Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Paul Bunyan lived here

I didn't know that Paul Bunyan was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, nor that "it took five large storks, working overtime to deliver Paul to his parents" as I read in a brochure  from the Bemidji Tourist Information Center.  Apparently a few other places claim to be PB's hometown (including Oscoda, Michigan; Bangor, Maine; and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, says Wikipedia). But Bemidji has a statue of PB and his ox, Babe, to back it up.  Photo below.

Before we explored Bemidji, a town of about 14,000 people in north central Minnesota, we kayaked on Lake Bemidji, the name sake of the state park where we're camping. And the namesake of the town, come to think of it.  It was my kind of kayaking -- warm weather, no wind, very smooth water.  The only waves were occasional wakes from fishing and pleasure boats.

Tonight we wanted to join a "Explore the Mississippi River Pontoon Tour," a 2-hour trip with a park naturalist about the history and lore of the Mississippi River.  We were on the waiting list and missed the cut off.  But we got a chance to ask the naturalist a question that's been bugging us: Where are the headwaters of the Mississippi, anyway?  Per the naturalist, the Mississippi starts at Lake Itasca, about 45 miles southwest of Bemidji.  It flows north to Lake Bemidji, then east out of the lake before starting its trek south.   
Jim, Cooper and I pose with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  The "life-size" statue of PB is 18 feet high and weighs 2 1/2 tons.  Babe weighs 5 1/2 tons.  The statues are in downtown Bemidji next to the Tourist Information Center (and the lake) and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  According to the Tourist Center, Paul and Babe are the second most photographed man-made icons in the US.   What would be number one?  Golden Gate Bridge?

Displayed on downtown Bemidji street corners are unusual sculptures, including this flying pig and a gator.  
This is part of the downtwon County Courthouse. Bemidji is the county seat of Beltrame County.  
Bev in her kayaking gear with our boats in front of Lake Bemidji.  I wore my new kayaking shoes made by NRS; they kept the sand and mud off my feet and were great.  Also, a sandy beach with a gentle slope made it easy to get in and out of the boats. I actually did both without any help from Jim.  That was a first for me.
If you click on the photo to make it larger, you might be able to see Jim through the reeds and to the right.   We paddled by a lot of beautiful lake homes today.  Jim said you'd almost want to buy one of them and live here until you realize Bemidgi's mean average temperature is 37 degrees.  
Another view from my boat.  Besides gorgeous clouds we saw a bald eagle and also heard a concert by dueling loons on opposite sides of the lake.  Again, click to enlarge and you can see Jim -- this time he's at the center top of the water.


  1. Happened to see your comment on the HeyDuke's blog (we met them nearly two years ago in Myrtle Beach). We are currently in Kaysville and have hit the following breweries -- Roosters in Layton, Epic and Squatter's Pub in Salt Lake and Bohemian in Midvale. Would you highly recommend any of the others?

  2. Too bad we didn't run into you as I too am always on the perfect IPA quest... maybe somewhere down the trail our paths will cross again...

  3. Hi BoonDocks! Jim of Jim and Bev is the beer connoisseur of the two of us. Besides the ones you mentioned, Jim suggests Red Rock at 254 S 200 W in Salt Lake and Desert Edge in Salt Lake’s Trolley Square. I’m not a big fan of the food at Desert Edge, but that may not be important:) Also, Squatters in Park City is nice but it has the same beer/menus as the one in town. Looked at your blog -- it's great! when the Google car took a photo of our house, Jim was standing in the driveway. So funny when we saw Jim immortalized.

  4. Thanks, heyduke. We very well may cross paths! See you on the road.