Friday, August 16, 2013

The Greater Grand Forks area: East Grand Forks, MN and Grand Forks, ND

I was too tired to do a post last night --- maybe because the silence at our previous night’s beautiful, secluded campsite was interrupted by late-night loud talkers.  Yeah, I’m talking about you, couple in the older class A motor home with Manitoba plates in site 80 at Lake Bemidji State Park on August 14.  Take it inside after 11 p.m. next time, will you? Quiet hours actually start at ten.

OK, I got that off my chest.  

Yesterday morning we left Bemidji, Minnesota, and headed west on straight, flat Route 2.  We saw woods, grasslands, stands of wood pulp trees, then farm fields and the Minnesota prairie.  The crops were the first we've seen in a while, other than mowed hay fields with big round bales of hay.  In the small town of McIntosh we also saw a community gathering at the local gas (Cenex) station.  Must have been 40 people there enjoying a cook out.

Now we're at the Sherwood Park Campground at Red River State Recreation Area in downtown East Grand Forks, MN -- and the site of a destructive 1997 flood.  Heavy rains in autumn 1996 were followed by greater-than-normal snowfall (including an early April blizzard), and heavy rain again in the spring of 1997.  Later in April and also in May of 1997, the slow-moving Red River flooded all but 8 of 2,300 residential parcels in East Grand Forks.  That’s right, only 8 homes were not damaged.  

After the flood, the Army Corps of Engineers designed a 1,200 acre greenway to protect both East Grand Forks on the Minnesota side and Grand Forks on the North Dakota side. Several neighborhoods were demolished and cleared, including homes and businesses on what is now the RV park where we are staying. High earthen berms and rocks walls were built.  The dikes and walls, plus the greenway, should protect both cities from future heavy flood damage.  

As for activities, last night we walked several miles on the greenway and had a late lunch at the Blue Moose Grill, which is adjacent to the RV park.  Today was chore day.  We did laundry, got a prescription filled, and did some grocery shopping.  And in the process of all that, got to explore Greater Grand Forks. 
The drive to East Grand Forks.  We haven't seen such flat land since we were in Mississippi. OK by us, because it makes for nice driving. We noticed on the map that western Minnesota has towns not far from US 2  named Harold, Melvin, Anthony, Dorothy and Hazel.
In addition to crops of beans, corn, what and oats, we saw sun flowers between Bemidji and East Grand Forks, MN.  We also saw piles of rocks near some of the farm fields that made me think of the times my dad had us walk next to a wagon and toss in the rocks we found (and made me think of you, Mom, since you were with us until you got a heat headache.  But before that you’d probably picked up more rocks than me, Don and Bob put together.)
As seen from the greenway walking path near our campsite in Minnesota.
Some flood protection on the Minnesota side.  To keep water out of downtown East Grand Forks,  solid metal plates can be inserted into the black slots seen on the high parts of the brick wall above. 
Looking back at Minnesota from the North Dakota side of the greenway.
The park ranger told us that during the 1997 floods, water reached the as high as the top of building above (as seen from the North Dakota side of the Red River).  It's now the Blue Moose Grill, where we had lunch (and where Jim had a sample flight of IPAs).  
Bev in front of a kiosk that shows the height of the water during 5 serious years of flooding.  Click on the photo enlarge.
This is a photo of a photograph displayed at our campground.  It shows what  former homes in this very area looked like during the 1997 Red River flood.
A tiny bit of the 20-miles of hiking and biking trails that are part of the Greater Great Forks area greenway.
Jim and Cooper at our campsite.  Last night we got a site with full hook ups (water, electric, sewer) but tonight the park only had six such spots left.  They were all non reservable, so we got on a waiting list but just missed getting a full hook-up site.  However, there were 13 sites without hook ups and we got one of those.  That works for us since we have two solar panels and a generator.
Two of the RV park's roads used to be residential streets before the 1997 flood, including the road above.  I can easily imagine homes -- instead of RVs -- nestled beside the big trees.

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