Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Red Wing & Biking the Cannon Falls Trail

For our 32nd anniversary, Roberta and I wanted to go someplace close to Saint Paul where we could bike and sketch. We also wanted to give our Bromptons a fairly long test-ride approximately the distance of the longest stretch on our Bemidji to Brainerd trip at the end of the month. We decided on staying a night in Red Wing and bicycling the Cannon Valley Trail to Cannon Falls and back. We booked a room at the historic Saint James Hotel and bought two round Amtrak trip tickets.

Monday, we boarded the Amtrak Empire Builder (it was two hours late) with our Bromptons folded up and stored in the luggage compartment. It's a short trip to Red Wing from Union Depot and there's nice scenery along the way. At the Hastings Lock & Dam # 2,  we saw pelicans and turkey vultures waiting for lunchtime fish meal to come swimming over the dam.

It was real hot when we arrived so we ate sandwiches and tried to sketch, but both of us were too hot to sketch, so we gave up and had dinner at the Staghead just a block from the Saint James. The Staghead has good beer on tap and the food was good with fresh, local ingredients. We did a few sketches:

Roberta's sketch of the Staghorn.

My sketch of the Staghorn.

The next day was cooler, so we bought trail passes at the front desk at the Saint James after eating breakfast at Bev's Cafe where a lot of the locals go. We got on the trail and biked up the gentle grade to Cannon Falls. We ate lunch in Cannon Falls at Nick's Diner (a favorite of bicyclists). After lunch we sketched the falls. It was hot again and we didn't bring our chairs, but we did pretty good in spite of the discomfort:

Roberta's sketch of the falls.

Roberta sketched these kids swimming in the river.
My sketch of the falls and the cave.

We rode back to Red Wing and had dinner on the Saint James Hotel's veranda overlooking the river. Good food and drink and excellent place to sketch Barn Bluff:

The Amtrak train was an hour and half late. We love Amtrak, but it is so shameful that our nation has such terrible train service compared to other countries. If we can send a spacecraft to Pluto, why can't we fix our passenger rail service? It was so discouraging to read the following notice in the Red Wing train station:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gearing Up for More Sketchy Adventures

We had a lot of fun sketching and bicycling in Sioux Falls last month. Lots of times people ask us where we got our bicycling or sketching gear. So, this post is about some new art and bicycling gear pictured here:

New stuff in front of Union Depot, Saint Paul.
The Brompton isn't new, but I recently got it tuned up at Calhoun Cycle which makes it as good as new. While I was picking up my Brompton, I purchased a nifty Banjo Brothers Metro backpack. The backpack is perfect for carrying all my sketching supplies, water bottle etc.

One new thing that fits real good in the backpack is a Niji roll-up pencil holder I got at my favorite art store Wet Paint. A  lot of my sketches are pen and colored pencil on Strathmore toned paper. Speaking of Strathmore, check out the sketch I did for their Pass The Journal project.

The other thing that fits good in the backpack is the Helinox chair I got from Midwest Mountaineering. It's compact and lightweight - perfect for bicycling and sketching.

I'll get to try out the new gear next week when we take Amtrak from Saint Paul's Union Depot down to Red Wing. We will stay overnight at the Saint James Hotel and bike the Cannon Valley Trail the next day.

At the end of the month, we'll be taking a Jefferson Lines bus up to Bemidji and bike down the Paul Bunyan Trail to Brainerd. This map has the basic itinerary: