Today I took the bus back to Wadena and got picked up by Greg. He filled me in on the plan to recover the blown down wood on farms in the region and build economy for the farmers, small local millers, wood finishers and installers; strengthen the local economy keeping the value of the wood local. 1,200 truck loads of wood had already been hauled out from the city-center to the airport to be chipped; a typical export of raw valuable resources. Fortunately Greg's vision, skills and organizing ability are being recognized on the wood recovery project from the tornado blow-down. Now we need he and others who could be hired (naturally through an ecology-based economy) to do planting and selective logging, where wood is milled, finished and installed locally, at the same time enhancing the fertility and wildlife corridors of the forests(not tree-farms) over the next 100-200 years.. For the two poorest counties in : Wadena and Todd, there is potential to create a vibrant wood-based economy that restores the land and the people of the land.
Back on the bike, destination: Wadena. It was hot with a sweet tailwind on the back country roads. I got caught in a short intense storm with lightning above my head that put a shock through my handlebars! I stopped in Clarissa. From what I understand it is losing it's high school (Another rural town drying-up due to centralization). At the city park I crashed a family picnic to introduce myself and the campaign. I talked with the Mayor's wife, some siblings from Mankato, and others at random.
Then on to bike trail paralleling it; a natural outcome of an ecology-based economy. Which would add an alternative transportation route and tourism to that part of the State). Road kill for the day were varieties of butterflies. When I was about 10 miles from Wadena a storm started to swirl, the air pressure shifted, and it was as if I were biking through mud. Someone stopped and told me people were being stopped in Bertha because the conditions were becoming ripe for a twister. My pace picked-up and for the next 10 miles I sprinted (as fast as you can pulling 150 pounds) thinking “Not Wadena again.” When I was 6 blocks from Kent's, where I was staying, a train blocked me and, of course, the rain poured for that short distance. I was so close to getting in dry! 6 hours riding. . (which needs a
That evening Kent and Vicki took me out for some delicious Mexican food.
Today we prepped the old barn foundation for my presentation on Kent's land: 80 acres of aquaculture, carbon sink and retreat.
Kent, the host, and Mim the organizer, were the only two to show. Even though through Mim's initiative we got some publicity in the Wadena Journal (Which is rare.) and she posted about 40 flyers around the region about the event. With no turnout we spent our time organizing a regional strategy for the campaign and beyond. “ Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead.
I opened a new Facebook page for the campaign.
The day was a beautiful 3 ½ hr. ride into Staples. I saw two soaring hawks, another, dead on the road; I tolerated the traffic on Hwy 10 (another needed location for a separate bike trail).
As I arrived in Staples I was met by a reporter, Dawn, from the Staples World Newspaper ( see attachment of article and picture).
As Dawn and I walked into a cool community-based non-profit coffee house called the Stomping Grounds, the guy working behind the counter, Ethan, was totally jazzed on what the Party and campaign are all about. He, his band mates and community of friends, are ready to do some organizing.
I stayed that night at the Dower Lake Campsite by a cracklin fire with the loons calling into the night. It's a glorious way to campaign.
Today I woke from a rough nights sleep, had a good breakfast and shower; went toward Staples stopping and pitching the campaign to farmers and others along the way. Then into the Stomping Grounds where there was good conversation to be had and a chance to catch-up on e-mail. After that I went business-to business talking to chiropractors, lawyers, workers at the pizzeria and the HVAC man, Marv. Then back to camp where Ethan showed and we had a lively conversation next to the fire. After dinner I watched the storm roll-in, it was all flash and thunder but no rain until the next morning.
At about 6am I was awoken by the thunder of the slowly moving storm, I could smell the oncoming rain. I decided to pack-up as fast as I could to avoid packing-up in a downpour. Just as I got everything under the tarp and was rolling up the tent the sky opened. It was a close call. As I started to bike the storm passed but the air seemed thick enough to spread on bread.
In Motley I stopped to do a radio interview on KLKS and then for a big breakfast.
In Pillager there was a crafty coffee house called Shante'. Timing was everything; while I snacked a fierce storm must have dropped 2 inches in 40mph winds in a half an hour. After that the skies cleared the humidity dropped and the wind was at my back floating into Brainerd.
After a quick stop for some bike repairs it was over to Lonna's, Roderic's cousin. As I arrived so did Roderic, David and Ryan hauling two canoes. We feasted on bbq veggie brats, and then over to another of Roderic's cousins Jamie's, to prepare for our launch on the the next morning.
We woke, packed, and headed over to John's, Jamie's boyfriend's where Roderic and Jamie prepared some tasty, filling eggs and pancakes.
From there we went to and set the boats in the water attended and assisted by Roderic, Jamie and Jamie's daughter. Kristen Olsen came in from the Cities with her children and boyfriend to celebrate our departure (look to attached picture).
It was a beautiful sunny day with a strong headwind. With three of us: David, Ryan and I, one had to go solo and it made for slow and challenging paddling.
As we approached , Larry was waiting with freshly picked raspberries from his garden. He joined us for lunch and political banter on war and peace and the need for harmony with nature.
After that I was the solo paddler and offered comic relief for David and Ryan.
A sense of urgency grew as we began to realize we were not going to make our initial camping destination and needed an alternative. Our pace picked-up, the sun was going down, we scouted out a few spots, and after ten hours on the water we noticed though the trees a boarded-up cabin.
As David and Ryan tolerated my edginess and anger from fatigue and hunger we pitched our tents. Ryan took a swim and gained a leech on his hand. David and Ryan fired up the stove and prepared a delicious Indian dish. For night sounds we had the firing of guns across the river at Fort Ripley.
I started to realize being away from home for so long on the road/river was taking an emotional toll.
At bedtime for the first three hours in the sleeping bag, due to my 20 year gap from canoing, I never have felt such pain in my shoulders; then sleep.
Today we woke to constant gunfire and a beautiful sunny day, we talked about how big dollars were being wasted on war when great peace could be achieved by using the gun dollars for ecological and humane needs (same-old same-old. When are we going to find the gumption to subdue/redirect/dissolve the war biz and redefine national security?).
The winds were with us; within 3 hours we were at the canoe campsite we had hoped to reach the first day. It was a steep eroded bank to the site but once there it was great. We went for a swim relaxed and soaked in the day. Boy, they could use more of these types of canoe campsites along the river! Later that night after dinner Ryan lit a beautiful fire and, even though the mosquitoes were tenacious, we sang a few songs; David held counsel on organizing and the ways of the universe.
We arose at sunrise so we could break camp and get out on the water before an impending storm. Ryan headed out first. As David and I were loading the canoe, I looked one way and then back again and there was David looking stunned drenched from falling out of the boat. Instead of telling him to grab his eyeglasses which were loosely clinging to his shirt, I told him to grab his floating hat, and then the glasses fell in. For the next 45 minute we kept diving but we could not find them. Fortunately he had a back-up pair. When we called Ryan to notify him we were late he had already reached our destination in Little Falls. He had truly transformed into a strong solo paddler.
The river was both mighty and majestic. With an abundance of wildlife we saw: Loons, turtles, eagles, hawks, deer, wild turkeys, osprey and otters. The roots along the eroding shore revealed so much history, at times I felt it could have been 1910. Yes this life and death cycle, this source, is worthy of more than my words could describe. But, what would this river, the Mississippi, truly be if there were no locks and dams to alter it, clog it? No poisons to beat down it's immune system? What would it be like if the River were allowed to be a free river again? For now, no matter what was or could be, I'm grateful, if only once, to have had this experience. Thanks to David, Ryan and Roderic for making it possible.
Roderic arrived at the boat launch as the storm was looming. We switched my bike and trailer for the canoe, and Roderic, David and Ryan headed back to the cities. I raced to the nearest motel and just got in as the storm hit. A hour later the sirens went off; no tornado only heavy rains.
The day was hot with a soft tailwind as I traveled hugging the . The road kill of the day was skunk. And did I get some serious stink up-front and personal. I decided to make random stops to introduce people to the campaign: one stop a vicious dog came running around the corner, the owner stepped in to keep him tame. The owner must have been studying the Limbaugh, O'Reilly, talking points. Once I realized our conversation was going into a place where we were speaking past each other the flyer I was going to hand him went back in my bag and I booked it out of there without getting mauled. Other conversations along the way were better.
After 7 hours in the saddle I arrived at Nicholas's in St. Cloud and had dinner with him, his wife Sharalynn, and their four kids. Nicholas and I then walked a few blocks to the Munsinger Clemens Gardens which is the most magical spread of fountains, flowers, colors and sweet aroma. We walked the shore, caught a view along the river and were privy to local geocaching and/or a micro-treasure hunt. Another little secret of St. Cloud.
I started out at 9:30am my tentative destination was Buffalo. It was another hot and humid day. A woman, Leslie, also on a bike, noticed the sign on the back of the trailer and stopped to talk about the campaign and offer support. Arriving in Buffalo I stopped to talk to the news editor at the Minnesota! Journal-Press. Instead of staying in town I continued on to the Cities. All day it was liquids and more liquids. And the sights were corn, corn everywhere. Boy, do we grow way too much corn in
As I passed through Delano I was on the lookout for Tom Emmer. I thought I saw him busing his own dishes at local restaurant. Maybe not!
About 9 I arrived in Minnetrista at the Luce Line Trail. After being greeted overhead by a few bats the ride was haunting and challenging. After 15 hours and consuming about 3 gallons of liquids I arrived home at (Look to attached picture). There was some pain in the shoulder and knee and yet out of the exhaustion my resolve only grew for this campaign.
I headed out to Mound where I met Danene at the bus stop, we headed to dinner then I had a massage from Shirley, which was deep and needed.
The Next morning we went to the bike trail to flyer and I walked over to the Farmers Market.
After a quick lunch we went over to the beach and had some good conversations. One with an older couple Jack, and his wife of 60 years, Clifford (Kinda like "a boy named Sue".). She told us a story of her cotton picking days and how that kept her strong into old age. Clifford then proceeded to showed us how she can still slam her palms to the ground and reach her foot over her head. And she kept squeezing my arm to prove she still had the cotton pickers grip.
Danene is the Ambassador of Mound and I feel she could become Mayor too.
From there it was a sweet bike ride back to Golden Valley.
Danene picked me up and we went out to a street festival next to the Black Dog Cafe in Lowertown St. Paul. We worked the crowd, handing-out over 200 flyers. It was a beautiful mix of sun, music and planting of political seeds.
See you on the trail.