Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
We have passed the milestone of 50 virtual crew members aboard Still Waters II. You might have to scoot over some to make room for: Susana S., blgOtaylor, Iayla R., Karl. Welcome Aboard, and enjoy the ride as we head down the mighty Mississippi River.
The Stone Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge completed in 1883. The bridge is now used as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The bridge also now marks the end of navigation on the Mississippi River. The river starts another 541 miles north at Lake Itasca, but the navigable waters start here at the Stone Arch Bridge.
For those demanding term limits for Washington Politicians, Mark Twain said it best.
The crew had a good week of cruising, though it was much colder than they would have normally cruise in. They left La Crosse on Monday and made way to Winona (1). Their next stop was in a small town named Alma (2) on Tuesday. Then Wednesday, it was on to Red Wing (3). Thursday, the crew made it to St. Paul (4) where they stayed at the Watergate Marina. Friday, the crew went another 15 miles upstream to the end of navigation (5) on the Mississippi River. The crew returned to the Watergate Marina and then took a bus ride to the Mall of America to celebrate. Because of the cool weather, the crew decided to head south in search of warmer temps and stopped back in at Red Wing (6) for the weekend.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she reaches the end of navigation on the Mississippi River, turns around, and then starts the down bound journey to New Orleans. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse with the highs in the 40’s and the lows in the 30’s. Also, there has been heavy cloud cover with cool rain forecast for all week. Based on these sudden changes, the crew has started talking about making it to St Paul and then turn around and begin the southward journey.
The crew waited to leave late on Monday to allow the rain to pass. The crew then set out for the days run. They had hoped to land on the courtesy dock in Winona, but the dock had already been removed for the season. They found a dock at the north end of town and landed for the night.
Mile 710, low clouds make for an interesting view. Reminds the crew of the Smokey Mountains.
Mile 714, Saw this guy paddle out of Lock 6 in the rain with his dog. He is the 5th paddler the crew has met hoping to make the Gulf.
After not seeing a single Bald Eagle all day yesterday, the crew saw a record 18 today. The crew continued in the rainy cold weather, but managed two Locks with no rain. The crew stopped in a small town, Alma, where they stayed on the town rolly, shaky, courtesy dock.
Mile 730, Do you see the white pelicans or a creepy monster looking over the sand dune?
Mile 760, Wabasha
Mile 760, National Eagle Center, crew plans to stop here on the way south
Mile 770, Lake Pepin
Lake Pepin happens to be the location where water skiing was invented. The young inventor was Ralph Samuelson, and he used a pair of barrel staves for skis and clothesline for a towrope back in 1922. He was already an accomplished at aquaplaning, standing on a board while being towed. He wanted to create snow skiing on water, so he had his brother tow him while he learned to water ski on his home made skies. He would strap the skies on and stand on the aquaplane. He would then step off the aquaplane and try to maintain his balance on one ski. Then completely step off the board with both skies in the water. It took him a week to perfect his skill, but he is credited with being the first water skier.
After a good cruise up Lake Pepin to Red Wing and landing at the Ole Miss Marina, the crew took off on foot to find the world’s largest boot at the Red Wing Boot Factory.
On the way back to the boat they stopped at the local grocery store to pick up a few provisions. Cokes were on sale, 3 12 packs for $11. The skipper decided he would go back to the boat, get his backpack, and walk back to the store to score the cokes. With the Admiral back on the boat, the skipper headed back to the store.
Pollinator Park in Red Wing
While he was checking out a sudden storm blew in and was dumping bucket loads of water. The winds were clocked at 50 mph and the wind was not falling but just blowing sideways. The skipper waited about 10 minutes, and the storm stopped just as suddenly as it started. He checked his weather radar and the sustained winds were down to 25 mph with gusts to 50. He walked the mile back to the boat. When he returned to the boat, he found both the Admiral and the boat in good condition. A good reminder to always tie the boat up good for the weather you might get, not the weather you have. Unfortunately, the wind blew hard until midnight, and did not really calm down until the next morning. Such is life on a boat.
And yes, the crew found the world’s largest boot
World’s Largest Boot Facts
The crew decided to make a long day out of it and go all the way to St Paul today. But first they had to wait until 1000 to allow the temperatures to get above 40 degrees before shoving off. Not much fun cruising in cloudy, wet, and cold weather all day.
The highlight of the day though was a conversation they had with one of the lock tenders at Lock 2, Tugboat. He volunteers to go on hurricane relief trips with the Corps of Engineers. He told a couple of shocking and horrific stories about his trip down to Houston for Hurricane Harvey relief.
One story had to do with a Vietnam Vet that they came across in his flooded home in Houston. The Vet had lost his legs in Vietnam. He lost his wife during the storm to a heart attack. His dog had also died during the storm, and was still laying beside him with a bit of a bad smell to him. The Vet said he had no idea how to go on with his life and was just going to sit there till he died. Tugboat helped find a VA facility to move the Vet into where he could get the help he needed.
It is great Americans like Tugboat who make the crew proud to be Americans.
The skipper asked him how he got the name tugboat. He answered and said that his mother always introduced him as Tugboat and never called him by his birth name. The nickname stuck and now he is Tugboat.
After getting out of Lock 2, it would be another 5 hours before the crew got to the Watergate Marina in St Paul. They arrived just at sunset and had to fight off these pirates guarding the marina entrance though. The skipper tossed them a bottle of Bahama Rum and the Pirates quickly gave up the fight to warm their bones with the rum.
This turned out to be one of the best days on the boat since the crew started back in June 2015. The plan was to take a short day cruise up to the end of navigation on the Mississippi River and return to the marina.
It took about 1.5 hours to get from the marina to Lock 1 in Minneapolis. The river is lined with parks for the whole 8 miles. After getting stepped up 38 feet in the Lock, they were greeted by some of the best fall color that they have seen anywhere. The trees were yellow, burnt orange, and vibrant reds.
After passing thru the Lower Anthony Lock they only had 0.3 miles to go to reach the end of navigation at the upper Anthony Lock. The upper lock is now permanently closed, so the crew took a few pics and turned around and headed back to the marina.
Iconic Stone Arch Bridge with Anthony Falls in the background, end of navigation
The crew returned to the marina about 1430, so they decided to walk a mile up the road and catch a bus to the Mall of America. The Mall actually sits where the old baseball stadium used to be in the days of Harmon Killebrew. The skipper is familiar with the ‘Hammerin Harmon’ because he was one of the skipper’s dad’s favorite players.
Killebrew was a power hitter deluxe. He hit the longest homerun at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium, a 520 foot shot that broke a red seat in the outfield stands. They retired the seat, and no fan ever sat in it after that blast. He also holds the record at the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium for the longest homerun with a 471 foot shot. He was also the first of four batters to hit a ball over the left field roof at Detroit Tigers Stadium.
Inside the Mall, they actually have a replica of the red seat hanging on a wall in the approximate position it would have been in the stadium. Then 520 feet away, there is a home plate in the floor.
The crew topped the day off by ‘Flying Over America.’ This is a ride inside the Mall where you soar about in an IMax style theatre over some of America’s most iconic sites. It was a great way to end a great day.
The crew decided to start south in search of warmer weather rather than sit in St Paul for the weekend. The forecast for the next week does not look promising, but the further south the crew can get the better.
With that strategy in mind, the crew again waited for the weather to warm up a bit before taking off. The good news is that with the current in their favor, the crew was making about 10 mph running downstream. The 53 miles took 9 hours on the way north, but the crew made it in 6.5 hours on the way south.
Interesting yellow tree with red trunk
The cooling towers at the Prairie Island Nuc Plant
The weather will be cold and rainy for the next week. The skipper is not sure how far south they will actually get, but will play it day-by-day depending on the weather. For example Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be rain days with storms. If that turns out to be true they may stay in Red Wing for a few more days. If they can safely travel, they will shove off and try to make about 60 miles each travel day.