Sunday, September 4, 2011

All my relations.

Taking a break from the elements of road I stopped just outside Itasca State Park to have bit to eat and a cup of coffee. The lunch crowd was beginning to file in as I ordered. Soon the cafe' of empty tables were occupied and an older gentleman stepped through the door bent from a life of hard work like a boomerang. I wondered if I survived to his age how straight my posture might be. Without any tables open he asked If he could sit with me and we made small talk about the weather and the hunting seasons. It was obvious neither of us cared about hunting but what do you do when having conversation with a stranger in Minnesota when the tables dressed with DNR rulebooks for hunting and fishing alongside the cream and sugar tray. He was in from Arizona and asked me several questions obout how much rain had fallen in recent days. I shaared what I knew as I'd spent most of the previous four days walking in rain and mist, clouds and sun. Having a knowledge of the names I'd walked thru for the fifty or so miles in those days he asked if I was a "local" or there visiting. Up until then I had managed to keep my story out of the discourse but soon the whole room had heard my tale and had heard the list of possible breeds my lovely companion may or may not have mixed in him. He IS a brown dog. I finished my meal and paid the bill quickly and had to pose for only a few photographs before I made my way to the edge of the parking area and the roadway. There I met the hosts and hostesses of the Itasca State Park Camprounds. They were pulling in for lunch but since I had just eaten offered me their hospitality and their knowledge of the park along with a map. Being party planners my day and evening was arranged in a few minutes and my uncertain plan to the headwaters of the Mississippi became almost as clear as the waters at the great rivers' beginning. I made my way into the parks' south entrance, found a large feather, and eventually to the camping area where I met some of the park staff, was shuttled to get my supply van and had a nice dinner of campfire cooked wieners and fresh corn on the cob while getting to know my hosts and hostess' "with the most-ess'". They had made up fliers and had posted them around the camopground to invite the holiday weekend families to listen to my story after dinner so I spent the evening sharing free-style my tales and the message, Love yourself and those you care for, go for a walk. I then spent the remainder of the night in my hosts' motor home with them and a local family until it was time to get some quiet and sleep in the van parked by the host camper. In the morning I had a much needed shower, took Nice (the dog) for a ' mark every tree ' walk around the campground before having breakfast with the host and hostess "with the most-es". Prepared with a towel, rubber slippers and the company of my host we walked the scenic path to the headwaters. I was more tired than Nice (the dog), he pulled ahead all day which made it a challenge to keep the World at bay. Him pulling, me pushing; I felt like an abstract Dr.Doolittle's Push-me-pull-you chartacter. The holiday weekend brought scores of cyclists to the path and when we arrived at the head of the Mississippi the sunny morning had brought hundreds to experience what I had walked hundreds of miles to experience, walk accross the "big muddy" without a bridge. Though it seemed obvious to me why I was there I still had to field the question of what we were doing. I did my best, with my low energy, to be gracious and make the symbolic crossing. Thankfully, with the help of the campground hosts, Nice and I waded the Mississippi as I rolled the World across a split log that bridged the twelve foot head of the river I had crossed so many times over countless spans
During my travels. We then walked out of the fray to the welcome center for a pleasant lunch, walked out of the park to the north entrance completing my task of the headwaters at Itasca. (I know, groan). Again, assisted by the host and hostess with the most-ess I was able to get the supply van to the store just beyond the park border. Feather in hand, a chapter closed...

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