Minnesota Lakes Interlude

Q: How do you keep kids out of the water? A: You call the place “Leech Lake.”

I mean, we’ve been here for about three days now, and have waded the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca, dipped our feet into LaSalle and Bemidji. But in spite of the glorious sunswept vista, and inviting shoreline just outside our door, I haven’t quite been ready to expose my toes to a body of water called “Leech Lake.” Not that I’m squeamish; I just grew up with the understanding that names tend to have meanings, you know?

Devon and I are up here in northern Minnesota visiting Antarctica friends, walking lake shores, sampling farmers markets, and just lying on the dock, watching the world go by. Leech Lake has proven itself a remarkably good place for all of that.

Left side: Lake Itasca, right side: Mississippi River. Paul, as usual, right in the middle of things.

Paul founded the Polar Geospatial Center and pretty much single handedly drove the creation and public availability of high-definition maps for the entire southern continent. I got introduced to him during my South Pole stint and I feel we immediately recognized each other as kindred “instigator at large” spirits. We’ve been crossing paths and visiting each other since, but this is the first time we’ve managed to visit him and his wife up at their new hideaway.

We’re headed east from here, making an overnight stop in Duluth – because, Duluth, you know? – then on to Appleton, Wisconsin to catch up with more friends from way, way back. Last time I was in Duluth they had an autumn storm that dropped a foot of snow on the town, with wind and waves that flooded the city and threw the lakefront boardwalk two blocks into the downtown streets. Our conference host wryly noted that this was exactly the weather in which the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

The weather forecast is staggeringly mild and beautiful this time, but I expect we’ll still manage to pick up a story or two on the way through. Before then, I still need to convince myself to get out on that lake here.

7 responses to “Minnesota Lakes Interlude

  1. Hmm…

    Maybe tie a piece of meat to a line and drag it through Leech Lake for a while, to see if it attracts leeches? Or instead just ask about leeches among the locals, who would no doubt be amused at an outsider earnestly experimenting with throwing meat into the water to see what happens.

    You guys have the best vacations. We need to take lessons from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we were at Itasca, fording the mighty, ankle-high Mississippi, I came across with a couple of tiny black squiggles making their way across the top of my feet. I brushed them off before Paul had a look, but he suggested they might have been baby leeches.


      • While baby animals are widely agreed to be cute, there is a threshold beyond which this is no longer true. Baby leeches crawling across one’s feet is clearly an example on the far side of that threshold.


        Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up on a farm just sixty miles south of Lake Itasca, near the town of Wadena. I often visited the state park in summer. It is enchanting place. However, the winters there are brutal which is part of the reason I live in San Diego.

    Liked by 1 person

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