Biking to the headwaters, meeting protesters, and rediscovering the joy of a well-made open-faced sandwich

It only took us two years of living in Minnesota, but we finally made it to the headwaters of the Mississippi.

This is Itasca State Park, a lovely place about two hours from us and yet it took us two years to get here?! (I know. We’re awful.)

In answer to your question, no, I didn’t wade across the Mississippi. Didn’t even think of it, to tell the truth. We took a short footbridge across though, that was fun. We stopped midway so Husband could film a short intro for next Sunday’s online worship service.

It was funny seeing how fast people scurried away when they heard him saying vaguely religious words, leaving us alone on the bridge. (You might use that trick yourself, should you find the need to get away from crowds.)

There weren’t that many people around, but we were surprised by how many there were given it was a Monday and there’s that pandemic thing going on? But everyone was good about keeping their distance even before Husband did his preacher-bit.

Speaking of which, how great is this?

Forgot to mention, we were on our bikes. Neighbor Buddy and his wife, Wanda, told us the bike path around Itasca Lake was perfect. “Only 17 miles all the way around,” they said.

We didn’t feel quite up to that, so we took the 5-mile path to the headwaters.

Truthfully, even that was 4.5 miles more than I usually ride, plus there was the trip back to the car. And though Buddy and Wanda assured us the path was flat… well, their definition of flat must be different than ours.

Fortunately we saw several people pushing their bike on the way back, so I didn’t feel too bad joining them. Also, true to his Enneagram-9, Winnie-the-Pooh self, Husband offered to switch bikes on the way back, “so you’ll get a feel for how a good bike rides.”

Yeah. He’s been trying to talk me into getting a new bike. I don’t know why, being how mine is only 50-years old and has three speeds. (Two of which work most of the time, low and less low.)

Okay, so his bike made the trek much easier. I still love my bicycle, but maybe saving up for a newer one makes sense for when our trips are longer than a half mile.

From there we went to Bemidji and saw Paul and Babe.

Side note: Paul’s face had the most impressive spider web on it…

I figure that must be one determined spider to travel up that high. I don’t what kind she is, but I admire her spunk.

Speaking of spunk, there was a group of women protesting in the park. I asked if I could take their picture and assured them they would be shown in a positive light.

Their group is called “Knitting for Justice.” Every day from 2-4, they gather in front of Paul and Babe and knit. When they heard I have a blog, they gave me a card to further their message. So here’s their message:

We believe BIPOC lives Matter. We believe LGBTQ Lives Matter. We know that systems are broken, our planet is hurting, and this needs to change! We welcome you to join us any day to sit and knit (or bead or color or chat or meditate or whatever grounds you). Welcome.

If you can’t make it to Bemidji and you knit or crochet, they invite you to join them in making 6×6-inch squares in any kind of yarn. Send them to: Kirkpatrick, PO Box 3073, Bemidji, MN, 56619, and the squares will be sown together into blankets for the homeless.

On our way home we stopped in a small town called Park Rapids, which has a lovely downtown area with cute shops. We had dinner at a place called The Good Life. I ordered their smørrebrød.

Smørrebrød is the Danish name for open-faced sandwich. And though I grew up eating open-faced sandwiches and am quite fond of them, it wasn’t until I was much older that I found out they were a thing with Scandinavians? Norwegians eat them, Swedes eat them, Danes make an art-form of them. (As Danes are wont to do.)

It’s just a better way to enjoy your meal, I think. If you’re gonna make a beautiful sandwich, why cover it up with an extra slice of bread? Instead, use a fork and enjoy every bite of it. (Of course, that’s just one Norwegian’s opinion.)

And thus ended our day trip to the Headwaters. We saw a pretty lake, met good people, ate a fine sandwich and had the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time.

Sometimes a day is all it takes to remind you, life is good.

image of itasca lake

18 thoughts on “Biking to the headwaters, meeting protesters, and rediscovering the joy of a well-made open-faced sandwich

  1. You’ve already been living in Minnesota for TWO years? Whoa. More importantly, thank you for the plug/photos on “Knitting for Justice” plug/photos. Peaceful pleas combined with unique talents. That’s how you do it, America.

  2. Sweet! Wonderful pics too. I’m so glad you included those women in your post-what they are doing is awesome. They make me even prouder of my home state.

  3. “Knitting for Justice” sound like they tying it all together …

    That just sounds like the perfect day out – even on a 50 year old bike – and food at the end. Couldn’t get any better.

    and once or twice I’ve gotten ride of annoying people in public by asking, “Can I tell you about Jesus?” You can clear a whole state with that line.

  4. My daughter and son-in-law bought electric bikes this spring. They live on the top of a hill – now they can ride all over the place without wondering if they have the energy to get home!

    1. The guy we bought our bike rack from had switched to electric (he had to get a different rack for them). They sound pretty nifty. If I had to deal with many hills, I’d definitely consider it!

  5. One, I’m sure you realize it makes me giddy that you included the “Knitting for Justice” aspect of your journey. My heart warms at the sight of good people doing the right thing.

    Two, help me remember to one day share the story of an exquisite open-faced burger served at “The Metro Diner” during my halcyon college days many moons ago. I still get chills…

    1. Oh yes, please do share the tale of the open-faced burger! The world needs to know!
      As for the Knitting for Justice league, I’m a latecomer in appreciating the necessity of protesters. Looked at pragmatically, how often do they achieve their aims? Rarely. Yet the inspiration and courage they provide us are boundless, and that is priceless.

  6. The headwaters look much the same as when I saw them 50 or so years ago, except there was no footbridge then. I think the trip may have been with a church group, so as we hopscotched across the rocks we were religious types walking on water, crossing the Mississippi.

    I don’t remember we if we cleared anyone out, kids can be kinda oblivious. Surprising how many of ’em stay that way.

    I remember a big Paul Bunyan statue I think in Bemidji, but there was an amusement park wrapped around it at the time. I was just a wee lad then, can’t say if it was the same Paul. We’ve got a good sized Paul Bunyan in Portland too.

    I’m cool with protesters, but I’m getting damn tired of the extremists giving everyone else a bad name. A few bad apples in a big barrel…

    1. Hi Dave! Don’t let this go to your head, but you’ve been missed. Glad to see you back.

      Since you’re from around these parts, maybe you can explain what the deal is about Paul Bunyan? I always thought he was Canadian, but what do I know?

      1. Sorry about ghosting you (and everyone else.) Less getting out and about = fewer pictures = fewer blog posts and a general lack of enthusiasm. My Reader feeds me fewer posts too, so I suspect I’m not the only one. I suppose I could post from the flower pics, but they don’t really lend themselves to stories. How about a steady diet of semi-wordless posts? Leave the flowery language to the flora.

        Not sure what the deal is with Paul. Probably just Another Roadside Attraction. (Ever read that? Kinda weird, but by a gifted writer.)

        1. Oh, I totally get the “general lack of enthusiasm.” I started out with a bang during the shutdown, getting so much done, but now I’m lucky if I make the bed.
          And yeah, semi-wordless posts sound good!

  7. Fun post, Christi! Now that I’m home in the Verde Valley and have WiFi I can begin catching up with my friends in the blogosphere. Yeah! I never made it to the headwaters, but it’s now on the list of stuff to do with the grands when we get together again in Chicagoland.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s