We’re sitting in a little cafe in Monticello, Minnesota. Kids are going from business to business trick-or-treating, yet another reminder that November is right around the corner. Not that we needed reminding. We paddled 26 miles (41kms) through a blizzard today – big, soft swirling snowflakes and freezing temperatures. At least we’re actually heading south now, gathering momentum. We can only hope that the current we had today (that carried our frozen souls downriver in record time) continues as we head south. We’ve portaged three dams in the past two days, and it seems the last one actually let some water through.
It was bizarre then, in the midst of this wintery, blustery day to dip our hands into river water as warm as soup. If it hadn’t spewed from a green-coloured waterfall, I would have wanted to take a dip – a midday hottub! But this was the second plant that we passed today. We’ve seen coal plants before, this one only identified itself as the “Monticello Plant” and gave us a sheriff’s warning against stopping anywhere near it.
This was the first plant we’ve seen with the prototypical spewing of wastewater into the river. As we found out later, it’s cooling water from the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant. The mist rising off the warmed water continued for miles.
Our plan is to spend the night here in a city park – unless someone we meet in a bar offers us a place to stay, as happened in Little Falls! We stopped in the Whiskey River Saloon after making dinner down by the river, and as we sat at the bar it wasn’t long before everyone in the joint knew our story. Eventually a very kind and friendly man came over to us and shook our hands. We talked for two or three minutes, and before we knew it, it was decided – we would stay at he and his wife, Charlotte’s, house for the night. And then another man came over, Darrell, a jolly elderly man (known locally as ‘The Can Man’ for his aluminum can recycling business) and offered to pick up our canoe and store it for the night. His little can-hauling contraption was parked outside. Soon, Tom, Darrell, and some other folks were helping us load up our canoe. We sat and drank wine with Tom and Charlotte for the evening, then the crew and some more friendly folks saw us over the dam in the morning. Wonderful people!!
We’re about to head back out into the cold – but in drier gear. We’re Minneapolis-bound!