Dad crosses the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca, MN. 7/16/2011
July 17, 2011--St. Cloud, MN
Calamity!! Michael's computer is broken, so I wasn't able to blog last night. Without constant internet service I feel like the pioneers must have felt (but with a cell phone, GPS, e-reader...).
Anyway... On Saturday we drove north to try to get into Lake Itasca State Park. Like other state run stuff in MN the park was closed, but we found an entrance which, though closed to traffic, was very close to where we wanted to be, so we parked on the road and walked in. The visitor's center was closed but all the info about the headwaters of the Mississippi was posted outside, so no problem.
The Mississippi flows out of Lake Itasca in a very narrow stream, so we were able to step across it. And it's shallow, so you can wade down the middle if you want. We saw some old guy (my age, probably) take off his shoes and wade down the river, but he didn't roll up his jeans, so they were soaked. Old people are crazy! We walked around the lake for awhile battling deer flies and then headed north towards Bemidji.
A wet-jeaned pilgrim's progress, Lake Itasca, MN. 7/16/2011
Bemidji, as all of you are no doubt aware, is the home of the famous huge statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the blue Ox. You've seen pictures of them. And it turns out northern MN is full of statues of Paul and Babe. We saw one today in which Paul was holding a bowling ball and babe had a bowling pin in his (her?) mouth.
Dad didn't mention the huge lake that Bemidji lay astride. Bemidji, MN, 7/16/2011
After Bemidji we headed south and stayed overnight in the small town of Brainerd.
This morning, while waiting for Best Buy to open so Michael could have the laptop checked out--they said it's toast--we hung around in a huge sporting goods/farming stuff/auto store called Fleet Farm. Among scads of other things, it must have at least 10,000 fishing poles. Fishing is very big here, as are hunting and snowmobiling.
Paul and Babe sculpture, Brainerd. Brainerd, MN, 7/17/2011
After Best Buy we took a walking tour of Brainerd that I had downloaded on to my Nook. Kind of interesting, but most interesting is that almost all the historic sites mentioned are long gone. So walking around looking at the sites is kind of dumb. But we did it. Interestingly, the place where we parked, the First National Bank, which is still actually there, was once robbed by Pretty Boy Floyd and his gang. They left town spraying bullets from their machine guns, just like the movies.
The bowling Paul and Babe were a highlight of Baxter, MN. Baxter, MN, 7/17/2011
Next stop was Little Falls. There's a dam there, and there used to be a logging operation, with logjams and the whole nine yards of logging. No longer there, of course, but still fun to look at the old stuff. We walked around town looking at old stores, etc. The town may bustle during the week (though I doubt it), but on Sunday it is completely dead. And that's part of its charm if you're just visiting.
A big mural in Little Falls depicting River Pigs shepherding logs down the river. Little Falls, MN, 7/17/2011
Some random observations: It's very, very hot and humid. Every time I get out of the car or a building, my glasses fog up. It's supposed to be this way most of the week, with temps in the mid to high 90s. It's hard to believe it gets so cold in the winter. And speaking of snow, mailboxes along the highway are designed so they can be raised as the snowplows pile the snow higher and higher.
Tomorrow it's on to Minneapolis; Michael needs an art gallery fix.