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riding the Driftless Area. The Hillsboro Brewing Company (est. 1846) in the middle of town offers a scrumptious and varied menu (try the nachos!) and craft beers from their brewery just down the street. As testa- ment to the popularity of the area for motorcyclists, just outside of Hillsboro is the Blue Highway Motorcycle Lodge. The six, elegantly crafted cabins there are only available to motorcyclists, and though they are situated on 40 secluded acres of a for- ested bluff, each cabin boasts four-star accommodations. The night I was lucky to stay there I was pleasantly surprised by all the special touches owners Dan and Brandy have included at each cabin. Besides the paved paths leading to each cabin, fresh fruit, whirlpool tubs, boot dryers, gas fire- places, kitchenettes, screened porches, and even motorcycle ports to keep bikes out of the elements make this stop tailor-made for riders. The Blue Highway Motorcycle lodge offers MOA members a five percent discount. After another day crisscrossing the area I


stayed for a night at the Blakely Hobbit, near Viola (home to the internationally known S&S Cycle, call ahead for tours). It’s been said you can’t turn around in the Driftless area without stepping into a trout stream, and the Hobbit cabins overlook one of the most famous of these, the West Fork of the Kickapoo River. Like many bed and breakfasts and cabins in the area catering to anglers, the Hobbit may be a little rustic for some; however, the unspoiled views, the quiet serenity, and the personal attention from Eddie, the owner for over 30 years, made this a great, restful spot for me. The Hobbit offers two cabins, tent camping, and RV parking, all on the banks of the gently burbling West Fork. Heading south on State Highway 82/56


led me to Viroqua, a small town with a large number of unique attractions. The Saturday Farm Market features many booths offering locally grown, organic produce, Amish baked goods, pastured meats and preserves, as well as handmade crafts and furniture. Visitors also enjoy taking the walking or driving tours of local vineyards and the unique round barns that dot the area. Other unique attractions include the Fourtney Underground Theater and the Viroqua Food Cooperative, which serves three meals a day made from local and organic foods and is popular for its soup and salad


bar. I can vouch for their paninis! From Viroqua, it’s a short run west on


State Hwy 14 to the Mississippi, the western boundary of the Wisconsin portion of the Driftless Area, and Hwy 35, The Great River Road. This route, traveling both north and south, is nationally known by motorcyclists for its majestic views of the Mississippi river and the bluffs that bracket it, especially in the fall when colors peak and clouds of migrating wildfowl use this flyway. Visitors to the Getaway in September should be aware however, that La Crosse will be hold- ing its Octoberfest celebration during the same weekend, so expect heavier than nor- mal traffic. Depending on how you feel about crowds, Octoberfest features three days of fun activities, including parades, music, a craft beer night, countless food vendors, contests, and as much lederhosen as you’d ever care to see. Northeast of La Crosse, many riders


make a pilgrimage of sorts to the Mindoro Cut. At the summit of a cavalcade of twist- ies and switchbacks, County Trunk C (for- merly State Hwy 108) slashes down through 74 feet of solid dolomite and sandstone, earning it the title as the second deepest hand-hewn cut in the western hemisphere and a place on the National Register of His- toric Places. Visitors can pick up County C north in West Salem, just east of La Crosse, and after traversing the cut, motorcyclists are often drawn to Top Dawgs Pub and Grub in Mindoro. Though it might look a little shabby from the outside, Top Dawgs is known for offering 108 different hamburg- ers, not to mention locally made, fresh bleu


Links to more information:


• Black River Falls Getaway Information: www.bmwmoa.org/ (select “Events,” “MOA Getaway Black River Falls”


• Sand Creek Brewing: sandcreekbrewing.com/ • Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls: ho-chunkgaming.com/blackriverfalls/ • Cranberry Discovery Center: discovercranberries.com/ • Deke Slayton Space and Bicycle Museum: dekeslaytonmuseum.org/ • Kickapoo Valley Reserve: kickapoovalley.wi.gov/Home • Wildthings Fur Company: wildthingsfur.com/ • Blue Highway Motorcycle Lodge: bluehighwaymotorcyclelodge.net/ • The Blakely Hobbit: blakleyhobbit.com/ • S&S Cycle: www.sscycle.com/ • La Crosse Octoberfest: oktoberfestusa.com/ • Viroqua Tourism: viroqua-wisconsin.com/viroqua-tourism/what-to-do/ area-attractions


• Driftless Destinations: driftlessdestinations.com September 2016 BMW OWNERS NEWS 73


cheese that is to die for. Each time you sam- ple one of the burgers, your ticket is punched, and after trying the full menu, you earn a free steak dinner. Paul, the owner, told me Top Dawgs has served rid- ers from all over the world, and, get this, he claims he opens at 4:30 a.m. and closes the place sometimes as late as 2 a.m.! It’s impossible to do more than just


scratch the surface of riding and touring opportunities in southwestern Wisconsin; in fact, once you’re in the Driftless area, it’s a challenge to find a route you won’t enjoy. However, remember much of this area is rural, and this means deer, buggies, bicy- clists, and a bunch more things to stay alert for. Coming around one sweeper near Hill- sboro, I was even confronted with a recalci- trant cow, and another rider told me she had just had a face-off with a donkey. So, take your time, and enjoy this wonderful resource for motorcycling adventure. In addition to the links below, many of the routes I’ve mentioned can be viewed on YouTube, but for a comprehensive look at maps of six suggested motor routes and 88 attractions, visit DriftlessDestinations.com or pick up one of their free brochures avail- able at restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores in the area. Whether or not the southwestern Wis-


consin Driftless Area becomes your “power spot” as it has for me, its exciting roads are what Castenada might have called “paths with heart,” and, if I can borrow one more quote from him, “…there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.”


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