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Mississippi Headwaters - Akeley, then a Big, Wet Hole in the Ground

Wednesday, August 15     to Woodtick in Akeley     17mi     FREE

I removed the last tent peg and a gust of wind sent the tent toward the edge of the cliff. I couldn't run fast enough to catch it. Fortunately, two tall evergreen trees had been planted in just the right place

to prevent it from going down there:

The only other camper called out "Haven't you got any stakes to hold it down?"
I responded "No, I'm a vegetarian".

The now familiar Heartland Trail took me to Akeley. Rain was on the way. I took Mike's offer to set up my tent behind the Woodtick Theater.

This fellow was at the Clark gas station / convenience store next door. He had a skateboard powered with a gas engine - and it had cruise control. He had gotten it up to 35mph, but just once, and it was scary.

The show at the Woodtick Theater ran from 8-10pm, and also included a 45-minute pre-show.

Paul Nye plays keyboard, guitar, and harmonica, and sings as well. He described himself as "someone who lives in a green house with a purple door, with a dog and a cat, and a wife with a real job. Life is so sweet." Yes, his is the "Bike Guy" that helped me get re-tired a few days ago.

One of the ladies in the cast told us about what was happening with her.

She started walking for exercise yesterday; so far, she has only missed one day.

She tried the weight loss patch, and said it tastes hideous.

"Remember there is always something to be thankful for. If you can't pay your bills, be thankful you are not one of your creditors."

The cast sang "Grandma's Hog". It is about an 85 year old woman, dressed in leathers, and her 800 pound
Harley-Davidson Super Glide motorcycle. The refrain goes something like:
"If your thinking about bacon, you're sadly mistaken; she got a riding Hog".

Then there was "Ghost Chicken in the Sky", sung like "Ghost Rider in the Sky", about getting revenge on
Colonel Sanders.

Paul Bunyan's keyboard was hanging on the wall.

Paul was down the street, waiting for his hand to be refurbished. I guess a person who sat in his hand for a picture exceeded its design weight.

The senior citizen price was $15.50. A heck-of-a-deal considering the campground I didn't need charged $24.50.

Thursday, August 16 to Itaska $33.50 45mi

My breakfast was at Akeley's Headwaters Restaurant where I had 2 huge, cover-the-plate pancakes.
No, I didn't finish it all. I did learn to keep the syrup from running off the plate I needed to dig a syrup hole in the middle and and eat from the inside out.

Winds were from the northwest for whole the whole day. I started by heading west on the Heartland Trail. As I headed north from Park Rapids via US-71 on its 5' shoulder,

I noticed this friendly sign.

Earlier this week, when I made my reservation for 2 days at Itasca State Park, there wasn't any site open for both days, so they gave me a different site for each day. Once I checked in, and before I set up camp, I visited the folks on my day-2 site. I wanted to plan my layover day around their checkout time. When I explained that to Marie and her husband, they offered me a corner of their site so I wouldn't have to set up twice. I quickly accepted.

The couple's two young grandsons were interested in learning how a tent was set up, so I let them help. As I was about to anchor the tent, I discovered some bent stakes. I told the boys that each campsite was supplied with a tent stake straightener. They said they hadn't seen anything like that as we walked over to the picnic table. I showed them that by placing a bent stake between the table top boards, I could pull a stake straight where it was bent. I pointed out that this probably should not be tried on a brand new table, but I hadn't seen one of those in a very long time.

Friday, August 17     Itasca sleepover     11mi     $33.50

I decided to take the shorter of two mostly-paved bike trails they offered. I stopped a couple of places on my way to "The Start Of The Mississippi River".

The first was Itasca Sports, a boat and bike rental place on the edge of Lake Itasca.

They had an option to rent a boat for 3 hours. As I stood there, a man approached the counter and said he wanted to do just that. Said his name was Grilliam. And Lake Itasca DOES have an island. Close enough for a chuckle.

At the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center cafeteria, I satisfied my hankering for some pumpkin pie, but not my appetite. So, I followed the pie with a turkey sandwich and a 3 Musketeers candy bar. Ahhh.

Lake Itasca has a small rock dam, and water from that spills into a stream deemed to be the start of the Mississippi. People could walk from one side to the other on the rocks. I decided not to, thinking about the slippery rocks and the cleats on the bottom of my biking sandals.

About twenty feet "downstream" was a bark-free, flattop log that others were using to "cross the Mississippi".
It was an act I didn't think I could follow.

After the park had been established, it was determined that nearby Mary Lake fed into Lake Itasca, underground. As I presume that walking across an underground stream would be kinda boring, and changing the facilities at the park would be expensive, they apparently decided not to mess with a good thing. Besides, if you want to be completely accurate, you can hike to Mary Lake and take a picture of the ground under which the water flows. Doh!

It's all quite arbitrary, you know. What if the guy in charge of river naming, when he came to where the Missouri and Mississippi split, had decided that the branch going left would be deemed the Mississippi, and that the branch going right would be the Minnesota?

For dinner, I rode to Douglas Lodge and had what was probably my most expensive meal on the trip. It was a Rueben sandwich and a chocolate malted for ONLY $18.

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