Zebulon Montgomery Pike Trail to the sources of the Mississippi 1805 — 1806

Day 22: September 1st, 2002 Richland Center — Boscobel

Surprisingly I wake up early today again. This time I am smarter than yesterday and make a room reservation at a Super 8. The one I chose in Prairie Du Chien is already booked but the one in Boscobel, where the wedding crowd had been yesterday, has rooms available. So I make my reservation there.

I am so early that it is not even eight when I start to load my truck. At the same time a biker from the room next to me is loading up his bike. He asks me if I know a nice restaurant for breakfast. Unfortunately I am not really able to help him, because I am also not familiar with the area. But I have seen a Country Kitchen yesterday. Just to be sure I will ask the motel owner when checking out. But he will not be available before eight.

I use the opportunity to chat with the biker for a while. He is member in a club, where everyone has a small booklet. They collect from every motel or the area a stamp in their booklet. The one who collects most is the winner of this year. This is also a nice idea to travel through the country…

Just past eight the motel owner opens the door. I return my keys and he confirms that the “Country Kitchen” is the best place to go for breakfast. He gives me a way description which I also give to the biker and say goodbye. He is still busy hooking up his bike.

It doesn’t take long to find the “Country Kitchen” again. The parking lot is pretty empty and I am afraid that they might not be open this early on a Labor Day weekend. But I am lucky, they are. They also have a special All–you–can–eat Buffet this morning. But as I hate buffets I order from the menu as usual. The breakfast is way better than I expected at a chain. Seems like I had too many prejudices.

After this hearty breakfast I drive over to the next gas station. Just past nine I am back on the road. Now the long drive back to my original route starts. Lucky me my first destination, the “Kickapoo Indian Caverns”, are along my way back. So I am able to compensate a little bit of my time loss.

Kickapoo Indian Caverns, WI Kickapoo Indian Caverns, WI
Kickapoo Indian Caverns, WI

You are welcomed at this place by Indian sounds. The entry from the parking lot is like the entry of a ranch, decorated with two skulls. After a brief walk through thick bushes I reach the entry. When the cashier sees my tripod she tells me, that I am not allowed to take it into the cave. When I ask why she explains that I will keep up the crowd too much with a tripod. Ok, so I have to leave the tripod here. But at least she has no problems with my shoulder pod. I shall place the other tripod at the cave entrance to be safe.

Then I have to wait for the next tour. There is also a souvenir shop you can walk through and look at and buy Indian jewelry. Then it is time for my tour. I decide to only do video taping and quit taking pictures completely.

Sherry is our guide and she is able to give us a good impression of the cave. You learn a lot about geological things and also the people who used this cave as a shelter. She also tells us about the partial openings by the owner. Beside a lot of artifacts from the past there are also some rock inscriptions, the oldest one from 1849.

The tour has not the hectic which I expected from the cashier words before. Shelly even waited for me when I had to change my tape and repeated the part I missed. This is really great! All in all I am able to gather some very nice recordings.

The tour finishes way too early. When leaving I grab my tripod and go back to the parking lot. I put everything in my car and mount my camera on the car pod. While doing this Shelly showed up and asks me if she might have a copy of this video. Sure, not a problem!

I promise to make something up on my computer at home. Unfortunately I cannot give her a direct copy, because my camera runs on the German PAL system, while the US uses NTSC for broadcasting. But I will try to get this done on my computer at home. The CD will be a little present from me. She also tells me, that her daughter will do a short trip to Europe next year with a group. One stop over will also be in Munich. But with her tight schedule there will be most likely no chance to meet her somewhere. But at least she has an emergency contact if something goes wrong.

Highway 18, Mississippi River, WI Highway 18, Mississippi River, WI
Highway 18, Mississippi River, WI

I say goodbye and drive on to my next destination, Spook Cave, at the other side of the Mississippi. While the trip to the Indian Caverns was somehow related to Pike, the trip to Spook Cave lays definitely out of Pikes range. He only followed the Wisconsin up to the Kickapoo River to explore parts of the river.

But I want to see everything interesting along the route, which also contains Spook Cave. It is way busier when I arrive there. Unfortunately there is a camping site next to the cave. So all Labor Day vacation people are around, which makes things extremely busy. First they put you on a waiting list, which is almost an hour. But eventually it is my turn.

The tour is done in a small boat, which is driven by an electrical motor. Due to the boat size the guide has to level things out by moving all people around. Unfortunately I get a place at the farthest end which makes it difficult to have his voice on my tape. He really starts to earn negative points from me. Additionally he places a guy with his little daughter next to me, who was talking almost all of the time. Due to the big distance and this “side noise” it is almost impossible to understand the guide.

Beside these negative constraints the cave is really interesting. At some places the ceiling is so low that you have to duck to not hit the cave with your head. I am amazed how this is possible in a country where everything will be sued with incredible high amounts of money.

The tour reminds me a bit of the bored tourist handling at Mark Twain Cave. But most of the people don’t know it better and are very happy with the tour. I have seen a lot of way better cave tours in the past. Back at the landing I hike back to my car. There a guy starts talking to me. He was with me in the same group at Kickapoo Indian Caverns. He tells me about a wonderful water fall in this area. But I have trouble with his way description. When I have a rough idea of where it might be I thank him and we say goodbye.

I leave and try to follow his description. But I am not able to find the place. Therefore I drive on to my next destination, Pikes Peak State Park. Pike looked at this spot to build up a Fort in the future, which has never been built.

Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA
Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA

The parking lot is really busy. The park is free and according to this there are a lot of people from this area around on a public holiday like this. There is a map at the entrance and I try to get an overview of the park hiking paths. First I walk over to a masoned lookout where you have a nice view of the Wisconsin and the Mississippi confluence.

Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA
Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA
Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA
Bridal Veil Falls, Pikes Peak State Park, IA

After a couple of takes I hike a short distance back to the south into the wood. But the path ends soon at the parking lot and I turn around and hike the other direction. One of the park highlights is the Bridal Veil Fall. But there I am confronted with Labor Day issues. When I have set up my camera I have to wait almost half an hour until no one runs into my shot. But then I get some real nice takes which compensates for the wait.

I hike on but the time is not sufficient to do all trails. So I decide to take the trail along the Mississippi banks. While hiking two guys approach me and tell me that there is a deer along the way not too far away. This will be a good shot for my camera. But when I arrive, there are already some bloody tourists who try to approach the deer as close as possible until it flees — thank you, I know why I hate this tourist crap…

Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA
Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, IA

Pretty disappointed I hike on to another river lookout. There I have the chance for another couple of nice shots. The trail is now blocked by a couple of trees, which you can easily circle around. You can tell that this part is no longer maintained. After a short time I reach a steep decline which I will not enter due to the numerous mosquitoes and being that late in the day. I still have to hike back to my car, so I turn around.

McGregor, Main Street, Highway 76, IA McGregor, Main Street, Highway 76, IA
McGregor, Main Street, Highway 76, IA

The parking lot has emptied a little bit and most of the people get out their grills. I store everything in my car and mount my camera on my car pod again. Then I leave for the destination of today, the Super 8 in Boscobel. As I have made a reservation on my VIP–card I am not too worried about my arrival time. I already know the road to this place as I have driven it now a couple of times, more or less involuntary.

I check in around seven. My room was reserved but I assume I might have had even a chance without reservation. But so I was sure to have my room safe. Unfortunately the girl at the reception cannot tell me where to go for dinner. She is not from this area. She gives me the advice to just drive down main street and see what I will find.

In my room is the usual motel guide for this area and I pick two alternatives. They are all along main street. After running down the road I decide to take the “The Vale Inn”. I see an elderly guy at the door who enters the restaurant at the same time as I do. He looks like someone from this area, so I shouldn’t be too wrong here.

The restaurant doesn’t look like these typical tourist restaurants. It is a simple restaurant where the locals go. I order once again a steak, which is better than expected. It has way less fat and flax than the 8 ounce I had in Cassville.

Just past eight I leave the restaurant. When leaving I meet the old Gentleman again, which immediately leads to a brief conversation. He is really from this area. Then I drive back to my motel. I walk through the video tapes of today and get ready for my bed.

  • Sights
  • Kickapoo Indian Caverns (Fee $8)
  • Spook Cave (Fee $7)
  • Pikes Peak State Park
  • General
  • Breakfast: Country Kitchen, Richland Center
  • Dinner: The Vale Inn, Boscobel
  • Motel: Super 8, Boscobel
  • Distance: 152 miles