Chief Red Wing
Buddy and I paddling down the Mississippi River.
Photo credit: Maryellen Self
After the 8-ft. drop in Lock #3 (see the wet area on the walls), the
lower gates opened to allow us to continue down the Mississippi.
Photo credit: Maryellen Self. The time stamp is off. The date was
Sat. 3 August. 13
The start down the Mississippi was like a picture out of Huckleberry Finn---quiet and peaceful, a mist rising off the water, and just a couple fishermen allowing their boats to drift with the gentle flow of the current. However, this was a Saturday, and powerboats began rolling into the river from this recreational-boating hub. As the day got warmer, the wakes became larger, but everyone seemed to take them in stride.
The most anticipated event of the day for most of our party would be locking through Lock and Dam #3 near the Prairie Island Indian Reservation. We had to wait for a large flotilla of powerboats to empty out of the lock, but when the signal turned green, we all paddled our way into the lock. The roughly 100 canoeists and kayakers divided and made their way down both sidewalls of the lock until they grabbed lines hanging from the top of the lock. Although the huge lock was made to accommodate large rafts of barges, we managed to cover its full length, rafted at least two-deep. After the gates closed, we slowly dropped eight feet before the lower gates opened to flush us back into the river.
Just for fun, see if you can detect a theme here. Prairie Island was chosen as a reservation for the Dakota Sioux in 1889. Then, “much of the reservation land was lost following the construction of Lock and Dam #3 along the river by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.” Then it was decided that some the remaining reservation lands would be a great place to build the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant. Then it was decided that reservation lands would be a great place to store radioactive nuclear waste in above-ground steel casks.
We paddled past the festival on the Red Wing waterfront, where hundreds of folks watched and waved. Then we passing under the Hwy. 63 bridge, which connects Red Wing with Wisconsin and a direct route to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Another mile further down the river brought us to Colvill Park, where we would take out and load our craft onto our vehicles. Then it was a race to find a place to take a shower and get ready for the farewell banquet to be held at the St. James Hotel.
Lobby of the St. James Hotel
While I was paddling down the river, Jean had been staying in our RV and enjoyed the hospitality of Grantsburg, WI. She drove down to meet me, and was waving from the bank when I pulled in. The staff at the park pool building were gracious enough to allow a few of us to shower and change there, and then it was off to the hotel. Since we had a two-hour drive back to our RV in Grantsburg, we left at 8:45, shortly after dinner concluded. As soon as we got back to the RV, we dropped into bed exhausted. In fact, we would remain there at the James McNully campground an extra day for rest and relaxation before making the 900-mile run back home.