Sunday, June 9, 2013

The road back home

Big Sandy Lake, Minnesota (June 8, 2013)

Yesterday we drove back home. Rather than driving back to Duluth, and then Minneapolis to Ames on highway 35 (fast but boring), we took route 169 past Hibing, and them route 65 to Minneapolis. Route 65 is a nice two lanes highway crossing through open countryside bordering the meandering Mississippi river on one side, the usual sequence of lakes on the other.

Highway 35, Iowa
As it was getting warmer driving south, we looked for a stop along the river for Mayli to change into lighter clothes, driving on a narrow dirt road to a public access to the water. The fact that there was grass and dandelion flowers growing in the middle of the "road" should have given us a clue about how much this access road was in use. We did get at the river shore, but could not really stop there for even a minute: as soon as we opened the door of the car a thick swarm of mosquitoes charged to the assault, forcing us to a very rapid retreat, window and car roof still open to try to blow off the dozens of mosquitos that entered the car. I managed to briefly see the river, though, with its slow water the color of chocolate. We had then better luck with our next stop, at a large camping ground on the shores of the Big Sandy lake (photo above). The current lake is an artificial basin, created in 1859 by building a dam on the Sandy river. It originally had a lock, used to allow navigation to and from the Mississippi. In 1850 Sandy lake was the site of the death of hundreds of native americans of the Ojibwe tribe (the Sandy lake tragedy). Officials of the Minnesota territory sought to relocate the tribe from Wisconsin to territories west of Mississippi. To achieve this goal they delayed the payment of the annuity to the tribe, and moved it to a remote outpost in Sandy lake. This triggered a series of events that resulted in the death, by starvation, disease and freezing, of 12% of the tribe, mostly men. The tragedy spurred the resistance of the Ojibwe to the forced relocation, ultimately leading to the creation of a reservation in their traditional territory. A historical marker on the rest area along route 65 memorialize the event. We then restarted our drive, arriving in Ames when it was dark, and raining.

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