Saint Paul, MN Friday August 29
Friday the 22nd we were back on water again, this time on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Fund and the Mississippi National River and Recreation area sponsored a canoe trip from Hastings, MN to Prescott, WI. This is just about the very southern end of the national park. It is about a three-mile paddle.
There were 60 people, 10 to a canoe. Yes, these were big canoes, fashioned after the style used by the French-Canadian voyageurs. Wilderness Inquiry is the vendor handling the details of the canoe trip and uses 24′ canoes built by Northwest Canoe of St. Paul. Evidently, each canoe costs about $12,000.
The trip not only included the paddling, but several supplements including: a.) a send off by two musicians in Hastings; b.) a musician dressed as a voyageur, playing a concertina and singing tunes of that French Canadian trappers era; c.) a local interpreter telling stories of early settlers; and d.) poems and stories of the Prescott area by two local interpreters.
The evening was overcast which kept the likelihood of sunburn to a minimum. The canoes handled well but there was a little more paddling and less floating than we expected. We managed to keep up with the others and held up our portion of the paddling. The need for paddling was partially due to the need to be off the river before dark as the canoes do not have lights. As it was, a tugboat and its barges came into Prescott about 20 minutes after our arrival.
Saturday was partially land and partially water as we visited the lake cabin of a former co-worker of Ed’s. Three other ex-YJB people were there with spouses, one co-worker had been diagnosed with cancer and has ben going through treatment so it was great that he was able to make it for a good part of the day. A boat ride and excellent dinner were a wonderful way to spend part of the day but the haunting songs of the loons are always memorable. One could listen to them all day.
Wednesday was Fair day, the Great Minnesota Get-Together. We, and 125,000 others, spent all or part of the day there. The Minnesota State Fair has the largest average daily attendance of any state fair. The Texas State Fair has more total people but they go for 24 days. We made the 8 AM first bus from our local park and ride lot. Good thing we were early, at 7:40 we were about 25th in line. The bus driver said he had 93 people on the 57 passenger bus. There were still people waiting as the first bus pulled away.
I volunteered at the Mississippi River Recreation booth from 10 AM to 1 PM. I felt sorry for the rangers who pulled 8 hour shifts; my legs and back were sore from just three hours. Chris did some walking, eating, and listened to music at the Leinie bandshell while I was slaving away.
The new transit hub at the west end is a great improvement from being dropped off at the Como Ave parking lots of previous years. We toured the new West End Market, sampling new foods and made a stop at the booth run by Foci, a local glass blowing cooperative on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. We had been meaning to visit the studio and galleries in person, this was at least a reminder to us to squeeze that in before we head out of town on September 8 for the next long trip. Sarah Leismer created an entry for the seed art competition and won second place, a portrait of a light rail train against the city skyline backdrop. We stopped by to see that in person.
We were pretty tired by 8 pm so headed for home; missing the animal barns this year. The three-hour stint at the booth does reduce the walking around time in addition to the sore legs it creates.
Ed and Chris Aug. 29 4:30 pm
The article about the Mississippi River written by the Hastings Star Gazette