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Mike

Info About the Region You'll be Riding at the 2015 Un

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Mike

We're going to be gathering in a beautiful area known as the Driftless Zone (or Driftless Area). This area is a bit different than what you might expect of the Midwest. Missed by the glaciation of the ice ages, the Driftless is characterized by deep valleys cutting through high ridges. It's largely agricultural, but much of the landscape is too steep for farming.

 

And the roads are terrific. The whole area is a patchwork of curvy state and county roads (most of which are paved) that are lightly traveled and offer everything from miles of sweepers to the occasional switchback.

 

I've posted it before, but if you have a few minutes, you might want to check out this

It runs around 27 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Rocer

Thanks Mike. The video was absolutely fascinating. Kath and I have had the great experience of hiking in caves in the area known as the Cradle of Human Kind in South Africa. While they weren't referred to as sink holes there were many surface break throughs in the high ceilings in these caves which kinda gave us 'the willies' when walking topside again. We made sure we stayed on the marked paths. I wonder if that's the way it is in the area where the sink holes in the video are located. Maybe some unaccounted for cows? Maybe some prehistoric skeletons yet to be discovered. What an interesting area.

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ltljohn

Thanks for posting that. A half hour well spent!

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Bud
Thanks Mike. The video was absolutely fascinating. Kath and I have had the great experience of hiking in caves in the area known as the Cradle of Human Kind in South Africa. While they weren't referred to as sink holes there were many surface break throughs in the high ceilings in these caves which kinda gave us 'the willies' when walking topside again. We made sure we stayed on the marked paths. I wonder if that's the way it is in the area where the sink holes in the video are located. Maybe some unaccounted for cows? Maybe some prehistoric skeletons yet to be discovered. What an interesting area.

 

I think most cows are smart enough to avoid them, people................????????

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Cows:

DSC00802-L.jpg

 

Corn:

IMG_1674-L.jpg

 

Hills:

IMG_1716-L.jpg

 

and cows:

i-qBs54rj-L.jpg

 

The Driftless zone's got 'em all in spades. I'll try to route all y'all around the cows, but no guarantees; keep your wits about you, they're wiley critters.

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Burt

How about cheese heads?

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Joe Frickin' Friday
How about cheese heads?

 

How about 'em?

 

i-jZhmZCg-L.jpg

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Burt

I don't know what to say.

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Bud
How about cheese heads?

 

How about 'em?

 

i-jZhmZCg-L.jpg

 

I'm a cheese head by birth, but I never got one of those. :cry:

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Joe Frickin' Friday
I don't know what to say.

 

Fear not; we look forward to having you join our ranks just a few short months from now. :grin:

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Joe Frickin' Friday
I don't know what to say.

 

Maybe this one looks less ornery:

 

i-pKRkfsg-L.jpg

 

:grin:

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Burt

I can still become a cheese head, eh?

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tallman

Lock up your sheep and children. Those darn cheese heads are coming...

Coneheads-movie-01.jpg

Edited by tallman

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Mike

My wife grew up not too far from UnRally XIV headquarters, and over time I've come to appreciate what a unique area it is. The area, known as the Driftless Zone, the Driftless Area, or just the Driftless, is an area of about 24,000 square miles, distinctly different than most of the Midwest, which is unceasingly flat.

 

The Driftless is simply an area that spans parts of four states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa) which was untouched by glaciation. Because of the geology of the region, the glacial lobes circled around the Driftless, sparing the area the leveling and filling effect of the last several ice ages. The ridges and valleys were spared and to some extent became even more pronounced through the erosive effect of the outflow of glacial lakes that formed as the glaciers retreated.

 

Though the hills are not nearly as vertiginous as the mountains of the west or the Appalachians, it's still a pleasant, rolling landscape. What makes it great for motorcycles is the abundance of roads that cut through valleys and occasionally rise over the ridges. There are thousands of miles of lightly traveled paved roads that offer anything from lazy sweepers to more technical switchbacks. And, while riding like a fool is never to be encouraged, the fact that these roads are, generally speaking, lightly traveled means that you can fully enjoy the capabilities of your machine. Of course, you need to bear in mind the fact the occasional farm tractor, Amish buggy or wandering deer share these roads . . . a modicum of common sense goes a long way.

 

Here's a collection of photos gleaned from the web, which may give you a better sense of the Driftless:

 

tudare3.jpg

 

Panorama_-Ridgetop-Haze_Web.jpg

 

articleLarge.jpg

 

640px-Bluff.jpeg

 

p848786827-3.jpg

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John Ranalletta

Ideal spots for fracking towers and wind turbines. Just kidding. Thanks, Mike. Looking forward to it.

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Mike
Ideal spots for fracking towers and wind turbines.

 

Touchy subjects. :eek: I don't think there's much of a chance of finding oil reserves there, but quite a bit of fracking sand is mined in the area, something that causes a concern because it changes the landscape in a way that's irreversible. As you'd guess, there is a tug of war occurring between the proponents of mining and those opposed to it. Not too many wind turbines yet, but there is an area in NE Illinois where quite a few have been erected. Over time, I've changed my opinion, from thinking they were graceful, to now viewing them as a real blight on the landscape.

 

Still, the problem faced in this area is that the land isn't worth too much. The hills are too rugged for grain farming, and the general topography is not conducive to the industrial level of dairy farming that has become the norm. The temptation is to permit any sort of economic development, but that's tempered by the fact that there's a growing recognition that the natural habitat is unique and irreplaceable. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the years to come.

 

The good news (for those of us who selfishly want to guard what's there) is that there isn't a huge rush into the area. The flip side, though, is that incomes are relatively low.

 

From a naturalist's viewpoint, it's a pretty phenomenal area. Of course, the Mississippi River cuts right through it, so one of the world's largest flyways is a prominent natural feature, bringing an abundance of birds, ranging from swans to wood ducks to bald eagles. The fisheries are impressive, too--not only are the Mississippi and the other major rivers a source of fish in great abundance, the roughly 6,000 miles of spring-fed trout streams place it among the world's top destinations for fly fishermen.

 

And, one of the direct results of the lack of glaciation is that it serves as a point where northern and southern wildlife species converge--deer, wolves, bear, the occasional mountain lion, rattlesnakes, etc. There are even a few Pleistocene era relic species (invertebrates and plants) that can be found there, but nowhere else.

 

Also, for those who are so inclined, there are some interesting historic sites. A bit to the south, along the Mississippi River, one will find Prairie du Chien, the second oldest town in Wisconsin (Marquette and Joliet arrived there in 1673, with the first European settlement around 1685). Near there, on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River, you'll find the Effigy Mounds National Monument, which preserves a couple hundred of the thousands of burial and ceremonial mounds that dot the landscape. Cave paintings dating back thousands of years can be found in some places, though the archaeologists tend to keep their locations quiet, out of fear of vandalism. All things considered, the area has a fascinating history.

 

We've got a small plot of land (19 acres) in the Driftless that's mostly forested, with a cabin that we built a couple of years ago. It's really a peaceful, beautiful place to visit. The three days of an Un are not a lot of time to take it all in, but I hope that those who join us will come to appreciate the area.

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EffBee

All I know is that there's a Culver's up in Black River Falls. I was in WI about 10 years ago, and ate at a Culver's. But the person I was with warned me not to eat one of their Concrete Shakes because, according to him, my delicate non-Wisconsin digestive system would not be able to handle the ultra-thick creaminess of that particular Wisconsin specialty. I heeded his advice, and have regretted it ever since.

 

So, I gonna go for it. And if it fills me up and takes 3 days to digest, I'll just save that much more on meals.

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John Ranalletta

Fernando, you're in luck. Culver's headquarters is in Sauk City, Wisconsin, a mere 1.5 hr ride.

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greiffster

A little cheese with that wine?

 

Apparently grapes grow well in the driftless zone. Who put this in the middle of the UN?

 

Great River Road Wine Trail

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Spotted in the grocery store the other day:

 

i-HxnM95N-M.jpg

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