The 135 mile drive across western Minnesota was fun, picturesque and rainy! We purposely departed a little late from Grand Forks knowing our drive was a short one and we hoped the drizzle would stop. The drizzle did stop but only about 30 miles from our destination park, the Royal Oaks RV Park, and by that time the coach was a dirty mess outside. So what else does Dave have to do? We recommend this little RV park as it is right close to US 2 with easy off and on plus it's location to Bemidji and the eastern entrance to Itasca State Park. Rebecca needed a hair cut and got a good recommendation from the manager here for Terry's Nary Hairport just three miles down the road. Superb hair cut for $15..
So, our purpose in stopping here is two-fold, to pay our respects to Paul Bunyan and Babe AND we recently were reminded that the headwaters of the Mississippi River is near here. Both are interesting prospects.
First, we went to Itasca State Park to locate the headwaters of the Mississippi. This park is Minnesota's first state park out of concern for preservation of the trees, wildlife and birds long ago. If you enter the park from the eastern entrance you'll get a better idea of the beauty and a possible glimpse of bears and cubs who stay in this section of the park. Itasca covers more than 32,500 acres with some large tracts of old-growth red and white pine forest. This area of rolling hills was shaped by glaciers 10,000 years ago. And so, it is from this spot that the "Mighty Mississippi" flows and grows. The Mississippi runs 2,550 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. But, it must go north first, to Bemidji, it's first city on it's long run, in order for it to turn south. How long does it take for a drop of water to make the trip to the Gulf? About 90 days.
When we left the Itasca State Park we then headed to Bemidji to find Paul Bunyan and his trusty Babe the Blue Ox. We found them standing next to each other on the edge of Lake Bemidji at the visitors center. Paul is looking mighty good these days for being 80 years old, with what looks like a fresh coat of paint, he's dapper! Ol' Babe is also looking like he's keeping his age well and he too has a fresh coat of paint. Paul certainly met with our expectations in size, standing at 18 feet tall and his concrete weighs in at about 8 tons and took 747 man hours to construct!!! Babe's horns measure 14 feet from tip to tip!
Nearby, we discovered the wonderful statue of Chief Bemidji or Chief Shaynowishkung for whom this town, lake and area are named. The statue has remarkable detail, very beautiful piece of bronze. When one is in a neat old town like this one it just bears to take a drive around the downtown area to see what's happening...We quickly found there are pieces of sculpture on most every corner. And we later find out that this is a revolving sculpture show. The pieces we saw may be switched out next week or next month! Cool, keeping it fresh in the downtown area. Great idea.