After an amazing week of adventure and sightseeing together, Missy and I said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I was over being in temperatures I considered too cold for the month of July, so I ditched my plans of heading north to Warroad in hopes of seeing the northern lights and decided that I was as far north as I wanted to go! I pointed the bike southwest towards Bemidji, MN. I had decided to take MN-1, which runs through George Washington Forest, thinking I would capitalize on the great road conditions so far encountered in Minnesota. Of course, I jinxed myself. MN-1 turned into a repeat of MI-28; almost a dozen miles of road construction, BOTH lanes, of loose gravel. Well, at least it was dry gravel and not coated in oil But, once again, I did not die, and arrived alive and well at my hotel right on Lake Bemidji.
It was fitting that, after a stay in the city that bills itself as “The First City on the Mississippi River” that I should make the journey to where the Mighty Mississippi begins- Lake Itasca, MN. So, after a morning stroll along the shore of Lake Bemidji, I packed up the rig and ran through my pre-roll-out checklist (hey, I’m from the aviation world, I believe in checklists!). As I was checking the tread wear on the camper tires, I noticed that the wear was a little more than I liked on one side than the other. So, after consulting with my brother, I took advantage of having a nice level, paved, parking lot and swapped it out for the spare. It didn’t take all that long, but it definitely pushed back my early arrival to the Mississippi headwaters in Itasca State Park. Looks like I wouldn’t be beating the crowds today, but oh well, better to be safe than sorry!
According to a sign posted along the pathway to the headwaters, the search for the origins of the Mississippi River ended in 1832 when Ojibwe Chief Ozawindib guided Henry Rowe Schoolcraft to Lake Itasca. The lake was known as “Omushkos” by the Indians and as “Lac la Biche” by the traders, both meaning Elk Lake. Schoolcraft renamed it “Itasca” from a combination of the Latin words for “truth” and “head.”
This area is also the start of the Great River Road, an epic 3000 mile All-American route that runs along the Mississippi River through 10 states, from Minnesota to Louisiana. It’s an epic motorcycle ride I’d like to do someday. I think I’m adding as many things to my “want to see/do someday” list as I’m checking off!
With the headwaters in my rearview mirrors, I picked up Hwy 2, aka the Great Northern route, and headed west for North Dakota.