#148d Chippewa Club in WI

Fleeter Log #148d
Chippewa Club ... Where Everybody Knows Your Name!
2009 August 30

Entire trip here on Spotwalla  

After witnessing the start of the IBR in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then welcoming the ralliers at the first check-in point near Chicago, I wish them well as they continue the rally to the West Coast. Myself? I feel an inner tug to stretch my trip west of the Mississippi and into Minnesota before turning back to the East Coast.

Day 10 - Sunday
August 30, 2009
196 miles

Savage, MN to Black River Falls, WI

Some days start out good, then ...  just get better and better. Today is an example of why I fleeter. My readers in Texas will understand this sentiment: It's 9am and 50 degrees when I start my daily adventure. In August! Under a strong sun! Yes, the sun is out and the air is crisp ... much like a nice, cool March morning in Texas. Perfect start to a fleetering day. I pull on my neck buff, zip my jacket up to the top and proceed to saddle up to head out.

My first stop comes in Red Wing, Minnesota just before crossing the Mississippi River into Wisconsin. I find this elucidative mural to document that I was here. Someone had to park my GS there! Wherever my motorcycle is photographed, I have trod.
Red Wing, MN
This is the second time I've ridden through Red Wing. Last time, I was just passing through. But today, I want to take time to learn a little more about what Red Wing has to offer. A good starting place is Soldier's Park on the southeast edge of town. From here one can survey the entire town and the Mississippi River separating Minnesota from Wisconsin.
Red Wing, MN
While looking out toward the north from my high perch, I see an interesting bluff. Then leaving Soldier's Park, I see a sign ... Barn Bluff, that way. I decide to take a look.

Barn Bluff is a large bluff to the east of Red Wing sandwiched between town and the Mississippi River. It's so named because of its towering size and the way it stands out to anyone traveling the River.

For the more adventuresome, there's the Barn Bluff Trail leading to the top of the bluff. I only went to the top of the second landing. When I saw the extensive trail leading far and beyond to the top, I decided that I wasn't properly attired for the two mile hike to the top.

Watch out! Looks like Gulliver is taking a stroll in Red Wing.

Not Gulliver, but a really big Red Wing boot.

Size 638 1/2, to be precise ...
The World's Largest Boot!
Red Wing, Minnesota is home and namesake to the famous brand.

Fiberglas boots are spread all about town. Some are a bit more dressed up than the traditional style.

Moving eastward into the Land of the Cheese ... Wisconsin. But today, it's the land of the Chippewa. I head south on hwy 35 a bit before I take use of hwy S to connect to US10 in Plum City. Just shy of Durand, as I am crossing the bridge over Thompson Lake, I look down and see some fishing going on. After a few seconds of debating, I pull a u-turn and then proceed down into the gravel parking area.

This young fellow is proud to show off his catch of the day!

After the little master fisher fella took his heavy stringer to meet his dad at the waiting pickup, I turned my lens to the fly fisher.

He was making fluid moves with the line as it danced over his head. This art has long been a skill I've thought about giving a try, but never have ... until today.
Fly fishing can be such a graceful art. John is the guy making line dance in the space around him. After snapping a few photos, I set my camera down on my bike and wander over to compliment him on how easy he makes it look. John shrugged off the complement with a timid smile explaining that it really isn't so difficult. Then, he even offered to show me how it's done. To my delight, he walked over to his pickup and pulled out a smaller fly rod -- easier for beginners, he explained.

As amazed as I am that he is willing to take time to show a beginner the basics of getting a fly from the shore to out there in the water, I don't want to disturb his fishing. He explains that today he is just working on his technique and experimenting on how some of his new home-tied flies will behave in the air and on the water; not really looking to catch anything.

After almost an hour of "fly-fishing 101", I decide it's time for me to shove off. Here it is almost 2pm and I haven't even made it 100 miles from my morning start in Savage. And now, I'm thinking that all this fly-fishing has made me hungry.

Just across the Chippewa River from Thompson Lake is the small town of Durand.

I take a turn down Durand's old Main Street along the Chippewa River. I ride to the end of the street and back up again. I spot a couple options, but it is hard to tell what might be a place that serves food versus what is just a bar serving alcohol and the occasional cola.

Even though I'm really wanting to stop at a place away from the typical fast food joints on the other side of town, I'm not too sure about the options I'm seeing along the old main drag. As I make my second pass on Main Street, a guy is waiting to cross the street. I stop to ask his opinion on where to get a decent burger. Without hesitation, he points to the establishment across the street to where he is headed. He answered so quickly, I question him. I ask him if HE spends much time there. He responded in the affirmative and went on to explain that he and his wife, Shari, own the place. Well now, at this point, it would be just rude for me not to stop and give it a try.
He walked on across the street and inside the Chippewa Club while I made a u-turn to park the GS under the flag hanging near the front door. A few minutes later, I followed him through the same door. (UPDATE edit: Chippewa Club is now the Roostertail Bar & Grill. Address: 106 West Main Street, Durand, WI.)

Not sure what I expected as I entered inside ... I've never stopped at a small town, Wisconsin tavern in the middle of the day for lunch. But, whatever I thought,  ... it isn't what I got.

However, it is what I hear that surprises me, not what I see. Before the door even closes behind me or my eyes can fully adjust from the bright outdoor sun ... I hear someone call out my name to welcome me. My name?! How the heck?! I just rode into town. I haven't been inside these town limits for even 10 minutes and have never been here before today. The only person I've even spoke with while in Durand, was ... oh yea, I spoke with Rob, the owner ... and he walked in a few minutes before me.

As my eyes adjusted, I looked where the greeting came ... she was smiling and looking my way from her spot behind the bar. Sarah, the bartender, was already sitting a coaster out in front of an empty stool at the bar as she indicated a place for me to join the regulars. I looked around, but didn't see Rob.

It is an odd feeling riding into a town I've never visited, knowing no one, then walk into a local tavern to be welcomed like you are a Cheers regular,and just entered into a place where everybody knows your name. The Coke tasted better when offered by a friend...

Even though the simple menu had a handful of selections, I opted for my standard ... cheeseburger and fries.

While Sarah went to work at the grill, I left my red riding jacket on the barstool and went to find the washroom.

A couple of the regulars showed me around the place. The right half of the joint is where a stage is set up for bands. A most interesting history ... the stage is set up in an old bowling ally. Backstage, in this case, is what used to be the set up area for the bowling pins.

The Chippewa Club Stage is not only known for the bands that play here, but also the setting for an award winning photo by Carl Corey featuring Marty (the guy sitting to the left of me at the bar).

Chippewa Club hosts a number of bands playing a variety of genres, but best known for the house band ... LOVE BUZZARDS Blues Band.

Speaking of blues ...
Can you identify the seat I've slid in to here?
It may be kitschy, but, parked next to my motorcycle, is the Blues Mobile.

As if the day wasn't special enough already. While I was outside saying my farewells to Rob and the regulars ... I look up to see that, of all things ... I know the guy driving by in his pickup. It's my friend, John Welch, the fly fisherman. Turns out he's a regular here at Shari's Chippewa Club. And, he has even been known to blow harmonica on the Chippewa stage every few weeks.

It's almost 4pm before I leave my new friends in Durand. With a smile under my helmet and a warm spot in my heart for a small town in Wisconsin, I continue my way through the heartland.

As I ride, I think about my interactions in Durand and how they've left such a positive impression on me. It comes to me that ... As people and places make impressions on us, so do we make impressions on other people.

I dwell on this as I pass through small towns and the people in them. I think about the people I interact with as I fleeter about the country. As these people cross my path, I am making an impression upon them.

I grasp the importance that I should keep this certitude in mind, because as I travel, it is me crossing their path. And in doing so, I should strive to leave them with a smile and a warm place in their hearts.

Next stop, PIE!

Located off I94, I predict that Black River Falls will have plenty of lodging options.  As many small to medium towns have little to offer in the way of places to stay a night ... especially if rolling in at 7pm. Despite the many lengthy stops I've afforded myself today, I still make it to Black River Falls with plenty of light left.

There's a lot of ice cream eating going on this time of evening ... even at a mild 65 degrees.

The ice cream doesn't melt all over your hand before you get down to the cone.

 August in Wisconsin... 
You gotta love it!

I sleep well with the orange moose keeping watch at Best Western's Arrowhead Lodge in Black River Falls.

 Leave a smile in the hearts of those whose paths we cross. 

 Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs


  1. Elucidative mural? Certitude? Huh? You're shaming me girl.
    Nice report. Somewhere up there, I think where 94 crosses the river, there was a big ol' paddle-wheel boat-restaurant that had the best frog legs I've ever had. The frogs up there have to weigh in around 2 lbs. apiece.
    Love the picture of the ol' guy in the bar.
    Keep pedaling.

  2. LOVE the blog....thanks so much for sharing. John Welch is such a great guy....and the one I call DAD! He will love to see this! Safe travels!
    Jennelle (Welch) Wolf

  3. Jennelle, Thanks for the comment. Your dad was the highlight of a very good day! Tell him hello and wish all my friends in Durand a warm Hello from The One that fleetered through town one afternoon.

  4. Thanks for visiting our hometown and giving Dad a chance to share his love of fishing. We know he enjoyed it as much as you did. Safe travels!
    Jamie (Welch) Bowe