Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mushroom Hunt

Got an early start on my walk this morning before the heat gets too uncomfortable.  Started at the Hennepin Avenue Bridge.  Party under the bridge last night.  Beer cans and other trash.  Check.  Continue on past Mill Ruins Park and down to the lower lock and damn.  I have not picked up trash down by the lower lock and dam before so there was plenty of stuff waiting.  I found several patches of interesting looking mushrooms. Leave those be!  The usual litter of plastic water bottles and discarded packaging along the road and hillside were just waiting to get blown into the river.  I picked up two Starbuck Frappaccino bottles and one of those plastic bottles of 5 Hour Energy.  (You people should have had enough energy to pick up everything in the area.)

Some other variety of mushroom

Lower Lock and Dam on the Mississippi looking at the Highway 35 bridge
Back up the path to the Gold Medal Flour building and ready to get home

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

High Water

 The river is definitely up in downtown Minneapolis after the last rains.  Previously, much of this stretch of the river walk had 10 to 12 feet of exposed shoreline.  The drop from the guard rail to the shore makes it almost impossible to pick up trash without using a canoe.  I don't have a canoe. I had thought about getting one of those 96" extending pole grabbers from Home Depot.  Or maybe a rope ladder that I could hook onto the guard rail so I could climb down.  OK, I'm not really going to do that.

Before the recent rains the shore looked more like this. That Reddi Wip can has been the bane of my existence for the last two months.  Hopefully some of this stuff has washed further down stream where other folks can pick it up.   The Friends of the Mississippi River organization are hosting a clean up day on May 30th in Hastings at a spot where trash is known to pool.

There's a red lawn chair, a beer holder and a baseball cap down there and probably a good story to go with them. Hopefully, all of it is on its way to Hastings.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Inside the Third Avenue Bridge

The Third Avenue Bridge is a beautiful S shaped bridge from 1918 that connects downtown with St. Anthony Main.  It was repaired in 1980 and needs more work again. Concrete has chipped away in unsightly patches and graffiti ruins the grace of the old bridge. When I have walked by the base of the bridge on the St. Anthony Main side I've noticed the scattered trash inside that first section of the bridge.
That little fence is not much of a barrier to this section of the bridge. I have wondered about what was inside other than trash. 
There is some interesting stencil work on the near wall but not much else that is worth viewing.  There are 3 to 4 bags of trash inside that space.  I picked up one bag.  The rest can be another walk.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Side trip inside the storm drain

Oh no he didn't!

Before I get to the storm drain, I'll start at the beginning.  We took the light rail from the government station downtown Minneapolis to the 46th Street stop and walked to the sign that says "You are Here" in Minnehaha Park.  It was too early for lunch otherwise I would have stopped at Sea Salt in the Park and had some peel and eat shrimp and a beer.
                                    The West River Parkway has great bike and pedestrian paths.
                 But if you want to be closer to nature you should take the more rugged 2.5 mile Winchell Trail.
You'll get some great views of the Mississippi River Gorge.  What's that little cave over there?

 I didn't pick up any trash today even though I saw a few things along the trail.  This was my day off and I didn't bring a bag.  I saw a few styrofoam cups floating down river (probably from downtown) and the usual small items like candy wrappers and Swisher cigar wrappers.
                     I don't know if this beach has a name. That's the Lake Street Bridge in the distance.
                                 And finally we arrive at that storm drain.


Ok, that's far enough buddy!
Get me out of here!

If you continue walking along the river you come to the University of St. Thomas Rowing facility.  We took the path that leads up to the top of the Lake Street Bridge. The graffiti on the bridge does nothing to add to the beauty of the river so it really doesn't belong there.  Tough time getting it off of there though.  Time for a walking break and a little lunch at the Longfellow Grill. Yum.  The veggie sandwich with pickled red onions is fantastic.

Back out on our walk.  The view of the Mississippi from the Short Line Bridge.

Back down to the Winchell Trail and a little more nature before returning to the city.  The trail comes up again at Franklin Avenue.  From there it's a short walk to the west bank of the U of M.  One could continue walking into downtown, but instead we saw this and drove it home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sewers, storm drains and underground Minneapolis

This is how one of the many storm drains in downtown looked several weeks ago when I snapped this photo. It's probably gone now after the rain we just had.  Gone down somewhere into one of our mysterious underground sewer and storm drain systems.  I prefer to stay right up on top of the city streets but there is a whole world underneath us in the city.  For an interesting but claustrophobic read I recommend this:


Bassett Creek

When I first started walking down to the old conduit to Bassett Creek in April you couldn't help but notice how much trash was there and it's just not that easy to clean it up.  I was there again yesterday to take a photo. What a difference a week makes (and a little rain)!  It's looking pretty great. I like it here because it feels like a little wilderness in the city. Bassett Creek starts out at Medicine Lake in Plymouth some 12 miles away. On the other side of downtown the creek goes underground for a mile and a half before it ends up here and emptying into the Mississippi River.  I don't have a canoe and I'm not interested in exploring places like this but some folks have.
 In the early 90's the creek was diverted and another tunnel takes water out closer to St. Anthony Falls.  The old conduit takes the overflow from storms.  So I assume the latest storms we just had flushed the water and trash from the outlet and into the Mississippi.

 Yes, that's probably some of the old water bottles I wanted to get out of the creek but couldn't reach them.  See you in Iowa.  Water bottles make up a big portion of what I find so it's no wonder some communities want to ban them.

Some of that creek trash landed here on one the most accessible spots on the river walk.  Perfect. I call this Debbie Duncan beach because she played here (jazz) last summer on National Night Out and she was awesome.  So this beach should be awesome too.  Some of the water bottles I pulled out here were all duct taped together like a little raft.  Interesting.
At the end of the walk I was one glove short!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

River Road Mystery Machine

This week I finally brought up the rest of that mystery machine that had been resting on a path near where Bassett Creek empties out into the Mississippi River.  What is this thing.?

Mill Ruins Park Before and After

This spot at Mill Ruins Park is clean!  No idea what happened.  Did Park and Rec get over here in the last week?  Or, perhaps this is just the result of Mother Nature and last Sunday's rain that washed this area clean.  If that's the case then this litter is a little further down river perhaps in a more convenient place to be picked up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brown's Creek Trail

View of the creek from the trail
I was out in Stillwater for Mother's Day weekend and had the chance to walk the new Brown's Creek Trail.  It starts at the old train depot and follows the St. Croix River north for the first mile before crossing highway 95.  At that point the trail turns west and follows Brown's Creek.  It's really lovely out there. The trail is situated on an old railroad bed so it's level and easy to walk.
Trash heap off the trail
About a mile and half into the trail we noticed a heap of trash off to the side.  According to the DNR, their property runs about 100 feet wide starting at the middle of the path.  They are in the process of cleaning up the trash along the trail so I guess this heap is just waiting to be collected.  I bet they found some interesting stuff.
Trash on the hills
Everything else out there is private property.  There are homes up there on top of this ravine and years of trash that has been pitched down the hill.  It is weird to think that folks used to get rid of their unwanted items in this way.  Now it's an eyesore.  Is there a city ordinance prohibiting this?  I left a message with the city. Now that the trail is open I'm pretty sure others have noticed and complained.  Do they need help cleaning it up?  Could they get volunteers out there?  We just picked up trash along the flat sections of the trail and I'll have to be happy doing just that.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fall Risk

I walked my usual mile long stretch of River Road yesterday afternoon.  I was surprised at how much new litter showed up on my walk.  Some of the old plastic bottles I found on my favorite beach looked like they had just washed up from the hail storm we had on Sunday.  It's great when some of that junk is washed out of inaccessible areas along the river so it can be retrieved. Let's have another good storm! The dozen or so liquor bottles, pill containers, and the Hennepin County Hospital patient bracelets I picked up are just a reminder that life is difficult for some.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Walk to Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Wildflowers in Eloise Butler Garden
Our goal yesterday was to walk (mostly) to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden from downtown Minneapolis.  By car on the freeway it is about 4.5 miles. We started on the free bus that got us through downtown to the Loring Park greenway.  Loring Park was beautiful and early morning dog walkers and joggers were out.  We crossed under highway 94 on Hennepin Avenue.  That underpass needs cleaning from stray cans and bottles and abandoned clothing and blankets that litter the area.
Cedar Lake Bike and Walking Path
It doesn't take long to get to the Cedar Lake bike path that parallels highway 394.  It is really a bike freeway that is used by bike commuters getting to work in downtown.  When you're traveling by bike you might not have a chance to notice just how much litter is down there.  The area behind Dunwoody College of Technology where 94 and 394 cross is particularly bad.  I wouldn't be caught walking through there after dark.
There's a lot of trash down there!
We crossed the pedestrian bridge over to Bryn Mawr Meadow Park and walked the trail that follows Bassett Creek.  
Past the railroad tracks and homes we came across the Fruen/ConAgra building.  An eyesore for most and a graffiti icon for others.  Site of accidents and death for adventurers trying to explore it.  There is talk of tearing it down and the possiblity of a micro brewery and restaurant replacing it. And finally we arrived at Theodore Wirth Park and a lovely walk through the woods to get to the Elosie Butler Wildflower Gardens.
                                          There are some interesting trees in the park.

 Some folks forgot to read the sign on the entrance to the garden.  So close to the trash can.  Couldn't be bothered?  This was the only trash I picked up today.

See you later, Eloise.  No, we didn't walk home.  We found a Car2Go and drove back!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Walk along Minnehaha Creek

Last Thursday we had beautiful weather and a fine walk along Minnehaha Creek starting from the Light Rail Station on 46th and walking as far as Nicollet Avenue.  Some of this stretch was new for us.  We usually walk from Nicollet to Lake Harriett and back.  I didn't even think about bringing a bag to collect trash along the way.  It has always seemed relatively trash free.  I probably could have picked up enough trash to fill up a small Target bag.  There was the occasional water bottle cast aside and a few candy wrappers. This part of the creek seems to be well maintained.  So I was surprised to see a tire out in the creek just west of the Highway 35 bridge.
If the Park and Rec folks don't take care of this I hope someone will be able to remove this tire on the official Minnehaha Creek clean up day on July 26th.  That is a chance for volunteers to get together and work along the creek as well as clean up the Lake Hiawatha and Lake Nokomis areas too.  Volunteers get treated to beer and barbecue after they work.  What a deal.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mill Ruins Park

Beautiful night for a walk.  I didn't expect to see much trash on this walk but I brought a bag anyway.  I knew that the folks from the Earth Day group had done some of this area.  Just down from some pretty pricey condos, the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum, the Mill Ruins Park is a favorite spot for taking prom, wedding, and graduation photos.  There were prom kids down there tonight in beautiful dresses and tuxes against the backdrop of the Stonearch Bridge.  If you go just a few feet further down to the end of the park you would find this cesspool.  I don't know whose responsibility it is to clean up areas like this but I think one of those swimming pool hand skimmers on a pole would be useful here.