October 5, 2011 – Day 27 – 27 miles

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The Mississippi River Diet

October 4, 2011 – Day 26 – 21 miles

As I pulled into Wabasha I was greeted by a woman who wanted to know if I camped on Lake Peppin last night.  As it turns out she had visited her chiropractor and he told her about a paddler who camped on his beach last night.  It surely is a small world.  I am flattered, but it’s odd that news can travel faster than I can even though I spend all day paddling.

I was curious and kept track of my fuel intake for the day.  I consumed around 6800 calories today.

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Lake Peppin

October 3, 2011 – Day 25 – 26 miles

Passing barges is quite common place now.  Thankfully, these ships are slow enough , and the river wide enough that I never have a problem seeing them and getting out of their way.  The Army Corps of Engineers dug a nine-foot channel in the river that is well marked with color coded buoys.  I stay out of this channel whenever possible, but use it to navigate down the river.  At the beginning of Lake Peppin the channel markers followed the shore of a circular body of water.  I figured I could save time by taking a more direct route to the outlet that led me straight through the center of this open body of water.  I hit a sandbar midway across and got to experience standing in ankle deep water a mile from the closest shore.

As the sun set I entered the largest part of Lake Peppin and couldn’t find a good place too camp for the night.  Right as darkness approached a nice couple suggested that I camp on their beach for the night as the rest of the shore was steep and rocky.  Thanks to the kindness of Leroy and Pat I have a flat sandy spot in which to lay my head for the night.  The universe provides!

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October 2, 2011 – Day 24 – 21.5 miles

Morning on the eastern side of an island is just too nice to leave in a hurry.  As the sun rose I drank three cups of tea and watched the barges pass.  By mid-morning I was on the water and hoping to make it to Hastings to find more food.  A mile from a lock I could see a barge a ways behind me.  This motivated me to paddle harder as I did not want to wait for the barge to go through the lock.  I raced, and beat the barge too the lock only to find another one right infront of me.  I looked for a portage but everything was fenced off and I couldn’t find a way around.  Slow down Ryan.

In Hastings I found a grocery store, and even better, a used bookstore that was open on Sunday.  It was the most marvelous of bookstores – dark, quiet, and overflowing with books.  From stacks on the floor to shelves nine feet high, books were everywhere.  Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that I named three titles and the owner found all of them within three minutes. 

Moreso than deep water, barges, snakes, barges, or freezing tempertures I have found the most dangerous part of my trip: recreational boaters who feel the need to try to impress others with speed.

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Lazy Afternoon

October 1, 2011 – Day 23 – 14.5 miles

Strong headwinds and two interviews made for a relatively short day.  I met two television stations at the Twin Cities Marina where I had my first ever cheese curds.  I knew that it would be a bad investment in calories and muscular stamina to paddle the large waters of Spring Lake in such winds.  I stopped on an island right before the river started to widen and enjoy many hours of daylight on it’s sandy shore.  Today is Saturday and their was a lot of boat traffic that continued on into the night.  Regardless of the traffic, I’ll be here.  It’s always a Saturday on the river to me.

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One Mile at a Time

September 30, 2011 – Day 22 – 8.5 miles

I awoke early and parted ways with my host to explore more of this grand city.  I spent hours aimlessly walking Minneapolis and taking in all that it had to show me.  Much like my time on the canoe, walking gives me a chance to travel slowly and be more connected to my surroundings.  It wasn’t until late afternoon that I finally started paddling again.  This made for a short day on the river where I enjoyed the still natural areas inbetween the Twin Cities.

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Into the Manmade

September 29, 2011 – Day 21 – 35 miles

I literally surfed the waves into Minneapolis today as the wind was at my back all morning.  In some parts of the river I could paddle hard and ride the crest of a wave for 10-15 yards before slipping off it’s backend, only to catch another one.  I rarely have mileage goals, but I knew I had to make it 35 miles to where I was Couchsurfing for the night.  Thanks to the tailwind I was able to reach the city by 5pm.

It was odd to come into the city by the same river where I experienced such solitude and quiet.  Massive devices of industry overhung the river and reared their heads high above the river.  As a result of seeing the images of these smokestacks, bulldozers, and a conveyor belt which dumped scrap metal higher and higher I was continually reminded of Dr. Suess’s The Lorax.

Lucy was an excellent host and I was fascinated by her stories of living abroad.  After a wonderful dinner we rode bikes through Minneapolis, one of the most bike friendly cities in the US.  We passed scores of cyclists as my host took me on a grand tour of the city. Lucy was able to tell me all about the neighborhoods, buildings, parks, and their respective histories.  Our bike ride lasted the better part of two hours as we cruised through everywhere from the bright bustling streets of uptown to the quiet dark paths of neighborhood parks.  This is my idea of a night on the town.

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