Friday, September 12, 2008

Kayaking the Missouri River

After leaving Minnesota, we headed west to North Dakota, specifically we were headed to Theodore Roosevelt's National Park on the west side of ND. But along the way, we stopped for several nights at Washburn, ND. We had a great parking spot at the city park, right on the Missouri River. The park sign said we needed a permit (free), but you could only get the permit during work hours, 8-5 and Mon-Fri. We arrived on Saturday. Also at Washburn was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and there they said the police patrolled the park and we really needed the permit. So we were planning on moving on down the road until we went across the road to the gas station. In a casual conversation with the clerk, they were so nice, they contacted the police department for us and let them know we were going to be at the park. So we were not harrassed and yes the police did patrol the area regularly. Only on Sunday afternoon was anyone else using the park.

While there we wanted to visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan. Fort Mandan was a fort, not a military fort, but the fort built for Lewis and Clark to spend one winter, in 1805. When they returned in 1806 the fort had flooded and burned. It has been restored upriver from its original location. The fort was one of the most interesting since it was so small. Built in the shape of an A, it only had 10 rooms, five on each side and a small area in the middle. The interpretive center was very good. It had Lewis and Clark's travels from their beginnings through the end. They even had info on all the people who traveled with them. Quite interesting.

But of course, we also decided to kayak the Missouri River. It was only 9 miles down to a state park. We shuttled cars and then put in our kayaks at the park. It wasn't too bad when we started, a little headwind, and the current on the river is not much at all. There were lots of sandbars and logs in the river, but no problem for us in our kayaks. Until, the wind picked up. As we continued the wind kept getting stronger. Before long if we didn't keep paddling the wind would push up back upstream (later we found out the winds were blowing up to 40 mph). We did find some small rapids, but even there we had to paddle hard to keep from going backwards. At mile 7 we saw the campgrounds for the state park. We pulled out and Max walked the final 2 miles down to the jeep and came back to pickup the kayaks. While on his walk to the jeep he saw waves on the river that were several feet high. We were glad we took out when we did. It was at the visitor's center at the state park where we found out the winds were 40 mph and the park (which usually rents and shuttles kayakers and canoers) wouldn't put anyone on the river that day. But we survived and can now say we have kayaked the Missouri River.

This is where we took out 7 miles down river.

Here is where we put in at Washburn.

Our campsite at the city park on the river.

Inside one of the room at Fort Mandan. Up to 7 people would sleep here.

In front of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Headwaters of the Mississippi

While staying at Fosston, MN, we took a day trip to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We knew to go to Lake Itasca, which was about 35 miles away. Once there we found a pretty lake which has been designated as the place where the Mississippi River starts. Over the years there have been several other locations, but Lake Itasca was finally the where it was placed. At the headwaters the river is very shallow and not very large. We waded across easily. We also took a drive around the wildlife loop and hiked and climbed to the fire tower. What a great view. Here are a few pictures from our trip.

Here is the lodge.

Just to prove I was really there.

Here I am standing in the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

The firetower.

Lake of the Woods

Boy, did I get behind in my updates quickly. I am currently in Jebel, CO, and I have lots to post, but, I will continue with my travels from International Falls. On west towards Lake of the Woods and the Northwest Angle. Trivia Question: Where is the most northerly spot in the continental U.S.? No, it is not Maine or Washington, it is Minnesota, specifically, the Northwest Angle. In fact, to reach this spot of the U.S., you must travel by boat on Lake of the Woods or travel by vehicle through Canada. Yes, you read correctly, Northwest Angle is not connected by land to the rest of the U.S. It consists of a series of islands and a peninsula of Manitoba.

We stayed in Warroad, MN, at a Moose Lodge for 2 nights, visiting Northwest Angle and the local town. Warroad is the home of Marvin Windows and Doors where we went to there museum. Then on to Roseaou, MN, where they had the nicest camping in the city park. Here we stayed while we toured the Polaris factory and museum. We were fascinated and decided to head south 60 miles to Thief River Falls to tour the Artic Cat factory. I personally was more impressed with Polaris. Below are a few pictures of our travels. Notice the first picture. Going into and out of Northwest Angle they don't even have manned customs, instead you phone in with a video phone (I didn't know they really existed).

Where we called to clear customs.

Here I am leaving Manitoba entering Northwest Angle.