Week One | Itasca to Grand Rapids: Relay of Voices revisits the first 150 miles

The first Relay Zoom Reunion went off well yesterday afternoon, the official one year anniversary of Relay’s launch at Itasca last year. We were virtually joined by good friends Brady Laudon of Bemidji, Sally Fineday of Cass Lake and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Sandy Bromenschenkel of the Deer River area, and Jonathan Schilling of the U of M Biological Field Station right there at Lake Itasca. While things didn’t go quite as planned, we improvised and adjusted to make things work with technical glitches and the schedules of our participants. All in all, we got to share so …

Lunch & Learn

A prelude to the Zoom Reunions—this “Lunch and Learn” presentation for MNDOT paved the way for Victoria and Tom to plan their virtual reunion tour down the river again.

DAY 120 (RE-POST).

DAY 120 (RE-POST). Harking back to November 5th, a relatively warm and sunny day at the Mouth of the Mississippi River with some of our newest and now nearest and dearest friends. Homeplace for so many of the people we met, up and down-river is the literal place they live—they have chosen to return, they have never left, they have adopted. Relay of Voices was my effort to run home, to understand homeplace as defined by and related to water, the river, the way of life around it. I found my homeplace, however, not just at the Mouth of the …

Relay of VoicesNovember 6, 2019 ·

On Day 120 (yesterday), we made it to the “end” — the “end of the world” some people say down here… first on foot to the last bit of land, the southernmost point of Louisiana, running our last several miles together over levee then road, accompanied by a heard of cattle the last quarter of a mile. Then we traversed the last 30 some odd miles by boat to the mouth of the river (https://www.google.com/…/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m…) with an amazing crew and a ship full of wonderful people, educating us on the land that has been lost, as well as the efforts …

DAY 119 – MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4

BURAS TO BOOTHVILLE/VENICE This is my last entry to write. Day 119 was the second to last day of our journey, but I was much more prompt in posting remarks on Day 120 back in November. I promise to refresh everyone’s memories after this goes up as well, just for closure. I promise the lag time in the last two weeks of posting—which ended up taking two months of writing—came not from laziness but from a different place of processing… Now back home in Minnesota, with time to digest and scour the full audio/video footage from each interaction, transcribing each …

DAY 118 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3

HOMEPLACE TO BURAS We ran from the Homeplace watertower to Fort Jackson, Louisiana. It was a breezy day again, but we soaked up the blue sky and sun. Knowing we’d be out on a boat all afternoon, we rode up Hwy 11 to Lucky Ryan Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine for a Bahn Mi before heading back to Patty’s Place to meet up with our guide Richie Blink. He was already waiting for us in the driveway as we pulled up, ready for us to hop in his truck and get over to the dock. Richie’s boat is something of a retro skiff—white …

DAY 117 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

West Pointe a la Hache to Homeplace (Over the Bridge) We came at Empire, Louisiana from the back side, driving from Patty’s Place B&B in Buras, Louisiana up Highway 11 and taking Rose Marie Drive through the shipyard right to Delta Marina. In the bait shop we asked for Mitch Jurisich, and the “Oyster King” as Albertine had called him came down to greet us. Mitch is part of a long-running Croatian history in these parts of Louisiana, in the oyster fishing parts in particular. His grandfather came from Yugoslavia (now Croatia) as an immigrant to work in oyster farms—he’d heard about how great America was, so …

DAY 117 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2

West Pointe a la Hache to Homeplace (Port Sulphur Detour) Cooler temps are hanging around along with a steady breeze. Today we ran the levee almost the entire way, running down the west side of the river from the ferry landing at West Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana and landing just south of Port Sulphur, Louisiana at the Homeplace water tower. Our first interaction of the day was with Brenda Hymes, who may be Port Sulphur’s biggest proponent. She grew up there, just a little ways down the highway from her current home. “When you passed the Subway, we lived like about a quarter …

DAY 116 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

CARLISLE TO POINTE A LA HACHE (MADERE MANOR) We did our best to finish the 44 oz. frozen daiquiris on the drive between Belle Chasse, Louisiana and Jesuit Bend, Louisiana. Later this will seem like a bad idea, but at this moment, it seemed more polite than to walk into James and Alora’s house holding Styrofoam cup containing a frozen beverage. We found the house as described, right along the highway, set back just a bit with a wrought iron fence. It’s long porch faces the side yard and stretches the length of the house, which is long, very long—turns out this house …

DAY 116 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1

CARLISLE TO POINTE A LA HACHE (JESUIT BEND DETOUR) We started the day in Belle Chasse, Louisiana one last time and took the ferry back over to the East Bank. It was a cold morning with temperatures in the 40s and a wind from the north. “Mammal hands” were the day’s fashion statement—socks pulled over the hands like mittens to keep warm. I ran the levee top for a while, but it wasn’t fit for running—no trail, just thick grass, so we found ourselves on the River Road. Thankfully there was not much traffic, but we did see a few pedestrians! As …