Wow, I can't believe that the week is finally over. After the most incredible reception at the Dakota school we all piled into the van and said our goodbyes. It was really sad. When we arrived at the school, we were greeted by 95 kindergarten through fifth graders cheering wildly, waiting to meet us. They had written songs about us, had actions, and their little eyes were so exciting to see. I felt like a movie star. It was wonderful!
Due to the absence of the leader of station #2, Max, Martina and I led songs. It was so much fun. I love to lead songs! They seemed to really like our station. The rest of the group(Sara, Robbie, and Dan) lead another group in answering questions and watching the first movie that we had made. It is still my favorite, and I will never get tired of it.
We then listened to a speaker, ate Ice Cream sandwiches, helped the kids get on the buses, and then were recorded doing a shoutout to the Winona television station. It was fun.
The week has gone by so fast, and I will miss everyone so much. I gained so many new friendships that I hope will continue for a long time to come. The expereinces that I gained are something that I hold close to my heart, and yet I am very excited to teach people about what I have learned.
People need to learn that they need to respect the river in ways that they may not have thought about before. By continuing to dump trash and oils and to dredge the river and make channels and dams, we are hurting the river, and thus hurting ourselves. Everything was put onto this planet for a reason, and when we destroy that thing, we end up hurting ourselves too.
This trip was a great way to meet people from a whole new culture. Having Sara and Martina on the trip helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the fact that this is happeneing everywhere, not just the Mississippi. It was also a great way for me to learn things about new people. I love to meet new people as it is, and the fact that they come from half-way around the world just fascinates me.
Robbie, although we did not always get along (or so I thought), was a great pal and a fun tease. He enjoyed the fact that I did not like snakes, and was always willing to poke fun at me. I will miss him. Max, he was always so outgoing and ready for a new idea. Even when he was having difficulties, he always had a smile on his face and his trusty hat on his head. Dan. What to say about Dan. He was like a brother to me. So quiet, so studious, and yet always ready for whatever may come his way. He was always looking for adventure and fun.
I will miss all of these people immensly, but I know that a part of them will always be with me in the memories that I have of them. By the way, I can still out eat any of you guys! Just challenge me!
I hope that many more students get to share in the wonderful experiences that I did this week, and that each student enjoys it as much as I did. So long Camp Pepin and the Mississippi! I will be back soon!
I am buff! Today was another good day. I have grown fairly close to. We went canoeing today along the Root River. Due to the flood, a large portion of the riverbank had been swept away, and the current was fast, so it was fun to explore the damage that the flood had caused and see how the river had changed because of the flood. I was in a canoe with John again, and I learned a whole bunch of cool tricks, that I will get to perfect on my Boundary Waters trip this summer.
The first trick that I learned was called "peeling out". It is where you find an eddy, go with it, then lean and the person in the front of the canoe quickly draws. You are able to make yourself spin around quickly, and it is quite a thrill. The other thing that I learned was how to "surf a wave". Again, you find an eddy. You then find the biggest current, and go directly downstream of it. When you position yourself correctly, you are able to balance without moving for a while. This is called "surfing", and it is really fun. The only problem is that if you are not an experienced canoe-er, you are likely to tip. So don't try that at home unless you are with an adult.
Everything was going fine, until Robbie decided to be a brat and get me all wet. Robbie is mean. John was also mean, because one time, he turned the canoe, just at the moment that Robbie splashed. I was soaked. The trip was supposed to take between 4-6 hours, but due to our unbounded strength and energy, we finished in less than 2 hours.
We then piled into the van again, and as we were driving away, we found a levee that bad broken over a hay field. It was incredible to see the amount of sand that poured over the field. We then got in the car yet again, and drove to Winona. I got to go to the library and pick up my English assignment that is due on Friday. We then went to the Pickwick Mill and took a tour of its history. Read Robbie's journal if you want to learn more about it.
We came to the cabin and ate dinner. I had to go do my interview, which will be on our final video. I think that it went OK. Now, we are going to have a final recap session that discusses our feelings about the week. I can't believe that we are done tomorrow. I will miss all these people so much. When I first agreed to the trip, it was supposed to be on a boat traveling up the Mississippi. By the time that the trip began, instead we were at a camp, in an area that I have been to a lot before. That was somewhat disappointing for me, but the experiences that I have gained will help me in the long run.
I can't wait to tell people my stories, and help them gain a deeper understanding of the river as I have this week. We have never stopped learning, and the history that I have learned, and the things that I have done will never be forgotten. Only one more journal entry left, and then you guys are done with me! Bye-Bye!
Chopsticks are hard to use, but I (Robbie) finally figured out how to do it at dinner. Well today was all in all a pretty good day. Robbie keeps making fun of me, because he thinks that all of my journals start out the same.
We got to sleep in until about 8:30, and I lounged in my pajamas until about 9:30. I had cinnamon toast for breakfast, and Martina and Sara were not impressed. They thought that it was gross that I would eat something that sweet for breakfast, but then I guess that I was having issues with Sara eating a salami and cheddar sandwich at 8:45 in the morning. I just can't do it. So anyway, we lounged for a while, and Martina French braided my hair.
Then Max and I took a walk, and went to talk to people for our projects. We talked to some people on Deer Island (between Stockholm and Pepin). One lady even asked if Max and I were going out. We both looked at each other and laughed. We also talked to an old lady who was the president of the Citizens for a Clean Mississippi. It was very cool, and we learned a lot about the lawsuit regarding the Mississippi and the drainage of sewage. We got to see original court files.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Martina and Robbie got interviewed for the newest version of our movie. It will not be available on the web until we get home, but y'all should be sure to watch it when it gets posted. It is so cool. We then came home and ate lunch. We then went back outside and decided to work on a service project, helping flood victims clean up their homes and yards. It was so rewarding, seeing how much these people needed and appreciated our help.
We came back to the cabin, copied our video, and raced out to Red Wing. When I say that we raced, I am not kidding you. We were driving at 70 miles an hour around the curves, and 80 on the straight-aways. It was very exciting. We got to the UPS station at 6:02, and they kept it open for us. It was quite thrilling. We then went to the library, where I was able to check my email for the first time. By the way, Mom and Dad, thank you for scanning the sheet. I will send it back to you on Friday morning.
I also received 52 emails, of which about half were actually important or handwritten. So to all my friend (Keely, Rafi, Liz, Marlo, Cynthia, Marissa, and everyone else who are too numerous to mention, but I am thinking of you all, keep those emails coming. It makes me feel special! We left the library, and went to dinner at a place called Golden China. It was ok, and we got a ton of food. Y'all should know that I like food a lot, and will eat as much of it as is offered to me. Robbie loves Martina!
So anyway, as we were there, we were under a tornado warning, and the sirens went off. In Germany, they do not have tornadoes, so both Sara and Martina were very scared. It was very funny, but it also reminded me of the storm of 1999, so I was able to understand why it might have been scary for someone who had never experienced that before. The lightening was beautiful.
On the way back to the cabin, the rain and the fog was so bad that we could hardly see where we were going. Now we are back in the cabin writing our journals and watching a movie called "The Dakota Conflict". It is kinda boring, but it is funny to watch Robbie with his oral fixation. He always has something in his mouth, whether it is a piece of gum or a toothpick or a piece of grass or other random objects. It is just amusing. Well, that was our day. I think that I am gonna go and find me's some more food. Talk to you later!
May 8- Ok I am starting my journal early in the day so that I can remember everything that I want to and I don't forget anything. I was thinking as we drove back to the cabin today how much this trip has made me realize what is being done to our environment. When I left for this trip, I thought that I would be getting a week off of school and get a chance to relax and meet new people. I have gotten a chance to meet new people, but my learning is not limited to the hours of 7:30-2:00. Instead, I am constantly learning the entire time that I am awake.
Last night, after writing my daily journal and eating dinner, we went down to the beach to help clean up some of the remnants of the flood. There is an exceptional amount of debris that is left over, and that is something that I had never considered before. I had never given it much thought, but when I did, I couldn't understand why a flood was so devastating. You are able to see it first-hand when you are here.
This morning, we went to the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area. We hiked up a bluff. And when I say that we hiked a better word to use would be we climbed. It was straight up. In using vertical feet (and this is my educated guess) it was over 150 feet. I also decided that the slope that we climbed was about a 70-degree slope (and for once I am not exaggerating).
We saw about six snakes (much to my dismay, this brought the count to a grand total of 11), and then the guide today, David Palmquist, brought us a timber rattlesnake to show us. Martina loved the snakes, and had fun catching them and then holding them in her hand. She was also trying to see how close she could get to the rattlesnake. She is crazy! Robbie let her put the snake in his hair. It was gross.
David talked to us about how the blufflands of south-eastern Minnesota contain some very rare species of animals and plant life. Specifically, he talked about the algific talus slopes, which he compared to the permafrost in Alaska. These are bluffs that have water flowing over them, and thus freeze in the winter. The water permeates the rock, and the summer sun is not able to melt it. These environments occur at the food of a cave, and many rare types of animals live there. He especially talked about the Leedy Roseroot plant, and the Ice-age Snails. These snails are about 1/16 of an inch in length, and as I am sure you can gather from the name, are from the ice age.
He also talked about how to burn forests to promote good growth and a natural habitat. We then came back to the cabin for lunch and decided to go canoeing. The neighbor hood is still underwater in areas, so we paddled around for a while. John and I were in a canoe, Dan and Robbie were in a canoe, Martina and Erika, and then Sara and Max. They did not have very much experience canoeing, so they had a tendency to go in circles and go backwards when they wanted to go forward. We then docked the canoes, and went to talk to the neighbors in the area that had been most affected by the floods. Tomorrow I think that we will be helping to clean up. Yippee!
After a dinner of tacos, we went to the challenge course. It was a high ropes course that was located 30 feet above the ground. I started out scared, but it was just increased when I had problems crossing a 15 foot section called the hourglass. If you can imagine that turned sidways, somewhat like and x with a third diagonal rope, that is what it was. It was very difficult to cross, and Martina and Robbie who were not afraid were having problems crossing it. I thought that I would conquer my fears by crossing it, but instead I got half-way across, and was not able to move because I was so scared. It was not a good feeling at all, because even though I was strapped in, I still felt very vunerable, and it was not good at all.
I sat there for about 5 minutes, just sitting there. It was awful.. I felt like I was two. Robbie surprised me with his encouragment. At first, I didn't think that he liked me very much, but I have come to the realization that we just have very different personalities and that we don't know how to deal with each other. We have also been very sarcastic with each other, and so I was not sure if I could honestly trust him. Thus, when I got up to the ropes course and got scared, I was surprised when Robbie was the first person to give me encouragment. It was a good experience though, overall.
We then went down to the beach and had a bonfire and played Chubby Bunny. Robbie was again funny (he is constantly making me laugh or surprising). He thought that you could fit at least between 10-12 marshmallows in his mouth. Guess how many he got?! 5 marshmallows. Guess how many I got ?! 4! I didn't beat him,but I came close enough to give him a scare. Sara and Martina had never tasted marshmallows before. It was quite an experience for them. Sara liked them burnt, but Martina did not like them. Now we are back in the cabin getting ready for bed, and trying to finish our journals for the day.
Blah blah blah blah. (Robbie's input) Today was my favorite day so far on this trip. We met with a man named Mike Davis. He worked for the DNR, and was very knowledgeable in the landscapes of the Weaver Bottoms area. We first went to the DNR office and listened to a presentation on the river's history, the ecosystems, and its present state.
It was so weird to hear what major companies are trying to do. They want to expand the dams so that more barge traffic can go through more quickly, but this would increase the blockage of silt and nutrients continuing their journey downstream, They would like to increase the barge traffic to increase corn productivity, but the land is not able to support more agriculture. The corn that is shipped on the rivers is grown within 100 miles of the river, and all of this land is already being used for agriculture as it is. The only way that farmers would be able to increase productivity would be to use genetically modified corn, which other countries will not buy. Thus, there becomes no need to increase productivity.
We also learned about how the barges turbines throw up silt, so the clarity of the water significantly decreases. Thus, aquatic vegetation is hindered, and the amount of open water increases. Thus, when floods occur, the impact is much greater then when all of the marsh and wetlands existed.
We went up to the sand dunes and we posed for pictures in a field of purple flowers. We then hiked through the woods and saw the remnants of a deer. All that was left if him was the fur, the tail, an ear, the spine and the pelvic area. Robbie, Martina and Dan found the leg of the deer farther down the path. We then went to an area that had Prickly Pear Cacti. It was so weird seeing cacti in Minnesota.
We then went grocery shopping and got 3 bags of marshmallows to play "Chubby Bunny". Tonight should be interesting. Last night, we had a conversation in German for over an hour. (Aren't you proud of us, Mrs. Grotewold?) It was fun because I understood a lot of what Max, Martina, and Sara were talking about. I even talked for a while. It was cool, because I finally got to practice my German with people who are native to the land, and they could teach me specific pronunciations, etc.
We (meaning Peggy and John) finished the new movie. It is so cool. The technology that we have around here continues to amaze me. Each of us has our own laptop ( iBooks), and I have become kind of attached to mine. I will not be happy when I have to give it back. We also have 4 digital cameras, 3 video cameras, and enough software to make and edit our own video. It is so cool. (Mom and Dad, we will have to work on acquiring some of this equipment for us!)
The water is declining so fast that we don't even have to drive through any when we leave the camp. It is disappointing, because there is no adventure anymore. Robbie and Martina are so funny. They totally have been flirting the entire week. So much in fact, that they are having a staring contests right now. So if either Robbie's girlfriend or Martina's boyfriend are reading this…Sorry guys! They are in love! Ok, back to the day, not much happened. We were going to go canoeing, but it started to rain, and the wind is really strong. Tonight we are going to have a campfire and barbecue. Time for dinner! Ta-ta!
May 6, 2001
Today was a good day, but I feel like I didn't do a whole lot. We got up at 7:00 to a beautiful sunrise. It was clear and the sky was bright blue, so we decided to continue with our original plan of biking. It was a lot of fun and the bikes were brand new taken right off of the showroom floor. We were off, and all was good until Max fell off his bike. How does he manage to be so accident-prone? We have only had two minor injuries on this trip, and they have both involved Max.
Yesterday, after our hike on Barn Bluff, we climbed on top of the water treatment plant (Liz-that was also illegal) and we were taking pictures and walking around. We tried to pull Max up onto the top of it, and his legs fell out from under him. We then dropped him, and he went rolling down the hill, and hurt his knee. Then today he was biking, and his front tire slipped into the soft shoulder, and he went rolling down into the hill yet again, repeating yesterday and hurting the same knee. If this continues, he will be a cripple by the end of the week.
I have given him a new nickname in honor of all his injuries. He is now "Gimp Zazu". I also forgot yesterday to tell you that John's nickname is "Smetterling Morpho"(which means butterfly in German). Peggy's nickname is Clover, because she once found 22 4-leafed clovers. Pam left us today, with the nickname "Heidi", because her hair was in braids the other day. Ericka arrived, and I have given her the nickname "Ms. Cheery", but we will have to see if she can live up to that.
Anyways, back to the bike ride, we biked from Cannon Falls to the town of Welch(population 50). We stopped at the Trout Scream Café, and got something to drink. We then biked back to Cannon Falls, where we met Peggy with the van. We went to a park to eat lunch, and it started to rain. The weather gods we looking down upon us!
We went back to Red Wing, planning on having a scavenger hunt this afternoon and hanging out. We all fell asleep though in the car, so we decided to come back to the cabin. I fell asleep for 3 hours!! That is a long time to be asleep. It was loud in our cabin too, and I never heard anything. I am afraid that the boys are going to use this to their advantage and do something mean to the girls. We do not have a door to our room, because we are living in the loft, so we are an easy target for them. They didn't trust us last night, so they got tolock their door. We aren't so lucky.
We ate dinner of leftovers and Pokemon macaroni and cheese. It was quality. We played a few card games, and now are editing out newest video. We had to do a sound recording of our new favorite song, "Eisgekuhlt Bommerlunder". (Keely, ask me to teach it to you when I get home, and it can be the new DuNord favorite. And by the way, how was the 40th anniversary?) I hope that it turns out ok. When we post it, be sure to watch it. Well, I am gonna go play Spit, and kick Robbie's butt. Talk to you later!
Today, although it started out in not a good way, turned out to be a lot of fun. We (meaning the girls) stayed up too late last night talking. We got up early to get ready for the say, and then to set up for our streaming broadcast. We got out of the door with plenty of time to spare. We realized that we had forgotten something, so when we arrived at the town of Stockholm (population 89), John let us out of the car and we could walk around while he went back to the cabin to pick up what we had forgotten.
Max and I decided to continue work on our project, so we went into a place called Stephoreos Boutique. We asked some ladies if they would be willing to talk to us for a while, and they said that they would, but that we should come back later in the afternoon for an interview with Ollie (we didn't know who Ollie was at the time).
We then continued on our journey and went to the Red Wing Technical College. We were supposed to be doing a streaming webcast of our trip so far, and displaying the movie that we made last night. By the way, it is super cool and I would recommend seeing it. After three hours of card playing while John and Peggy tried to set up the electronic equipment to no avail, we decided to give up and eat lunch.
We then went on a hike to Barn Bluff. It is really pretty, even thought the day was not very nice out. We were all kinda tired after that, so we decided to come back to the cabin, but we made another stop in Stockholm on the way back. Max and I decided that we should go back to Stephoreos boutique, so that is exactly what we did. This time though, Ollie and another man named Steve were there. They had both been commercial fisherman and clammers in their younger days, and had lived in Stockholm their entire life. They spent a great deal of time talking to us, and we got some cool digital shots of them with Max.
We then decided to come back to the cabin where we sat around for a while. We made dinner and then watched a movie called Flood. It was about the great flood in 1993. I think that the more that I spend time talking to people and observing the river, I have gained a much better understanding of what really happens when the river floods. I have never really given it much thought as to why a flood can be so destructive, but seeing the houses that reek of river water and seeing all the debris that is left when the river recedes has made this all very clear to me.
After the movie, we were all rested up, so we got into a pillow fight. It was boys against girls, and of course the girls kicked the boys butts. That was about the end of the night, except for the fact that each member of our group now has a nickname. We will see how long these last. My name is Piepsy(German , but it is pronounced peepsy). Max's name is Zazu, from the LION KING, because he acts like the bird. Robbie's name is Floufy(because of his hair). Martina is Tinus, Sara is Schnully(a baby pacifier), and Dan is Shaka Love(as in "shock of love", Marissa, don't be mad, it just fits!) After running around, we all got tired very quickly, and decided to go to bed early, and that is where we are now. Guten Nacht!
May 4, 2001
Today was a very fun day. Even though we started on our journey a little after 8 (supposed departure time) we got in the van, after having some issues getting all of our stuff to fit. We stopped in Hastings at Professor Java's Coffee House. Max and I decided to get a head start on our project.
We talked to a group of local business owners, nicknamed the Round Table Group, about the river, the way that they work with the river, and how the flood is affecting them. We got a bunch of great stuff for our project. We then walked down along the riverbank where Max and I illegally broke into a blocked off area. We wanted to get "just the right picture" of the river flooding. Hopefully, these will turn out, or else we might just be in trouble with the law.
We then continued on to Prairie Island, where we met Joe Campbell. He was a Native American man who lived on the reservation. He was a very dynamic speaker. He talked to us about how he had come to find his identity. He talked about how we must all share our belongings. We can not claim anything such as the land for any one person. It belongs to the world.
Another thing that he talked about was how each thing influences another. He told us the story of his life and how he retired at age 40 to find a better life and to do something that he felt was important wit his life. He is now working for himself as a speaker on the history of the dakota people, and choosing his destiny. He then accompanied us to lunch at the casino on the reservation.
I got the nickname of "the snake", because I eat one large meal a day. I don't think that I am going to be able to get rid of that nickname for a while. Oh well! After a very filling lunch ( 4 trips and 8 plates later…) where I out-ate everyone, we piled in the van again and continued on our trip to Red Wing. We then got out to go grocery shopping and then we arrived at camp.
I think that getting in was the most exciting thing that I have done in a while. There was over a foot of water on the road, but we decided to risk it and drive across. We created a huge number of waves as we powered across the road. Just as we thought that we were through with the water, we turned a corner, and thus had to continue through. As we were coming to the end, we saw a huge pile of debris that we had to traverse across before we could get to the camp. Finally, we were through! It was very exhilirating! We arrived at camp to a beautiful cabin right on the lake. I think that I will never leave! Rafi, you will have to come and steal me away if you ever want to see me again. I am not planning on leaving!
Yesterday was an amazing day. The presentation at St. Anthony Falls was very informative, and I was able to learn thing that I have not ever heard of. Pat Nunally (our tour guide) was so patient and was able to answer any questions that we possibly could have had. It was so much fun when the group started to talk.
I really like everyone on the trip, and it is so nice to know that we will all get along. As we first started, no one was talking and I was really nervous that it was going to be a long week. The only two people that knew each other were Max and I. As the day progressed, we all started to "bond". By the end of the day, we were able to converse freely. By the time that we had t go home for the night, I was disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to spend the night with my new found friends.
The tour at Fort Snelling was the most informative that I have ever had there. I have gone there for many years with School groups, and never learned as much as I did yesterday. I learned that the fort was actively occupied up until 1975. The part that most affected me yesterday was when we were at the federal reserve building. There is a series of 5 tablets that demonstrated the changes that occurred between the years of 1805 up to the present day.
Earlier in the day at St. Anthony Falls, we had discussed a series of axioms. The one that meant the most to me was the last one. It was, " in some instances, we need to control nature, even though we can not do so." When I first heard this, I strongly disagreed, but decided to keep my mouth shut due to the fact that no one else was talking either. As we were looking at the tablets, I was finally able to see how necessary the river is in each of our lives, and how it has shaped the communities that we live in today. I could see that it was an important thing in my life even though I have never considered it in this way.
for Global Environmental Education