2022’s Polar Run Rally 8 begins in the southern suburb of Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Participants know that the end destination is Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, but the route to get there is a mystery. Checkpoints will pop up on the way, often involving funtivities of various sorts!
All Roads Lead to Tony’s
The first checkpoint for this 2022’s rally is a house in the town of Mazeppa, Minnesota. The instructions ask you what color the house is. While this sounds like something easily obtained from Google street view, you can never rely on when street view was last updated.
Our second checkpoint is a graffiti tag on the side of a building in Millville, also conveniently not on Google maps.
After the graffiti, we are heading to a small town named Dumfries, Minnesota. The opportunity presents itself for some great and hilarious photos.
Following Dumfries, we head to Weaver Landing and meet up with the mighty Mississippi River. From Weaver Landing, there is a fantastic stretch of road that takes us to Tony’s Saloon. Tony’s is an oasis in the tiny town of Elba, Minnesota and when you arrive you are greeted by Tony himself. Tony has a phenomenal homemade Bloody Mary to offer the navigators of the group, and it wouldn’t be Minnesota without ample pull tabs to go around.
The next stretch of road takes us to Lanesboro, Minnesota. This will be the lunch stop for today’s rally. Lanesboro, while another intimately small town, is located right on the Root River bike trail and accommodates all of the cyclists during the summer. This is why we come in the winter (ha!). Aside from the cyclists, the city of Lanesboro has a wonderful offering of restaurants to appease even the angriest summer crowds.
In Lanesboro, we stop at Sylvan Brewing and are met with a tree stump, nails, and a 5 pound mallet. This is our introduction to Hammer-Schlagen. Hammer-Schlagen is a game where a person uses one hand to attempt to strike a nail with the wrong end of a mallet. The lowest number of strikes to bury the nail wins, and one team on the rally takes two hits. Meanwhile, I take 18 strikes to get the job done.
Just outside of Lanesboro there is a Kwik Trip checkpoint where we need to report the number of gas pumps they have. Next stop: Decorah, Iowa.
What Do Iowan’s Do?
I often wonder what Iowan’s do for fun. It turns out the answer is quite simple: Iowans bowl.
Our eighth destination this year is Skyline Lanes in Decorah, IA. On a Friday around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, it is obvious that Skyline Lanes is the place to be. Rally participants have two frames each to bowl their hearts out. The Polar Run family squeezes itself into the only two available lanes and the locals not-so-gently let us know that they are greatly anticipating those lanes when we finish.
And when we do inevitably finish our frames, the rally heads to Hubba Hubba in Waukon for the final checkpoint prior to the hotel.
Prairie Du Chien
To hear that Prairie Du Chien was the destination for this year’s rally was surprising. Southern Wisconsin and Iowa do not typically sound like winter rally material. However, this thought was completely unfounded when I got on the roads.
Prairie Du Chien is an adorable little town and the Waterfront Hotel makes for splendid accommodations. My wife and I had an adventure of our own, exploring some backroads and ending up in Galena, Illinois.
And The Winner Is…
On Saturday, we take our action shots with some of the rally participants that are heading off the beaten path. Awards are Saturday night and we would like to congratulate Trent and Evan from “Team Expedition Unknown” for getting first place in The Polar Rally 8!