Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Father Hennepin Bluffs Park

Yesterday was one of those top ten weather days.  Early November and it's t-shirt weather outside.  We walked across the river over to Father Hennepin Bluffs Park. It's 5.5 acres of park along the bluff as well as down along the river.  There are some pretty rickety old wooden steps that take you down the bluff to the lower trail.

There would normally be more water down here, but that just gave us an opportunity to explore.  All the old mill ruins are now a graffiti playground.  This park is pretty much neglected. There is plenty of trash to be picked up.  Will do that some other time.

Urban Grotto

Ghetto Protected.  Nice angel.

See that yellow guy?  That image is all over town including a new red one that is along River Road on the downtown side of the river.  He gets around.

That's the Pillsbury's Best Flour sign on top of the old mill buildings.  It was refurbished in the last year and finally relit in the last week.  Workers were down in the lower trail area working on the hydro project that will power the A-Mill building which has been turned into artist lofts.

Good time to explore.  Thanks for leaving the ladder.

What's behind that door?

At the south end of the park you can stand on the shore directly under the Stonearch Bridge.  It's a hot mess of graffiti down there.  Across on the downtown side I could see that this area looked like it had been recently painted which is why I wanted to see for myself.

That barrel should be recycled.


                      I did find a nice covered bench to admire the view of downtown.

You will be okay.  Just don't use the south end steps to go back up the bluff from here.  There is a five foot gap about half way up.  Better to bushwhack it up the hill and through the woods or go back through the park.  Didn't intend to keep walking after Father Hennepin Park, but it was just so nice out.  We decided to walk towards the U of M since we had never done that on the east side of the river.  We got distracted by a path off in the woods.

It's a graffiti playground down in that pit.  Nice view of downtown from here.

Looks like sometimes this pit is home for some folks.

Looking back to where we have been.  The bike path is right off to the left so you don't have to walk on the track if you don't want to.  There is a graffiti culture over here both on the outside and inside of the railroad cars. This area looks like homeless folks are finding shelter here too.

Rainy nights, in my lonesome.

Sluto, I've seen your work elsewhere.  Nicely done.

Take me home.  Yes, time to head back home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mississippi Meringue

More about that walk yesterday.  As you can see, I'm downstream from downtown Minneapolis.  I'm on that stretch of river between the two locks.  I saw a lot of whitish brown goop floating on the river. Looks like meringue topping on a pie.  Mississippi Meringue.  That's what I'll call it. I have no idea what that stuff is, chemically speaking.  I know I may pick up trash, but what's really important is the quality of the water itself. Can we swim in it, can we eat the fish from it, how are the fish and wildlife doing?  What do we need to do better?

You can get some of those answers in the State of the River publication that is a joint effort of the National Park Service and the Friends of the Mississippi.  It's available on the web at  
I'm going to get through that whole report at some point.

I was following a trash pool that was floating upstream when I noticed the pill container (far left).  I can see it is still full.  Not surprisingly, I pick up quite a few pill containers out of the river, but this one is out of my reach. Page 42 of the State of the River addresses the problem of pharmaceuticals going in the river. Basically don't throw your left over drugs down the drain or in the toilet.  Our treatment plant is not designed to treat for those.  Crush them up and put them in some dirt or cat litter or coffee grounds and seal them in a bag?  That's what I've heard, but are there better methods.  Ideally if there were a place to take them to like a Target Pharmacy for a take back program that would be even better. Here is what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommends.

Floating on top of that nice thick green carpet is a bottle with something inside.  Is that another message in a bottle for me?  Out of reach.  I'll check back in the future and see if it's washed closer to shore.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Living on the River Part 2

I had seen this spot near downtown before.  There is a lot of garbage here.  I hauled out some of the stuff on the bottom a month or so ago.  I had been wondering what was on top of the cliff. This is what I came across this morning.

 This is just part of what I found.  Are there folks living here?  I can't imagine there are, but yes I think there might be.  So what is the next step?

Living on the River Part 1

I've come across some unexpected things in the last 6 months on my walks along the Mississippi River.   I have some rules that I go by now. The first one is don't be here alone.  Be safe.  Second is if it looks like someone is coming back don't disturb their stuff however much it looks like trash.  I don't know what issues this person suffers from (alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness), but they don't need me making it worse. This is a photo taken in the summer. I hope this guy has found other shelter because it's now getting colder with every passing day.  If this spot were closer to my home I would probably go back here periodically to see if it was "abandoned" to do some pick up.

This sleeping bag floating downstream last April should have been my first clue about people living along the Mississippi River in camps.  I was never able to retrieve this out of the water.

I have picked up a lot of clothes since I've been doing this.  At first I was disturbed when I would find clothes along the river because it feels, well creepy and I worried that something sinister was going on.  I think the truth is that when a person who is homeless has to carry possessions they just naturally lighten their load.  Used clothing is cheap and easy to replace.  The Salvation Army downtown sells clothes priced by the pound.

Backpacks.  I see these all the time. If they are empty, dirty, falling apart, I will dispose of them.