After a night to remember, I laid there as another train past at my head. I realized I was about 5 steps from the tracks. This will be as close to a set of train tracks I will want to sleep next to… ever. I packed up my tarp, stretched and jumped in the boat. I realized what I had come into last night and where I landed. I pulled back and captured a picture for my own perspective. Then I heard another train coming. I positioned the boat to get good light behind me and photographed it as it came through.
My body was wrecked from sleeping at a rough angle and bad body position all night. This is part of the adventure that I thought I might encounter along this journey. I began my trek down the river throughout the sloughs towards Lansing, IA. I had a lot of open water to pass through before I reconnected with the Mississippi. I found myself beginning to drift asleep in my boat. It was not comfortable, but I caught myself taking super power naps in the big channel. My back was sore and my hands were shot. It was painful to paddle with my right hand. That was the hand holding my tarp all night. I managed while watching some eagles as I floated. I thought to myself about Minnesota. I entered this adventure in the “wild” section of the state and am leaving the state with the “wild” still going strong. I will always remember Minnesota for that element. I could not have been happier with that impression for this segment of the trip. It was the largest state for this adventure and by far a favorite. I know I am still up north, but I will smile all the way through the deep south.
I picked up the main channel of the Mississippi and made my way towards Lansing, IA. I made the last big turn and the small town was right in front of me. I was looking forward to stopping and getting some lunch. I pulled up to Sweeney’s and parked on the grass behind the restaurant. I grabbed my camera bag and walked up into town. I stopped by this antique shop and got a food recommendation. I stopped in to get a burger. It was greasy, but filling. I walked back down to my boat to pull out my computer. My body was hurting, so I figured I could update my blog. I sat on their patio and got to work. Some kid came down there to check on me and gave me the wifi password. I sat down in the windy covered bar before deciding to move upstairs. The manager gave me a table and a glass of water. There was an older community that moved into the room I was in to play cards. It was fun seeing a community of people getting together to do their regular thing.
I caught up and that is when a guy named Lloyd came over to see what I was doing. I told him about my trip. He was very kind and offered to drive me up to the overlook up the hill. I was open to any new local things. I agreed after I finished my updates. He offered me a place to crash if I wanted to stay in the town. I wanted to get a few more miles in, but I also needed a break from my soreness. I thought a good bed or couch would fix that. I agreed. I loaded my gear into his car and locked my boat up at Sweeney’s. He drove to the lookout. It was one of the first times I was able to see the scope of the flooding. The river is about 8′ above its normal level. I could see Wisconsin across the way and Minnesota upstream. I was in awe of the amount of water that covered the entire area. I gained an appreciation for Mother Nature and the journey I was living.
I took some images and continued to talk with Lloyd. He was chatty about the area and about his wife, Betty. They had been married for 52 years with 14 kids and 36 grandkids. As we approached the top of the hill, I saw a WWI (One) memorial. He told me how his dad fought in France. I gained a further appreciation for history through his eyes. We went back down to town and grabbed a bite to eat. I arrived at the house and enjoyed a quality conversation with both Lloyd and Betty. I got a shower and called it a good day. I was impressed by the kindness of strangers I have been lucky to meet. It makes my traveling heart smile.
Side note: The small area between the water and the tracks in the last image is where I slept.