Humble Beginnings Blues
CHASING THE BLUES, CHAPTER 23: Bemidji, MN, to Duluth, MN
Rain began to fall during the night and continued to threaten with soggy clouds hanging low as we left the Doubletree this morning. Bemidji is a cool little town (pop. 13,431) with a funky vibe. Like Sheridan, Wyoming, many—if not most—street corners boast sculptures. Because of Lake Bemidji, the town attracts lots of tourists, but it doesn’t seem to have the artificial and profit-seeking ambiance of a typical tourist town like Gatlinburg or Bar Harbor. Public buildings incorporate interesting architecture, and even the cheesy highlights like the Paul Bunyan and Babe figures (c. 1937) at the visitor center feel more sentimental than commercial.
|The river shrinks as we near its source.|
|Center still closed for the winter season.|
On our approach to the park this morning—and all through the state as we’ve followed the GRR—we’ve watched the river become narrower and shallower. “Mississippi Headwaters | 800 feet” a sign at the visitor center promised. Sure enough, after we crossed the river one more time—on a footbridge this time—we reached the shore of Lake Itasca and the spot where a little stream flows out of the lake to grow into a mighty river. What a lesson in the possibilities of those with humble beginnings!
|Where the Big Muddy begins|
Rain followed us half-heartedly part way to the park and then left us alone as we explored. Its friend, Cold, however, stayed with us. The temp as we left the hotel was 39°, warming up to a damp 42° by the time we reached the park. As we drove back east, skies were still overcast but the clouds were a bit higher.
When we returned to Bemidji, we wanted to have lunch at the wonderful Tutto Bene, where we ate last night, but their sign indicated they are closed on Sunday and Monday this time of year. We settled for the salad bar at a local grocery store, filled up with gas, and departed on the Great River Road east, listening to the Bluesville station on XM Radio.
|Foggy rain or rainy fog?|
- Miles driven: 261
- Weather: rain, fog, cold, 36° to 44°
- Crossings of the Mississippi River: 19 by car, 4 on foot
- Grazing deer: 11
- Visitors at Mississippi Headwaters trail: 2
More Photos from Today
|Footbridge over the Mississippi River. Hiking stick is touching bottom.|
|Where the Mississippi River leaves Lake Itasca|
|Shallow enough to wade across the river, if only it weren't so cold!|