Mini goes to LaCrosse Wisconsin!



(Mini stopping to enjoy one of the Locks on the Mississippi River)

Mini Says: “I love Bicycle rides. My family loves me because not only am I cute but I’m practical too!”

One of the passions BigMan and I developed this summer was bicycle riding. Initially I picked it up to add to my fitness regime since it’s such a wonderful calorie burn and it gives me the freedom to eat the way I want to be able to eat, instead of eating like a rabbit counting calories. As the summer wore on and we got in better shape, increasing our distance, we decided to take a ‘Mini’ vacation to LaCrosse Wisconsin to ride the very first bike trail in America. Sparta, which hosted a train rail line back in the day, converted that rail line into a bike path when it was mothballed and a new line put in. Now, if you ride from the trail head in LaCrosse to Sparta, you can log 21+miles. From Sparta, you can continue up another 10+ miles to Tunnel #1, which is not only 1 of 3 wonderfully hand carved tunnels, but also a winter bat sanctuary.

Hubby and I ticked off over 40 miles Day 1 by riding from LaCrosse to Sparta and back again. Burning over 3,000 calories, we were able to fully enjoy amazing food and fun beverages in downtown LaCrosse. Then Day 2, Mini hauled the bikes to Sparta. We unloaded them, and started the 3% grade climb up to tunnel 1. Since it was sunday and we still had a drive back home, we only went as far as tunnel 1 before we headed back down.

The trail is all packed limestone. So, if it’s sunny and dry, its a breeze and we could cruise an easy 16 mph on the flats. We discovered however, that after a rain shower overnight, the trail is slow where it was damp. Be sure to have at least hybrid tires on your bicycle or it could be a rough go.

If you are near LaCrosse WI and have your bike on your roof….I highly recommend the ride. The ride sports some amazing views and downtown LaCrosse is quaint, full of friendly people and a great place to grab a post ride bite!

We fully enjoyed ourselves having a healthy vacation….

And Mini loved being admired, as usual!

(Mini getting ready to take a nap, at the bike path trail head in LaCrosse)



(Limestone bike path from LaCrosse to Sparta)



(Vistors Center in Sparta. Head left and its ALL uphill!)




(Tunnel #1. About 10 miles from Sparta. The doors were installed to close in winter to protect the bats)



(The Tunnel is long, dark and drippy. Bring a STRONG flashlight if you want to go on to Tunnels #2 & 3)


Introducing: Mini

Introducing: Mini

Mini says: “Hi! I’m Mini! I’m cute and I like to have fun!”

Yes Mini, You are cute as a button and we like to have fun. Mini joined our family last fall and has been feeling a little left out of Rockin’ The Mom Role.

So, today we begin ‘The Adventures of Mini’. Cause, well, Mini is just too cute to not have a spotlight!

Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

Traveling with my daughters, we pretty much stuck to sitting down to eat, due to the difficulty of finding any gluten free street food. It just doesn’t exist. However, while in Italy, my daughter was telling me, an adventurous eater, that I would enjoy trying the Lampredotto, which is sold on the streets in the piazzas around town. So, we made a point in our exploration of the city to stop at a street side kiosk. I bought mine in the Piazza della Signoria.

If you question whether boiled cow gut can be delish, yes it can! If you like beef short ribs, with the unctuous and savory gelatinous cartilage, you will love this. It isn’t quite gelatinous like cooked cartilage can be, and it definitely has a soft, but chewy texture. The vendor asked me how I wanted it, I just told him to do it like the locals eat, that means with the green salsa and chili sauce. I’m always astounded at how simple food can be so incredibly complex. The pairing of the savory, soft and chewy Lampredotto was balanced out by the sharp, green and fresh taste of the salsa and the very slight bite of the chili. The bread was crunchy crispy on the outside, but soft and sturdy on the inside, sturdy enough not to fall apart while walking and eating.

I marvel at the talent and resourcefulness of other cultures who do not let any part of the animal go to waste, taking what we Americans see as discards or only fit for dog food, and turning it into a cultural treat. Centuries of testing out culinary methods to make tripe terrific is a testament to the people of this town! (well, not exactly tripe, tripe is the first stomach, Lampredotto is made from the last stomach in the digestive tract)

So if you get to Florence, which is known for this simple street sandwich, I recommend giving it a try. If you click on the photo, it will take you to a youtube video of a chef explaining how to make one.