I mentioned in Monday's post that my actual travel outfits were much more mundane than the seersucker combos I pictured. We set out early last Wednesday morning with DH's youngest son and all his summer gear for the headwaters of the Missississippi River. He plans to spend the next 100 days floating the entire length to New Orleans. I know that privately DH and I have had our concerns about this trip, but "Huck" talked about it for over a year and little by little the plans have fallen into place.
So, while blogger friends are tripping about France and Italy, I'm headed into the wilderness 700 miles from home, just an hour south of the Canadian border and within the same time zone. The amount of gear he is carrying meant that there was no other way to travel but in our hybrid Highlander. For hour after hour, we drove.
I had packed loose pairs of cargos and jeans, sleeveless blouses, and long-sleeved tees. And my trusty red tennies, because I had envisioned needing to muck about it in the marshy areas where his trip would begin. I was glad to have the loose clothing because parts of my body swelled from the inactivity of travel. And I was glad to have the layering tees as the weather up north proved to be consistently cooler than I had expected.
At St. Paul, where another river merges with the Mississippi, I gulped at the width and the height of the river this time of year. "Huck" stopped to purchase a "map" of the river from the Army Corps of Engineers and emerged from the building in downtown St. Paul with a 300 page book!
We stayed our first night at St. Cloud, Minnesota, and even wandered through several thrift stores before day's end, simply to have the exercise. Thursday morning found us at Lake Itasca, one of 10,000 small lakes in this area of the North American continent, and a remnant of a long ago glacier. We walked across the headwaters and realized that the river there simply wasn't deep enough to float the craft "Huck" planned to travel in.
We spent much of Thursday scouting a good access point for his kayak and found one at Coffee Pot Campground. And then, we traced as much of the route he would follow his first week as we could. The fears that his father and I had had on Wednesday diminished a bit as we realized that the river this far north was still somewhat tame and that he would gradually learn how to deal with the wider, higher waters downstream.
On Friday morning, I helped carry his gear down to the water and then served as official photographer while the kayak was aired up and loaded. Those who are interested can view the videos of his departure here and here. Or, you can follow his daily tweets at @C_L_Lowry. DH was invited to go and declined, realizing that I would need help with childcare responsibilities this summer as I attempt to teach online and keep grandsons entertained.
I had had visions of taking a meandering route home and stopping to do a bit of sight-seeing along the way. My apologies to Meri, and Sally, and Nora and Megan, all bloggers I might have looked up had we not been quite so intimidated by rush hour traffic in the Twin Cities on Friday evening. When we stopped for the third night, DH was uninterested in visiting the Spam Museum, a real place near the Hormel plant in Austin, MN.
I must say that we found Minnesota folk to be amongst the friendliest and most helpful folks we've encountered anywhere. And while their cornfields are a bit behind those in Kansas, the farms are lush and picture perfect places. In Iowa, I was asked to do a bit of the driving and agreed if DH would snap at least one photo I could use on the blog.
I will say this though. Not enough of us avail ourselves of our national and state parks, hidden gems supported by our tax dollars.
Perhaps by Labor Day, we'll be making a similar trip to New Orleans.