We made it to Minnesota! A two plus day road trip of 1,150 miles my wife, Lijun and I made just to get to the starting point of the adventure, St Paul Minnesota. I shouldn’t complain to loud about it because I caught the Pennsylvania Turnpike just five miles from my home then drove it across the state and joined the Ohio Turnpike clear across that state to the Indiana Turn pike then Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I could do the whole way without ever stopping if I wanted except for gas, to pee and coffee and each rest stop has a Starbucks so not bad. It really is a fantastic road system except for the little part at Chicago. I’m driving my little Ford ranger, towing my little boat, past Chicago at two o’clock on Friday afternoon on Labor Day weekend, aggressive city drivers included. I feared someone was going to smash the boat before I every got to the start. I drove looking in the rear view mirror the whole way.
We reached Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul just below Lock and Dam no 1 on the Mississippi on Sept 1. This is the furthest north I could launch my boat on the navigable part of the river. It is dammed at Minneapolis with no lock.
The water level is really low and I back the boat down a long ramp and the boat slides into the water. Whew! Lijun pulls the boat over to a beach while I park the car. I’m back in a couple of minutes and already I see a big bearded man chatting her up excitedly. I was gone for two minutes! He’s friendly and talkative and saying something about soap but I’m trying to load up, pack it and not forget anything. He never asks up what we are up to though we are clearly up to something. I finally tell him but he ignores me and keeps talking. Well I guess rowing a boat to the gulf of Mexico isn’t as exciting as I made it out in my head.
Finally we shove off and try to row upstream a little to the dam but no way. The current doesn’t seem to strong but I struggle against it and turn around and head south. We float slowly and smoothly and get a feel of the loaded boat. Speeding pleasure boats go by leaving a wake and we test the boats abilities in the wave. Bobs like a duck.
We only go a mile and a half in river miles to the Watergate Marina where we will keep the boat overnight. I still have to store the truck and trailer and get supplies.
So tomorrow we will get underway and start this voyage proper.