So far this trip has been hard. Back-breakingly, joint-shreddingly hard. Today was maybe the hardest day yet. At least for me. Dave seems fine. Today it took from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cross Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota’s 4th-largest inland lake.
But there were bright spots before today.
The very beginning of the trip was lovely. Both sets of parents, Dave’s brother Eric, sister in law Allison, and friends Dana and Jay came to Itasca to see us off and sip some champagne as we push off in Lake Itasca.
Then things got rough.
We’re currently in a motel room in Bemidji, about eight miles behind schedule. The first days have been harder than expected and have given us little time for playing music, lounging on our hammocks or blogging. We’ll have a longer post on these first few days as soon as we can catch our breath. And dry our clothes. Long story.
Well, here we are. To the cheers (and silent misgivings?) of parents, family and friends, we finally launched our canoe at the source of the Father of Waters. Only about 2,200 miles of paddling to go. Our parents were nice enough to drive us to Itasca State Park and camp with us last night before we left. Dave’s brother and sister-in-law and some of our friends from Minneapolis came along to see us off as well.
We really should say how we couldn’t have even begun this trip without the help of a lot of people, but primarily our parents. Dave’s parents essentially allowed us to turn their house into a gear storage facility and both sets of parents hosted, chauffeured and lent us their cars as we bounced around the Twin Cities acquiring equipment and getting everything ready to go.
From here until Minneapolis we’ll have the luxury of a barge-free river and nice campsites maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The river will be fairly narrow and won’t be much like the Mississippi as people know it, which hopefully will give us time to get into the swing of things. Because it’s fairly isolated here, cell phone reception may be spotty so we’ll post again when we have the chance. Ever forward!
AMURRICA! (And Minnesota and New York.)
Yesterday we found out whether we could actually fit all this stuff in a canoe. The answer was no. (Back to REI with you, Camp Time Roll-A-Table.) Yesterday we spent about 6 hours shopping, shoving things into dry bags and carrying backpacks upstairs and downstairs and back up again. Today we spent 10 hours registering a canoe, going to REI (twice, technically) and the hardware store, figuring out how to use all this gear, and shoving things into dry bags again.
We’ve spent more time than I want to admit putting together this list of songs about, pertaining to, or by people heavily associated with the river or river towns. As the regions the river runs through include the birthplaces of the blues, country, jazz, rock and roll and soul there’s a lot to cover. Listen to the playlist on Spotify and let us know what we’re missing.
- Highway ’61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan was born and raised in northern Minnesota and is our #1 or #2 musical export, depending on who you ask. Highway 61 more or less follows the Mississippi for nearly its entire length. Dylan had interesting things to say about it, too.
- Minneapolis Polka – Dick Rodgers
Look, a song about our hometown!
- Uptown – Prince
Prince is our #1 or #2 musical export, depending on who you ask. Uptown is Uptown Minneapolis, where you can “set your mind free.”
- Purple Rain – Prince
Purple Rain (the film) was shot and took place in Minneapolis and this jam was mostly recorded live at Minneapolis venue First Avenue.