Day 34 Polka Dot Pure Milk

Today we left Waconia, Minnesota under clear skies and began peddling towards the twin cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). We rode on several bike trails through both cities. In Minneapolis parts of the trail were divided for bikes going in each direction – just like the interstate. There was also a third trail for runners/walkers. Perhaps the trails are very busy on the weekends or maybe it is government pork.

We rode through the Mill Ruins Park. There are waterfalls (St. Anthony Falls) on the Mississippi and in the 1850’s a dam was built to harness the water power. Saw and textile mills were built. By 1925 the North Star Woolen Company was the nation’s largest manufacturer of woolen blankets. They remained a significant industry in Minneapolis until the 1940’s.

The dominant industry in the 1870’s became flour milling. Pillsbury and others made this area the country’s leading flour milling center from 1880 to 1930. Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World”.

Also in this same area is the only arched bridge made of stone on the Mississippi River. It is cleverly called the Stone Arch Bridge and was constructed by the Great Northern Railway. The metal truss was added later to allow larger boats to pass. The structure is now used as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

The Mill Ruins Park area is undergoing a renaissance and young hipsters are living in loft apartments in the North Star Woolen building.

While peddling on the trail through St. Paul a lady with a flat tire yelled out to us for help. She couldn’t get the tire back on the rim. I did the easy part and installed the tire. Chad did the hard part and pumped it up to 95 psi. She was from Cleveland so like any good Pittsburgh/Cleveland encounter we traded insults.

Around Stillwater, Minnesota it began to drizzle. It was unfortunate because Stillwater looked like a neat town. The rain persisted until we were about 5 miles from our destination, Hastings, Minnesota.

Hastings is on the Mississippi River and is famous for a spiral bridge. The bridge that crossed the Mississippi had to be high enough for steamboats but that meant the approach would go over the town of Hastings. So they made the bridge spiral right into downtown. The bridge was replaced in 1951. Here is the courthouse.


  • Waconia to Hastings, Minnesota.
  • Distance: 93.3 miles (150 km)
  • Climbing: 3276 feet (999 m)
  • Temperature: 50 – 58°F (10 – 14°C)

Dad and Bicycles

In the early 1980’s Dad began working on other people’s bikes. In the garage he added a cabinet with lots of little drawers for parts. In the basement the old darkroom drying racks were repurposed to store tires. Most of the bikes he worked on were department store quality.

It always seemed like they came to pick up their bicycles when we sat down to eat. There was usually a bike or two in the garage being worked on. The work kept him busy and provided a little spending money.

Dad also sold Beacon brand bicycles. They were some of the first bikes from Taiwan. They were very inexpensive and could compete with department store bikes. Their motto was “Bring home the Beacon.”

4 thoughts on “Day 34 Polka Dot Pure Milk

  1. Love the history that you provide in your write-ups. Very well written. I especially like your family stories. Your dad’s bicycle repair shop story was very interesting. Thoroughly enjoying all of your posts. Thanks


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