Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Highway 61, Visited

Hello, everyone! We're back out on the river! I hope you enjoyed our pictures post, and Kevin's explanation of the Minnesota Nice, and haven't been getting too antsy for news from the actual Mississipp. We spent a long weekend in the Twin Cities, recharging our (cell phone) batteries and waiting for Ryan to finish taking the LSAT so we could drive down to Winona and meet him. Now, we are camped on a sand bar a dozen miles north of La Crosse, MN. We just finished cooking dinner, and are listening to the Twins game on an AM/FM radio Kevin picked up in the cities. It has been a perfect day, and the Twins are winning, 5-3. It is dusk, and the river lies still.

In the Twin Cities, we stayed with Kevin's parents, who have been wonderful and accomodating during both of our stays. Thank you, Mr. And Mrs. McNellis! We did so many things. We ate breakfast with my old family friends Richie and Mickey Rosenberg in the Fochet Tower, the first skyscraper built west of the Mississippi. We went to a McNellis graduation party (congratulations Daniel!). We went to REI and bought sandals, went to a bookstore and bought books, went to a Chipotle and bought burritos. We crisscrossed over the Mississippi in air-conditioned cars a half-dozen times, maybe more. We went to concerts and bars and a pseudo-rave, and stood around with other people our age, watching musicians our age perform, everyone in their impractical, hipster clothing and smoking their cigarettes, seeking something fresh and invigorating in the hot, city night. Who knows if any of us found it. Two guys at one concert told Danny we had to stop in Quincy, Illinois. "More girls than you!
'll even
believe," they said. We ran around and hung around and made friends, and drove back to Kevin's to sleep.

On Monday night, we rode down Highway 61 to Winona with Kevin's father Terry. We left behind the skyscrapers and billboards, and under the pink sky of dusk, the river came up huge on our left. Speeding along at 65 mph, we could see a mile across, maybe more. Whoever said this river was ugly? That American commerce had ruined it? Here, it rolled on, blue and still. Trees bent down toward its banks. The sun set into it and it stretched out, beautiful. I sat and watched it through the window, and thought quietly that we are doing a good thing.

Down here though, the river is no longer simple. Above the cities, it was narrow and manageable, and clear as to where it wanted to go. Here, it is more complicated. There are multiple channels, and huge manmade islands clogging up its center. The water is deceptive, with eddy lines and backwaters, and a headwind blew all day at us from several miles away. We saw our first barges today, and went through our first lock. Our maps, which were once so simple, are now cluttered with dots, multi-colored markers, and borders. Even the land itself is cut differently, with Wisconsin now taking up the river's eastern shore.

We too have changed. There are four of us now, and two canoes. There are more packs, more gear, more things to check off our list. The initial excitement of embarking has passed, and the reality of the long summer has begun to set in. At least for me, the weekend in the cities has made me lazy. Today when I picked up my paddle, it gave me blisters and felt odd in my hands.

In many ways, we are again at the outset of our journey. Our "trial run," as Kevin called it, is passed. The entire group is assembled, and we have no more direct relatives awaiting us along our path. Now, there is no safety net. There is only going, only days and days on the river, and New Orleans, 2000 miles away.


Mark said...

Good luck on your journey. I still regret that as a native born Orleanian I lived in first Detroit Lakes and then Fargo and never visited the headwater. It's along, big river, to be careful out there. I plan on following your journey so keep this blog up to date.

JSAX said...

I am reading this from my office in New York City. What a great idea. I wish you the best of luck on your trip!
Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Gabrielle said...

Give'er! That's awesome! :)

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....

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