Sunday, October 6, 2013

River Rumble '13 - Day 1

Saturday would be our day to relax before pushing off down the river Sunday morning. We took a ride back down to the St. Croix to check out the put-in where we would all meet the next morning. I was a bit concerned when I looked down river, and all I could see were row upon row of rocks crossing the river. They looked almost like teeth, and I wasn’t looking forward to having the bottom of my canoe chewed on.

We next located the fairgrounds where we would all gather for dinner that evening, and then took a ride four miles east of Grantsburg to the Burnett Dairy Co-op. It was founded in 1896, and is still a huge cheese producer. I found it fascinating to learn that Wisconsin became noted for its cheese because of the lack of refrigeration at that time. Since the milk coming from the many dairy farms could not be cooled to keep it from spoiling, what couldn’t be sold as milk would be made into cheese to keep it from going to waste. The Burnett Dairy is a must-see attraction. The shop is nearly the size of a basketball court, and two walls are made up of coolers containing hundreds of different cheeses. If it’s possible for something to be made into a cheese, it’s there. Of course, what’s cheese without a good bottle of wine? There are many to choose from. Needless to say, they also have a big ice-cream parlor, and also a deli.

It rained all day and evening, and some found shelter by pitching
their tents in the livestock pens at the fairgrounds.
Most of those participating in the Great River Rumble 2013 would gather at Red Wing, MN, which was our destination. By late this afternoon, they would all be transported by charter buses to Grantsburg after leaving their cars in Red Wing. All the canoes and kayaks would be shuttled primarily by Wenonah Canoe, the event's major sponsor, but a few outfitters also joined in to get all the boats moved in one pass. In all, there would be about a hundred boats participating. By last count, there were190 paddlers, some using their own boats, and some using boats rented from Wenonah and Current Designs. All of their paddling and camping gear was moved by two U-Haul trucks that would continue to perform that task all week.

Since the barn was a maze of activity with both trucks being unloaded
there, some preferred its greater protection for their tents.
After checking in, helping to get the trucks unloaded, and having dinner, the group was entertained by Jerry Vandiver and three other musicians he had arranged to have join him. Jerry would also be joining us for several days on the river. If you aren’t familiar with his music, he is a musician and song writer that has had many of his compositions performed by major recording artists. Besides his normal fare, he also does a number of works specifically for the paddler that will make you smile, laugh, and sing along.

Jerry Vandiver, center, in tan jacket and cap.
At this link you can hear pieces of a number of Jerry’s songs. Be sure to listen to Headwind. Truer words were never uttered, and it’s my #2 favorite.

If you enjoy paddling and have a doggy-friend, you have to watch and listen to Me and Molly, my most favorite.

We were captivated by the greens of Wisconsin. Of course, it’s green because it gets a lot of that stuff we almost never get in Oklahoma---rain. It would continue raining Saturday evening, and Sunday, but then the weather for the rest of the week would be dazzlingly beautiful. To get out of the rain Saturday night, however, many people pitched their tents in the fairground’s barn, others set up camp in the livestock pens, and still more, the hardcore purists, sat out in the rain. Perhaps the constant drum roll against the tent’s nylon shell helped to lull them to sleep.

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