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M crosses the Mississippi and steps into Facebook fame

M CROSSES THE MISSISSIPPI AND STEPS INTO FACEBOOK FAME: Last week, M and I went up to the Iron Range of Minnesota so that I could continue to do research for the sequel to Crashing Through the Windshield. On the way home, we stopped for a few days in Bemidji to enjoy the resort town and to visit Itasca State Park which is home to the headwaters of the great Mississippi River.

M and I first visited the park in June 2010, and he crossed the river on the rocks where Lake Itasca meets the Mississippi. After watching M trying to navigate those slippery rocks, I didn’t even attempt it. At that time, M started out smiling, then got stuck, literally stuck on a slippery rock and didn’t venture further.  An able-bodied teenager came to his rescue and helped him get to the other side.

M starts to cross the river with a confident smile.

M starts to have doubts as people slip in front of him.

How did M get back to the shore from where he started? Not far away is a split log that affords one the opportunity to cross over the river. That’s how I did it (I know some people don’t think this counts, but I crossed the Mississippi on a log and was proud of the accomplishment.)

Fast forward fourteen years. We are older and more cautious as both of us are not what we used to be physically. We went to the rocks. M looked longingly at them while I held my breath. Surely, he wasn’t going to try again. Not today, please Lord, not today  with either the rocks being lower or the water higher! Finally, he said, “I’ll cross by the steps.” I exhaled.

So, we walked about fifty yards down the path until we came to where the steps were. I stood on the bridge and documented his second crossing. The steps that were underwater were slippery, and he would have lost his footing if he had not been forewarned by people who crossed right before he did. It may not look it, but the water was deeper and faster than either of us anticipated. He had to hike up his shorts and brace his legs while I kept saying, “O.K. Smile. Could you get more in the middle? Wait, let me take another one.”

M crosses the Mississippi about fifty yards from its headwaters.

The water appears yellow in the photo, but that’s how it looked. Why? I don’t know; maybe it was the intense sun. One of our friends said, “That reminds me of a book I read, The Yellow River, by I. P. Daly.” There are books titled, The Yellow River, but none that I could find by Daly, thank goodness. Yes, I knew it was a joke, but I thought I’d better check anyway.

M posted his photo and picture on the Facebook group page, It’s a Minnesota thing. Well folks, it certainly must be because to date he has 4,500 likes, 250 comments, and 426 shares. He is ecstatic! For a man who is a novice when it comes to technology, it is phenomenal that he crossed a river on foot and stepped into Facebook fame.

We’ve both enjoyed reading the comments. People shared their memories, their excitement of crossing the river, their amazement that the mighty Mississippi had such humble origins. They talked about falling into the river or their friends or family falling in. Some spoke of broken toes or broken arms or triumph beyond measure in their trek across the rocks.

For those of you who would love to see the headwaters but may never have the opportunity, check out the park’s webcam:   This site will also tell you more about the park.

For more history on the creation of Itasca State Park, mnopedia is a good resource:

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