Oct 16, 2010

After You - Mississippi River

The After You is a river cruiser. And we live near the Mississippi. We cross it weekly, the land "Up North" is by the source of the river. I've read Twain and various travelogues of folks who have gone down the river in canoes, bass boats, riverboats and more. I've read the history of the river and the lands around it. To say I am drawn to the Mississippi is a safe bet. I built the boat with the Namekagon in mind, but it didn't take long for me to turn my sights to the Mississippi.

After the success with the Namekagon I wanted to try something bigger. The plan was simple: Jill drops me at Hidden Falls and picks me up a couple hours later at Lilydale. It was decided the night before that Lily wouldn't be joining me on the first Mississippi run. Everyone wanted to know if I could make it. I'm not really sure what they thought would happen..

Launching went well and I headed UP river! The motor seemed quieter given that the river was a bit wider. It's possible the current was less than the Namekagon, but I'm not sure. I moved upriver at a walking pace that might not lend itself to long upriver trips, but certainly affords enough speed that I don't feel like I'm completely at the mercy of the current. I made it up to be able to see the lock and dam - but I certainly wasn't going to try locking on my first trip out.

The upper portion of the river was fairly busy with everything from motorboats to Caddyshack-sized yachts.

Wakes on passing boats were an early concern, but eventually became just another part of the ride. I got pretty good at taking the waves right on the bow corners and we slipped right through them. There is some side to side rocking but nothing alarming. I headed downriver and eventually got to the Minnesota river "riverlets" down by Fort Snelling State Park. The Minnesota really does dump a ton of mud and silt into the river. You can literally see the color change. It's a bit disturbing.

When I got to the main channel of the Minnesota I headed up. The current was stronger, so I wasn't making much progress. Combine that with the additional twigs, sticks, branches and logs coming down at me I figured I'd wait til I ran out of gas and turn around when that happened. When it did indeed I dropped anchor and refilled the tank with the auxiliary gas can and headed back down. I anchor from the rear, so it aims me downriver automatically. Handy.

After fighting the current upriver the trip down felt like I was flying. The power of the motor is just enough that I can steer by simply shifting my weight, so it felt a bit like I was surfing down the river. Really felt connected to the current somehow. Nice.

Coming up the river was the Anson Northrup, one of the Paddleford packet fleet. I rang my bell at them and they were literally cheering at me. It was a lot of fun, and nice to see one of the old-style boats on the river.

Had the opportunity to see barges, but no towboats. I can wait on that. They're big, wakey, and can be dangerous.

Near the landing was this shanty-looking boat. It's been there for weeks and I thought it might be storage, but there was smoke coming from the stack, and later on I noticed movement on the boat. Was too far away to see well by then.

I like how the river seems forgotten and how remote and "old" it feels. These old pilings had some pretty intimidating signs on them, but looked quite old.

I landed with time to spare and spent some time with (yes, of course) the traditional "old man come to look at the boat" and his daughter. They were actually visiting from down south, so it was interesting to wonder what they thought about these crazy Minnesotans.

Found some pretty large paw prints in the mud. They didn't look like dog prints, but what do I know? Just prefer to think it was some sort of mountain lion or something.

Taking out went well, though I had to have Jill sit on the hood of the car to make sure we didn't slip the wheels on that stinky Mississippi mud! The next time I pulled the boat I could still smell it even though it was dried and caked a bit on the trailer tongue. Beautiful, beautiful stinky.

Can't wait to go on a longer trip!

(I'm already planning to take the After You down the river to the Pepin Messabout in June. Sweet!)

Oct 12, 2010


The GPS didn't pick up the signal until we were near Nokomis. Did a reverse Grand Rounds ending at the Coffee shop. Sadly, they changed their hours. Happily, we found a BETTER one around the corner. And it has beer, even!