River Monsters

I wasn’t all that keen on taking off. I was pretty comfortable. It had to be done though. I wasn’t staying another night.i got all my stuff loaded on to a luggage cart and went to the lobby. It was helpful that the same guy that checked me in was working checkout already. I didn’t have to explain everything.

We wheeled down to the ballroom with my canoe and I wheeled it out. Leaving was much easier because I could exit out some wide double doors right to an alley behind the hotel. My water was mostly empty still from the long portage. There was no sense carrying 40+ lbs of water when there was easy access.

Just before I got back to the regular portage route I started seeing a bunch of homeless people. First it was just two blocking the sidewalk, but further down there was a whole group. As I rounded the corner I realized what was happening. The police and garbage collectors were clearing out a homeless camp. I didn’t even know they were there the day before. Even though it looks like trash, throwing out a homeless person’s things seems pretty low.

Garbage truck clearing a homeless camp

I finally made it to Bohemian Flats, the end of the portage. I looked around for the water and finally saw a spigot a ways off. It was one of those water bottles fillers and was taking forever. I finally gave up after maybe 2 gallons. I walked back and moved my canoe down the steep sandy bank.

Once in I took a peek up river and then passed by my first paddle boat, the Minneapolis Queen. This section was really quiet. There was an interesting culvert. I also went by the local rowing club out for their practice.

Look back up river
Minneapolis Queen
Monster Culvert
View of the river

I was a tiny bit anxious for the next step: my first lock. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I could talk to them on my marine radio on channel 14. I waited until I was nearly there and gave an uncomfortable call requesting to lock downriver. He told me it would take 25 minutes to fill the chamber. And so I waited. I noticed on the sign that they had very limited hours. I wasn’t even aware. They are closed 3 days a week, and are only open 8-6 on the other days. I had plenty of time to think about this while I waited about 45 minutes.

Finally the gates opened and I could proceed in. The lock tender told me his lights weren’t working, so I could come after the gates had finished. In I went and I grabbed a rope. After the gates closed, the draining began. It just kept going! You can see the dry section of wall in the picture. Apparently this lock drops 36 feet. Whe. The gates opened and I got a loud horn to proceed. I heard the lock tender tell at the entering boat “Slow down, no wake!” I was glad he was looking out for me.

Lock 1

I passed another dog park, probably my third one in as many miles. I came across a handful of tennis balls just floating around in the river. I grabbed them because it just seemed like the thing to do. I also passed by a marina with multiple houseboats. It was a bit of a new sight.


Just after the marina, I saw something and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was a strange boat with a bunch of “hippies” hanging out on the beach. It had instruments and various crazy things attached. I didn’t take a photo because it felt wrong to treat them like a spectacle. I later learned it was the Flotsam River Circus that puts on free shows at various points on the river.

Shortly thereafter I saw a guy throwing sticks in the water for his dogs. I gave him some tennis balls in hopes he’d put them to good use.

Another new thing in this section was retractable rail bridges. I happened to pass as a small cruise boat went by.

Rail bridge

Also: buoys now marked the channel. The “channel” is the measured and dredged section of the river that is deep enough for commercial passage and generally free from obstruction. The channel doesn’t matter much to me since I only need about 5 inches to float. The green buoys mark the right and the red mark the left if you’re headed down river.

Green buoy

Heading past St Paul has a very commercial feel. I took a break on the shore not far from a bunch of barges. As I continued on south I learned about a whole new type of boat that I hate: cabin cruisers. They leave a massive wake as they speed past.

I didn’t make the miles I had hoped for the day. As I got to the S St Paul boat landing I pulled out. It was a bit busy, but it would do for the night. Also, passed 500 miles today!

Mileage: 20.6

Total Mileage: 509.1

Day 25

One thought on “River Monsters

  1. For some reason this entry was very satisfying to read. Maybe it was that there were a lot of people around….I don’t know. I remember learning the mantra “red right returning” for use on waterway. In 1986 and ‘87, Jackie ?last name from Financial Aid and I crewed on a 23’ sailing boat with Bob Tarrant, accounting professor. First year we hopped on his boat at Port Huron, traveled up the eastern shoreline and visited a few nice spots before crossing Lake Huron and heading to Mackinaw Island. Fun there, then back. I think the next crew came on at Mackinaw City and Jackie and I were driven by Bob’s wife Shirley back to get our cars in Port Huron. Trip lasted a week and it was a different world on the water. Terminology, viewpoint, fresh air. Fabulous, but nice to get back to my 6 & 7 year-olds at home! Have fun, Nick! We are all cheering for you!
    Bingo Auntie Bonnie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *