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.
|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.|
|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.|