Sunday, July 6, 2008


Yesterday we took a trip to Minnesota - East Grand Forks, Minnesota, specifically. Grand Forks, ND, and East Grand Forks, MN, seem like the same town, bisected by the "Red River of the North". In this case, though, the river is the state line.

We walked across the bridge to the Minnesota side for the "Cabela's experience". As they say on their website, it is "like no other retail store on earth!"

We have to agree. Where else can you find half a dozen different camoflage patterns? Here Odel is modeling oak leaves, attached to a mesh shell. You can barely see him, huh??

In many stores, we might feel a little self-conscious taking photos, but not in Cabela's. Even for outdoorspeople - hunters and fisherfolk - it is unusual to see a 7 foot tall bear snarling as you walk by (he couldn't see Odel in the camo jacket). Stuffed "trophy" animals of all kinds are displayed in a rock habitat at one end of the store - and not just their heads. A mountain lion snarls from a rock ledge, and two wolves attach a bison. Two bull moose are engaged in battle, while little ground animals watch.

Besides the stuffed mammals, several huge aquariums display the sorts of fish (live) that can be caught around here: yellow perch, bass (large- and small-mouthed), and walleye. Cabela's is quite educational for those of us who have extremely limited contact with hunters. There must be a huge market out there, 'cause this place is gigantic.

With our shopping at Cabela's completed (we bought a safe-and-natural mosquito repellant spray, a dangerous-death-chemical mosquito repellant spray, and a package of mosquito repellant incense sticks), we walked along the banks of the Red River of the North on the Minnesota side. This river flooded in 2000, a situation very similar to the hard-hit cities and towns in Iowa in the past few weeks. Homes and downtown businesses on both sides of the river were lost to the floods.

For future protection, both towns built "greenways" between their business districts and the river, resulting in a long, wide park with a walking/biking trail on both sides of the river. Grass covered levees provide extra height, and massive floodwalls, with gates that can be closed at both ends of the bridge, flank the levees. This picture shows the downtown side of the Grand Forks '(North Dakota) flood wall, running parallel to the river.

The resulting floodplain and protective wall have convinced businesses to rehab/rebuild the downtown with restaurants, pubs, bakeries, and independent, interesting downtown shops. A park overlooking the river is the site of a weekly farmers market (our real reason for a trip to Grand Forks yesterday). It looks like a success story.

Tomorrow we are leaving to travel further north, right up to the Canada/US border to visit Lake Metigoshe State Park. Once again, I will be surprised if we have internet access, so I may fall behind on the blog for a few days.

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