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Day 2: An Incredible Sidequest To The Source Of The Mississippi River

Day 2: An Incredible Sidequest To The Source Of The Mississippi River

Day 2 began in Rochester, Minnesota where I stayed at the Days Inn. Whatever. Next it was back to the Mississippi River at Lake City. The views there were pretty cool, but not so different really than the Hudson River.

Until I looked up…

Look, I get that for a lot of people in this country, bald eagles are just birds. But I’m from NEW JERSEY for God’s sake. It might as well have been pterodactyl. Supposedly there’s a bald eagle pair somewhere in the Meadowlands, but I sure don’t know anyone who has ever seen it. The only other time in my life that I ever saw a bald eagle (or any eagle I think) was actually in Canada with Ariel on our first ever trip together. That was awesome. But seeing a bald eagle IN AMERICA WHERE IT BELONGS was a really moving moment. It also was flying right over my head for a solid 20 minutes. I was transfixed. I mean they really are such graceful animals, you just need to look at one in flight for five seconds before it’s incredibly clear why they chose them as our national symbol.

After the eagle sighting I made my way up to Minneapolis. I didn’t stay long because……….I have very little patience for cities. We have New York City. That’s enough city for 100 lifetimes. While I was there, I stopped at Prime Deli for lunch. It’s a kosher restaurant that serves grass-fed beef. I’ve never had grass-fed beef.

Yes. More of this please.

It was amazing. In fact, I’ve never encountered a kosher restaurant that serves grass-fed beef so I HIGHLY recommend making the trip for this. I’m not saying I would fly again to Minneapolis just for the burger I had. But I would definitely think about it.

From Minneapolis it was a race against the setting sun to get to Lake Itasca State Park. Lake Itasca is the official designated headwaters of the Mississippi River. This is no joke. I’m talking about seeing the 2,500+ long river, which is ELEVEN MILES wide at its widest point, at it’s starting point.

“It ain’t exactly the Mississippi.” Actually, it is…

Which is all of 18 feet wide.

I mean, it’s really incredible. You can literally look at the lake and see where the river begins. I don’t know if there’s something like this for the Amazon or the Nile, but this was really an incredible sight.

This is it. The “infant” Mississippi River. Unreal.

Being that it was a Friday evening, that also meant I got to do my Shabbat ritual with my bread and wine (this time grape juice yuck). Saying kiddush (the Jewish prayer that welcomes the Sabbath), at the headwaters of one of the great rivers of the world – and doing the hand washing ritual AT THE SOURCE OF THE RIVER – is something I will have a hard time topping. Finding creative places to make kiddush is one of my ongoing quests so this was a big one for me.

One of the most spiritual places I’ve ever made Kiddush.

From the headwaters of the Mississippi, it was onward to Bemidji, Minnesota where they have a statue of Paul Bunyan (who is apparently a big deal in these parts) and Babe the Blue Ox.

It’s Paul Bunyan. And Babe. Wow.

They also have a real infestation of some awful flying insect.

And that was about all I could take for one day.

So far on this trip, I’ve knocked out the two remaining states I needed in the contiguous United States and got to see the source of the Mississippi River. Not bad. Today I’m heading to the northernmost point in those aforementioned Lower 48. That should be fun.

Stay tuned for more!