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Rotary Roses and Boys and Girls Club

November 17, 2013

Minnesota – Wednesday, November 6

Since I ended up in Detroit Lakes last night, I figured Tula and I better start our day off with a walk by one of the lakes. As I was driving down toward the water, I passed a sign on a street corner in town that something about Roses for Rotary with an arrow pointing down the street. It looked like something worth checking out, so I drove down to a greenhouse where I saw another sign. I got on the computer and read about the rose sale, and it supports several literacy programs for local youth. I knew I had found a good donation opportunity (and one I haven’t seen before!). The rose sale was set up inside the greenhouse and I talked to the 2 people who were at the sales table.  They had ordered 650 dozen roses and they were being sold for $20/dozen. The sale lasts a couple days, but there’s usually not much left by Friday morning. The timing of the sale coincides with the beginning of hunting season (which starts Saturday) and it sounds like the roses are popular with hunters, who give them them to their wives and girlfriends as a token for their upcoming absences! Hunting is a big thing around here – there are also kick-off dinners for hunters in some of the local towns.

After the rose stop, Tula and I continued down to the lake, where we walked along the lakeshore and through a park, then I put her back in the car, and continued through some pretty neighborhoods. I walked a little over 3 1/2 miles. Then I started heading out of town toward Park Rapids, but realized I was on the wrong road. When I pulled off the highway to turn around, I saw a really big Boys and Girls Club Thrift Store, which I haven’t seen before. I read about the local Boys and Girls Club and it’s a big program in the Detroit Lakes area, and their building just so happened to be on the road I needed to get to the correct highway. So I felt like I needed to stop and make a donation! I found the building and went inside and met some of the staff. This part of Minnesota has one of the poorest counties in the state, and more than 50% of the school-age kids qualify for food assistance. There are about 130-140 kids who come to the Boys and Girls Club after school, and the staff and volunteers pick them up from school, and give them a snack and a hot meal, and organize activities for them. In the summer they’re open for 10 hours a day, and have about 100 kids each day.  They have a nice-sized building with a couple classroom spaces and a kitchen, and I enjoyed meeting the people there.

Then I got on the correct road toward Park Rapids, and made a quick stop at the place where a tornado had destroyed a forest in 2011, but the community had replanted hundreds of trees by 2012. From there I headed north to Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River, hoping to get to the visitor center before they closed early. I made it up there, and just missed the visitor center, but I was able to figure things out from their maps. Tula and I walked on the trail by one of the visitor centers, then drove to the one by the actual headwaters of the Mississippi River. I just loved walking in this park and to be able to see where the river begins was pretty magical after I’ve spent so much time walking next to it in a number of states. The beginning of the Mississippi River is small; kind of narrow and shallow. The water spills out of a big lake, over some rocks, to form the river that begins the long journey to the Gulf of Mexico, gaining width and depth and speed along the way. It actually flows north for a ways, before curving east and then south. There was a trail along the lakeshore by the woods, and Tula and I walked miles in the deepening twilight. We hadn’t gone very far when I heard a funny noise, and couldn’t figure out what it was at first. It sounded like someone was near me on a bicycle honking a horn. And then I saw swans – lots of them – and I think they were trumpeter swans. They were big and very loud, and it was fun to listen to the racket. They sort of made up for not seeing loons – someone told me they’ve all gone south.  One pair of swans still had a young one with them, and they’re kind of gray.  After I took Tula back to the car, I set out for one more walk to see the headwaters again and to walk by the place with the swans, but it was almost dark and they must have settled in quietly for the night somewhere.

I had planned to stay in Bemidji tonight, but discovered all the motels were full – it turned out train crews and construction people were in town working on the railroad tracks. So I headed a little northeast to the town of Blackduck, where I found a cute little mom-and-pop motel called the Drake Motel, where I called it a day.

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