Saturday, October 31, 2015

Changing water levels on the Mississippi River

The falls on the north side of the Third Avene Bridge looked liked this on Monday, October 19th.  Pretty typical day.

A week later on the 26th it was like this.  No more water flowing over the concrete spillway.  That green slime looks nasty.  You can see the spikes poking out of the concrete on the left side that is preventing that giant tree from going over.  How many trees have to collect here before somebody moves those off?   That's not mother nature controlling the water flow.  What's going on upstream?  The Coon Rapids Dam is what's upstream.  The dam was just reopened in July of this year after two years of renovation.  The old rubber gates were replaced with steel gates.  It has been normal procedure to raise or lower the water levels of the pool above the dam each fall and spring so I can only assume that what I see here has something to do with that.  I should have gone out to look at my favorite trash picking spots to see what new stuff was exposed along the shore when the water was this low.

By the time I had the chance to do some trash picking the water levels had changed again. Yesterday I took a walk to survey my Mississippi Mile and see what's been going on.  Bassett Creek is now nice and full.

We are past the prime fall colors but I am still enjoying the leaves on the ground.  There were so many beer bottles and cans dumped just on the other side of this barrier and down the hill.  Oh, why do you people make it so difficult for me!  Ha, I got most of them anyways.

Some clean up at First Bridge Beach.  See that big chunk of stryofoam block.  I pick up a fair amount of marine styrofoam but this is the biggest piece I've found.  (Not good for birds and marine life)  One thing I noticed yesterday is that some of the trash cans along my mile are gone.  I get it.  Winter is coming and less park use.  It just makes it less convenient for me.  Water fountains are turned off and sealed up.

Time to head back home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Green Bricks

This morning I was working a new little spit on the river that I will now name Green's Point.  I found this brick.  The name stamp is nice and readable.  So who is A.P. Green and what became of his empire? A.P. (Allen Percival) was the owner of Green Fire Brick Company in Mexico, Missouri, maker of the world's best fire brick.  He is long dead (b 1875) and things were going well until we find out later that what makes those bricks fire retardant was the asbestos that was added.  Things went south from there and the company went bankrupt after finding it difficult to keep up with all the lawsuits and payments.


I don't know much about asbestos.  Is there asbestos in that brick or is it safe to use if you wanted to add it to your patio?  I didn't bring it up.  I think I've seen others like this one along the river but can't be sure.

Green's Point is just south of the railroad bridge. I had to scramble down the hill and there were a few too many shrub branches poking at me that made it less than comfortable. I try to be careful with those pointy shrub branches and wear my sunglasses.  A month or so ago I scratched my cornea on a shrub branch after reaching for an empty water bottle.  Two doctors visits and putting goop in my eye for 2 weeks taught me to be more careful.  But it's clean now so I have no reason to go back.

More brick trash.  Kind of looks cool.

All in an hour's work.

Come home with me my new little friend.

In the Water

There are some interesting things in the water between the Hennepin Bridge and the Third Avenue Bridge.

The old Hennepin Steel Arch Bridge over the Mississippi was demolished 25 years ago.  I can't say that I remember this event and I don't know how they demolished it or what was done with it but probably some of what I see in the river is left over from that event.  Does it matter that it is in the river or should it be cleaned up?  If it is steel, does it have some value to be recycled?  Does it harm anything to just leave it be?

The fish don't seem to mind.

I think that is a lid from a Park and Rec trash barrel

Missing Park bench?  Yes, definitely.

The shoreline in this area still needs to be cleaned up.  It is a thirty foot drop from the top of the retaining wall.  There is absolutely no way to get down there without either a canoe or an industrial ladder.  Get on it City of Minneapolis!  This is a prime tourist walking area.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Working the Snag

I was working "The Snag" this morning.  That's a spot on the south end of Middle Beach with some big downed trees where trash collects after spring flooding.

I found the usual stuff plus that odd bulbous looking plastic thing in the center of the photo.  It was stuck pretty tight under a log in the water.  It's got a tube running out of the bottom end of the thing.  Medical device of some sort?

There is plenty of stuff that is trapped under all the tree debris.

I can see why someone threw this shirt out.  I looks too much like old prison issue.

I often find old metal things that have been trashed in the river.  It's too heavy to bring up and I'm pretty sure Park and Rec don't want it in their trash can.

It's not everything but it's a start.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's Burning?

A couple of weeks back I was walking north of the Plymouth bridge along the park path and was struck by the thought that all the trash in this area is just waiting to wash into downtown Minneapolis next spring.  It will flood and when it does this will all end up in one of those litter snags downtown.

The mile long stretch of beach between the Plymouth Bridge and the Broadway Bridge has plenty of trash but it is quite easy to get to.  No fallen trees to climb over.  No ravines to climb into.  So I walked up there today and started working.

The wild asters are still looking good even though it has gotten pretty cold.

I found a big black bag to use.  That's an old fire extinguisher on top.  I picked up the usual stuff plus one flip flop and one child's snow shoe.  Occasionally I find hypodermic needles on the beach and there was one there today.

People do make fires along the river.  Those aren't cigars in that fire pit. I met a guy about a month ago at the grand opening of the Mississippi Watershed Stormwater Park.  He told me that sometimes people who want to extract the copper from wire (or whatever) will burn the plastic (or insulation?) in fire pits along the river and then cool it in the water.  I probably have the details wrong but pollution is the result.

There was a lot of weird looking stuff around and in the fire pit.

Sometimes I find things that I like to keep.  I'm up to about $1.85 now for my efforts.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ganesh is Gone

The first thing I noticed this morning when I started my walk was that the corner by the Post Office on Hennepin and First St. now has a trash can.  I wrote about that spot on a prior blog and I expect that it may be just a happy bit of coincidence or maybe someone actually read what I wrote.  Either way, I am grateful. The area around the bus stop was noticeably cleaner.  I looked in the trash can and saw it had about a foot of trash.  We'll see over the next few weeks if that corner stays cleaner.  I was on vacation all last week and eating too much at the breakfast buffet so I really needed to walk a little longer today.  I grabbed about three bags of trash at Bassett Creek.  I tried to pry loose the car tire that is stuck in the mud down there.  Not going to happen.  I'm not sure what I would do with it anyway.  Later I went back under the Hennepin Bridge to finish what I had started there.  The water levels are low but I still had to hop over some open water spots along the wall to get under the bridge.  There was the usual litter plus a pink statue of the Hindu god Ganesh.  I thought I would keep it so I laid it very carefully on the top of my bag.  (My camera was home because the battery was dead.)  When I hopped across the rocks to the other side Ganesh was gone.  I guess he jumped out and went back under the bridge.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

End of the Season

Pondering the last six months of trash picking.
   Love nature, get some exercise, soak up the vitamin D.

See something fun.

See something unfortunate.

Look a little closer at things.

Watch water levels change.

Reaching a goal.

And finally, finding another giant litter snag.
Can I get to that before winter?  Absolutely!