The end of one journey – the beginning of another. This set of Mystery Friday Photos was shot in one of my favorite spots on the planet. The Mystery I’m asking you to solve first will lead you to the correct location. Where do these three photos appear on this Blog site? When you find them, you’ll know where this lovely little spot is – and heck, you can go there yourself.
Okay, about this End and Beginning thing. If you’re visiting for the first time, I’ve been having a blast writing about the colorful history of a famous canoe trail that’s been in use for 8,000 years and more. Most of the “posts” have been about Native American and early Euro-American exploration and trade/settlement. Some have been about environmental issues and others’ about equipment and planning for my trip. It’s the end of the “writing about it” and the beginning of the “paddling of it.” Of course, I have no idea how that’s going to end and once we ( Jingles will be paddling with me on Day I) shove off, the trip will proceed until it doesn’t. I hope that “doesn’t” is a successful landing in the lovely town of La Pointe on Madeline Island. Wait, here’s the third, second actual, image for this week’s Mystery Photo Friday contest.
I’ll be off the computer and trying my hand at posting from an I-Phone while on route. The application is neither as sophisticated nor as reliable as the one I’m currently using, but please tune in for several posts each week with some text and photos and see what you think. I’ll be taking along a trusty pencil and paper just in case.
I want to take a moment here and say thanks. Many caring, experienced and skilled people, old friends and new, have helped prod, shove, hold its hand, and carry this plan forward. My wife listened first, asked a few questions, and the decision was made. What a champ. She’s made the plan come together with moral support, photo-taking, equipment prep – you name it. Two world-class paddlers, Bill S. and Leo M. shared their experience with the route – invaluable. Thanks to Gabe S., a class act with a fly rod and a whitewater canoe to name just two of his many talents. Tech experts, Jingles and Craig J., got the blog up and going. Chris V. and Carol C. each provided their expertise on environmental water issues and sewing a canoe sail, respectively. Our children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws, outlaws, grand-parents have been curious and steadfast, supporters. Chief Medical Officer Ellen E. and Map Guru Jim E. have always been available night and day, generously providing assistance. Tracy F. has contributed encouragement and a Bear/Raccoon/Crawdad/Crazed, but non-to-mechanical, stranger-proof Food Container.
To the Mystery Photo Friday Contest entrants and all the readers who’ve sent their comments and ideas, asked questions, or just followed the posts, thanks. Gear gurus in the “Equipment Links” helped me make those decisions about the stuff that’s going along. A particular thanks to Dan Cooke of Cooke Custom Sewing. His spray deck and pack are quality, Minnesota-made gear that will keep me and my stuff dry and comfy. And thanks to Byron K. at the National Park Service for facilitating travel plans on the St. Croix. Gary P., James M. and Dale W. are the victualers for the launch and the lunch (early) on Sunday – much appreciated. And to all my other family and friends who’ve been funny and fun conversants on all things “trip” and otherwise, thank you all.
Ted and I Love This Place
The destination is Madeline Island. I’ve spent many hours walking the beach at Big Bay, cooking over a fire at the Municipal Campground, visiting the Museum in town, tossing back a few at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe and walking carefully along the path at the old cemetery. A big Northern once struck the Daredevil at the canoe’s side and in one leap, quite angrily and justifiably so, flopped in to the canoe – and the fight was on. My daughter Liz, landed her first fish there too, in the poetic estuary off Big Bay where the cold, clear water flows in and later, the warmer, tannin stained water flows back out. I’ve leaned over the gunnels of the canoe along the edges of bristly hummocks where wild roses bloom. And I breathed in their perfume; and paddling there, later that summer, held rose hips between my fingers, not wanting to let go of them or the season’s shortening days.
Ted Y. loves this place too. A friend and artist, he spent a year and more (that includes some really cold weather too) on the Island. He has the artist’s appreciation of place, of one who works on site, observes carefully, sees what he wants to convey and captures that image with brush and canvas. Before Ted and I, let me see, generations of Euro-Americans and before them a century or three of Anishinabe painted this landscape with their lives and stories – and still do. Sometime this summer find and read Louise Erdrich’s, The Birchbark House . You won’t regret it. It’s a fine tale of Native American life on Madeline around the time of early contact with traders. While I’m at it here, Holling C. Holling’s, Paddle-to-the-Sea and Minn of the Mississippi are classics worth reading and sharing with the young ones in your life. Here’s a clip from an adaptation of that first book. Reminds me a little of a fuzzy haired, chrome domed, elderly gent who has a similar journey in mind.
Mystery Photo Friday #11 – The Winner
There were two correct entrants this week – or at least correct enough – in the confusing Trifecta of Mystery sites. The winner this week is…Mary W. of St. Paul. Congrats! She and Chad identified Crosby Farm and the road down to the Marina as site #1. I also slipped in two other sites. The path to the Minnesota River, where we actually will launch, is near the historic Sibley house in Mendota and was also in the contest. The third site was the entrance to Fort Snelling State Park with the “officers’ club” sign as the clue. Again, thanks to all our players.
Hey, I’m Plum Out of Time
I’m leaving this rather fractured narrative here and getting about the business of final packing. Thanks for paddling along here with me and I hope you check in over the next month for some live action reports from the trail. Best to all, Corey