Living as close as we do to the mighty Mississippi River, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to pilot a boat pushing barges on the river or captain a steamboat in years gone by. But since those things are never going to happen I decided to at least attempt a canoe trip.

Our friends Rex and Jaci Hale own a home on the Mississippi River in Brooklyn Park. (OK, it's not really ON the river, but the back yard tumbles right down to the bank.) I thought "Wouldn't it be cool to canoe from their house to ours?" We don't live right on the river of course, but there's a dock at the Minneapolis Rowing Club that's only a few blocks away.

The trip would involve a stretch of the river that is upstream of the portion navigable by barges, a trip past Nicollet Island and downtown Minneapolis, free rides through not one but TWO locks run by the Army Corps of Engineers (your tax dollars at work), passage under the historic James J. Hill Stone Arch Bridge, floating past the University of Minnesota, and arriving at the Minneapolis Rowing Club just North of Lake Street Bridge.

So on September 23, nine of us set out in 4 canoes on our adventure. As it turned out this was one of the chilliest days to this point in the season, and the sky was overcast. The first task was to get the canoes down the steep bank in Rex's back yard. Fortunately for us he recently installed an extensive set of steps down the bank, twisting and turning past the trees to reach his dock. But of course the dock was high and dry, several yards from the water's edge as the water level is fairly low. The first part of the river was shallow enough that we had to steer through the rocks, with only one canoe managing to get stuck. As the day went on the wind built up, but fortunately it was at our backs.

It took a bit longer than we expected to get to downtown, including lunch as we floated along and a potty break on the bank. The trip through the locks was pretty cool, but a canoe is a pretty small craft compared to the barges that normally traverse the locks. And the 50 foot walls towering on either side made it feel like we were at the bottom of a canyon as we paddled out.

As you can see in some of the pictures, we wore hats and gloves to keep warm. A little bit of hot chocolate also helped. The total distance that we covered is about 13 1/2 miles, which took us about 5 hours. (Longer than we had planned, but a good time anyway.)

Who knows, maybe this was the "first Annual" Mississippi Canoe excursion!




Gathering before the trip - 9 brave souls on an overcast morning


The sky looks cold and menacing as we approach downtown Minneapolis


Judy and Chris float past the old Gain Belt Beer sign near the Hennepin Avenue bridge

After going along with me to borrow the canoe, Tahlia was pretty excited to get out there and try it herself. The day after our trip on the Mississippi (which she didn't go along on) I took her out on Lake Nokomis for a little paddling around. She really loved it!


Tahlia goes for a canoe trip on Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis


Return to Simon Family Home Page

Return to Family Pictures Page

Updated 06OCT00 CHS