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Published: July 25th 2018
Prairie Waters Region, Montevideo, Minnesota
We stayed one more day in Southwestern Minnesota because Joan had one more thing (I call them rebellion items) she wanted to see. At this point, though, as tired as we both are and as overwhelmed by everything we’ve seen, I’m not sure either one of us really had our hearts into this day.
The original idea Joan had was to drive up to the Marsh Lake area, known as the Prairie Waters Region, rent a canoe and maybe do some paddling around some of the marshes and streams. She had read an interesting article about the area in our travel magazine and it appealed to her. One of the lakes in the area serves as a bird wildlife refuge. In fact it is, reportedly, the largest pelican rookery in North America.
So, yeah, it all sounded good on paper. But things didn’t reach their full level of expectation. We discussed on the drive down from Voyageurs how her shoulder was doing and whether she was up for more canoeing. I also interjected that, unless it had a seat I could put my fat ass on, that my knees would likely give way
after about ten minutes of kneeling in a standard canoe. So the canoe quickly fell by the wayside.
(Oh, and did I mention that we are tired...)
So we next considered a small hike near the lake. But the forecast in the area here was for temps in the low 80s with minimal cloud cover. A hike was sounding less and less appealing.
(Oh, and did I mention that we are dead tired...)
So next, we talked about whether we should even go up there at all given that we weren’t up for much. But, I argued, we had already dedicated the day and it was something she was interested in so of course we had to go up there and see what we could see. So the plan was made to drive up to Marsh Lake, and search around for birds, hopefully pelicans!
We headed out first to Marshall, and then more or less due north another hour or so up to Montevideo and then Appleton. The drive ended up being a bit more than I expected, taking about an hour and a half.
Once there we searched for some kind of brown sign that might indicate a wildlife refuge of some sort. Unfortunately, none appeared. Joan was starting to get more than a little frustrated, and her phone doesn’t work so well, so I googled up Marsh Lake and said it was just six miles away, let’s see what Google does for us, and off we went.
(Oh, and did I mention that we are dead tired and cranky...)
After a couple miles we were instructed to turn on 250th avenue, which was a one-lane dirt road. Having a LandCruiser makes things like this very easy to do, so off we went down the road. Finally we could see the lake a little ways ahead but, wait a minute, we are fast approaching someone’s farm house. In fact, there’s the open door on the barn and, hello, here’s the farmhouse dog greeting us. Oops! Carefully I turn around in their driveway and backtrack a couple of hundred feet.
There is a sign, lying on the ground, indicating this was a boat launching area for Lake Marsh. We took the turn and drove another hundred feet, got out of the car, and surveyed the area. It was clear that no-one had used this spot as a boat launch for quite some time. And why would they, the lake was a putrid green color, obviously full of algae.
(Oh, and did I mention that we are dead tired, cranky, and now pissed...)
Back in the car, we retraced our mileage back to the highway. I got this idea that maybe we should locate the dam and see if there was anything interesting there. So, trusting Google, I got directions to the damn dam, which took us down another series of dirt roads. Near where the damn dam was supposed to be damning, we run into a ‘Road Closed’ sign saying the entire lake was closed due to an ‘environmental restoration project’ - whatever that means. At this point, Joan throws up her hands and says she is done, and we should just go get lunch and a couple of beers.
(Oh, and did I mention that we are dead tired, cranky, pissed, and now completely defeated!)
So we head back to the highway. But, maybe to spite us or maybe to just save our day from being a complete disaster, we see up in the air, a series of white blobs dancing and flowing with the wind. Looking a little closer, we see that these UFOs are birds. There are several dozen of them and they seem to be flying in flocks of six or eight that flow into each other creating larger flocks for brief moments. It was almost like a dance in the air.
These are large birds but me, being the learned bird expert that I am, haven’t the faintest idea what they are. We stop the car and Joan gets out, locates the binoculars in the back (my Christmas present last year), and begins to study them. She isn’t sure because she can’t get a clear view of their beaks, but the necks, body, and legs sure look like pelicans! We watch them fly, soar, and glide for maybe fifteen minutes and it was delightful.
Maybe they were the pelicans Joan wanted to see in the first place, maybe not. But, anyway, we drove off for lunch and a couple of beers.
We are still dead tired, cranky, pissed, and defeated. But some days are made for Michelob.
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