May 8, 2002

Yesterday morning, we got up quite late which meant a welcomed contrast to the days before, when we had to hurry up in the morning. We spent the first part of the day writing our journals and getting ready for meeting Joe Campbell at noon. Joe is a Native American and lives in the Dakota Indians’ Prairie Island Reservation. We met up with him at a huge casino that the Indians built in order to benefit financially from the extraordinary legal status of the reservation. He welcomed us and I immediately got a favorable impression of him. We had lunch with Joe in a restaurant that is part of the entire complex. We could (or had to) choose our food out of many alternatives. Joe immediately started talking about one of his biggest concerns, the nuclear power plant which is situated right beside the Indian reservation. He is a passionate foe of the plant. Thus he calls it "nuclear racism" that the authorities and the energy company decided to build the plant right next to the home of many Indians. Moreover, Joe participated in an international Anti-nuclear technology meeting in Kazackstahn. Just like John told us before, Joe Camppbell is the kind of man that sticks to one topic. His explanations were widely ranging from Indian spiritual traditions to nuclear power plants and neat streets in Kazackstahn. It was very interesting to listen to him but I personally wouldn’t say everything he says is right. You sort of have to filter it and it might become even more sensible and useful for your own life. After lunch, we drove to some old mounds in the reservation and Joe explained to us that his ancestors are lying under the mounds we were standing on. We also learned a great lesson about Indian medicine and spiritual traditions. Each one of us got a trifle of Indian tobacco. Joe doesn’t use that for smoking but for begging the ghosts to give him the permission to do certain things. We also got to know that there is a medicine man inside everyone. We all have the roots for developing internal and external intuition. According to our Indian friend, it’s a question of the transference of the cultural heritage. When a thunderstorm was coming up, we drove back to the casino. Joe still told us that the energy company has put containers full of nuclear waste just next to the houses of the Indians. Joe was really exasperated because the authorities and the company don’t care if the Indians take objection to that waste on their land.

In the late afternoon, I went to the local library with Hannah L. and Desmond. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet the woman I wanted to interview for my project but Desmond and Hannah took the opportunity to visit the Hamline web site. With the help of Ike, I found a store where I bought some nice postcards for my friends and relatives.

At about seven o’clock, we went to the YMCA of Red Wing to relax in the pool. It was really fun to play water volleyball and maybe we even would have been able to persuade Desmond to join us if we would have known that they have a very hot whirl-pool. This guy is just abysmally afraid of any coldness….

May 7, 2002

Yesterday morning, about nine o’clock, we welcomed Peggy and Desmond aboard. Peggy left after some minutes but Desmond is going to stay with us for the rest of the trip. We took John’s van and drove to the National Eagle Centre. A welcoming woman named Mary introduced us to the world of these majestic animals. We got to know that Eagles were endangered in the postwar times (after WW II) because of the agricultural use of poisonous chemicals. Fortunately, they succeeded in making Minnesota an attractive and comfortable home for eagles again. Some years ago, most of the injured eagles they found were wounded by human inventions, etc. Nowadays, the main reason for injuries is fights between eagles. This doesn’t mean that they have become cannibals but that there are so many eagles again that they have to defend their territory. She also showed us one of the eagles they captured because it was too weak to live independently . It had a really impressive, elegant appearance.

After our visit to the Eagle Centre, we went to the White Water River Valley. We met Dave Palmquist, a naturalist from the DNR. He introduced us to the special geological history of this part of MN. The bluffs were mostly spared by large glaciers. That is why the landscape developed differently to rest of MN. Dave also emphasized that the bluffs only represent 3 percent of the area but host 43 percent of the endangered species of the state. We went to one slope that was so steep that I first thought I wouldn’t make it. It was also pretty slippery but we eventually made it. At the top of the bluff, we sat down and Dave told us why they usually burn down the prairies. It’s because they want to eliminate the high plants in order to give the grass a chance to come up. The way down again looked even more scary but we also made this –there is always a wake to get down again- without problems, except for Hannah L. who wanted to be very fast and got faster than she wanted….eventually she slipped some meters.

Afterwards, we stocked up our supplies at a supermarket and I attained my first experiences in taking videos. That tape might become very valuable when I am famous…

In the evening, we watched a video made of a presentation and slide show given by Mike Davis. We originally intended to visit him but we decided not do so because it would mean 5 hours of driving. The presentation was about the development of the river, from its beginnings to its current status. It was quite interesting but I was just too tired…


May 6, 2002


Last evening, we had a discussion about next day’s schedule and we agreed to get up at 8.30 in the next morning. Indeed, we did get up at 6 o’clock…The weather forecast was quite bad and Ike wanted to get to our next stop, Red Wing, as soon as possible. Ike set-off with the Lilly Belle at 6.30. We (the rest of the crew) first went to have a very big breakfast. Afterwards, we drove to a canoe factory in Winona. Sitting in the car, we could already sense that the forecast was –to our delight- likely to be wrong. A young, likeable, guy showed us the manufacture halls. They are producing various types of canoes. That implies various ways of production and different materials. The boats he first showed us were produced within one day. Other ones, made of kevlar, which is also used for bullet-proof vests, need about one week till they are finished. One funny thing he also demonstrated is an advertisement project. For a brewery, they create a liquor-cooler, very stylish. The factory in entirety was very cool. The workers seemed to be mostly very comfortable with their job. Besides, they had speakers that played rock music...

After our visit to the factory, we went to a bluff in Winona. From that point, we could enjoy a great view of the whole scene. We stayed up there for approximately one hour and were relaxing. Meanwhile, it had gotten pretty warm. Then we went to a very old mill in Pickwick. One resident showed us the old machinery and we watched a movie about the historic building that was built in 1858 and is currently being restored. There were six levels, the mill had a quite nice smell in it. It was very interesting to read the short messages people had painted on the walls about 80 years ago.

After we left the mill of Pickwick, we drove to Stockholm, to Camp Pepin. There, we met some very kind guys. John had arranged for us the possibility to do a high ropes park. The two guys, named Clint and Tim, thoroughly explained everything to us. We really had to learn several commands. Maybe I first should explain what a high rope park is at all. Well, I also didn’t certainly know before. Its some high poles linked by cables at an altitude of apprx. 10 meters. Clint gave us the necessary equipment, a harness and some ropes with hooks. These were attached to a wire above our heads. Well-secured we started our adventure. It was really great! I was less afraid than I honestly expected to be. After some minutes you got used to the feeling but it was just so crazy! We had a camera in order to capture this event on video. John carried the cam…this we should regret soon for he was the first and only one to loose the fight against gravity and it would have been cool to take picture of him hanging on his security ropes. After one had passed all paths that were of different difficulty, there was the final take-off wire that was about 30 meters long. One just zipped down the line. It was quite fast…an awesome feeling.

After that great experience we got to Red Wing where Ike was already waiting for us. He told us he had a very good trip, he made about 5 miles/hour. We told him about the camp and decided to have dinner in town. So we went to some restaurant with a bar. One had to be 21 to get inside but we were accompanied by our father and grandfather; by John and Ike. I had a quite large pizza, I just hadn’t a clue what 14 inches mean when I ordered it. Well, I finally made it. At the moment, we are sitting in our cozy living room, writing our journals, completely content and very exhausted and tired as we haven’t been before on our trip………

May 5, 2002


This day started with really good weather. Its great to wake up and look through the window to the water that reflects the sunlight. We fast drove to Wabasha, our next stop. Hannah L. did her tests and I discussed with John about how to interview people. I prepared some questions that I would pose to people that might be interesting for my project since the interview with that captain on the day before hadn’t been that successful. When we arrived in Wabasha, we first walked through that small, old town. Then we went to John’s car and drove to the local sand dunes. That was really amazing for it did look completely different to the nature I had seen in Minnesota before. It looked like Arizona or another southern state like this. John showed some rare plants to us and we also found some cacti that one usually can’t find in Minnesota, as John explained. Afterwards we had an ice cream at dairy queen. When we were aboard again, we composed our journals for yesterday. I was sitting in the swing with Hannah S. and it was really sunny and warm. So Ike and John decided to grill in the evening. Our "barbecue party" with blues music hadn’t started yet when we saw a storm on the horizon. Well, we decided not to funk but permanently scanned the sky for any sinister cloud movements. Maybe because John sacrificed a bottle of olive oil to the god of water (it fell into the river), the weather spared us till we had finished dinner. At the moment, there is a storm rampaging outside. We can watch the lightning … and the uncomfortable conditions outside the boat make our current home appear even cozier than it already did.

May 4, 2002

Yesterday morning, I woke up to Ike’s bird that suddenly got very talkative at 6 o’clock, whereas we didn’t succeed in making him sing the afternoon before.

John told us about some people that were living on boathouses quite nearby.
In agreement, we decided to visit them with our canoe. At 11.30 am , our canoe hit the water and after some minutes we reached the peculiar settlement. We could see some of about 80 houses of odd, interesting architecture, floating on empty barrels on the Mississippi. Soon, we met one of the residents of Latch Island. Betsy was very friendly and inquired about our project. She seemed to be a kind of alternative but she isn’t perpetually living in her boathouse. She works for a computer company, so I guess she just uses her boathouse as a possibility to escape from the overcrowded, stressful cities. Another inhabitant of that floating village didn’t look that bohemian but was nevertheless very polite and told us about the battle that the boat people had to fight in order to prevent their houses from being destroyed by the government. That idea to live without electricity, almost independent of the civilization really captivated me. Maybe I’ll do something like this when I am retired….
After our fascinating canoe trip, we visited the history museum of Winona in order to find some information for my project. The museum was really interesting. Hannah S. captured the written explanations on video so I can read them thoroughly on the boat. Afterwards, we went to the local YMCA for a shower. That was really a kind of luxury for us for our hygiene facilities aboard are pretty limited.

At about 4 o’clock, we set-off with the Lilly-Belle. I spent the time on playing the guitar that belongs to Tracey. Well, it was really fun though I can barely play any songs but Hannah successfully transferred some bass songs to the guitar. To my surprise, we found out that a well-known German children song (Alle meine Entchen) resembles the Israeli anthem.
When we were looking for an appropriate docking place, we got stuck close to an isle. Ike gave us his orders and with united powers, Hannah S. and I made it to push the boat with poles back into deeper water. Eventually, we found a good place that was unfortunately closely situated to a railway. But it wasn’t the train that interrupted our deep, peaceful sleep at about 2 o’clock but a huge barge. It caused big waves that shocked the boat but it neither harmed our boat nor us…

May 3, 2002

Our first day on the Lilly Belle was great. Before we got aboard, there was a send-off ceremony. Many children from an elementary school gave us their best wishes for the trip. Then the Lilly Belle took to the water. The boat is so cool. Ike our captain, must be a kind of genius for he built that boat for himself, and he usually has an airplane on the barge that is pushed by the Lilly Belle. The interior is so cozy…we have two couches, sitting on these, you have a direct view of the water. I am sleeping in a very big, comfortable bed, the girls sleep in bunks. The weather is just beautiful, and of course I also already got sunburned…The scenery is fascinating, quite different from all those sights I’ve already seen. Our first stop was Winona, an old town that we visited in the evening. Today we are going to go to the History Museum in Winona in order to find some information for my project. Some minutes ago, we were visited by the author of a book about the steam boats on the Mississippi river. And I already feel that I am getting used to the feel of being on the water…


Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
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