phone. Basically, the breakdown to Stillwater is this: ~8 miles from downtown Minneapolis to the lakeside pavilion in St. Paul’s Como Park; ~5 miles along Wheelock Parkway to a very poorly signed entrance to the Gateway Trail (look for it after you go under the 35E bridge); ~9 miles on the Gateway until it intersects with the Brown’s Creek Trail (easy to find–marked with a colorful kiosk); and ~6 more miles (all gently downhill!) into Stillwater.
As for that cocktail on the balcony, my husband and I talked about my next book. When you’re physically exhausted, it’s often much easier (I think) to talk about difficult subjects. I tend to lose my most acute emotions (this time disappointment, but other times, and other bike rides, anger or irritation) under these circumstances, and of course a Manhattan makes everything easier to talk about. Even when your husband says, this is what you should do next time (and maybe I just will). The important thing: there will be a next time. Speaking of which, gotta go. There’s another novel out there (in here?) waiting for me to write it.
Oh, one last reason to do this trip: my app counted nearly 2500 calories spent over two days, and here’s what you’ll find a few miles into the Gateway, just about half-way from Minneapolis to Stillwater…