Wabasha, Minnesota
August 20, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

Four vehicles arrive at a four-way stop sign simultaneously. Each one wants to yield to the other. This is known as the “Minnesota Standoff.”

I decided to get a late start out of Wabasha so I could purchase some supplies and organize my gear. Good thing. At 8:30 in the morning, the rain and thunder arrived, and it lasted several hours. It was just the excuse I needed to take a zero day.

I had coffee at the Eagle’s Nest restaurant. I met several really nice patrons of the restaurant, and we had some good conversations. They were all interested in my trip. One of the patrons was the former Mayor of Wabasha. Another patron was Mike Smith, the Editor of the local newspaper-the Wabasha County Herald. He is doing a story on my journey. I will share the link with you when he sends it to me.

Mike recommended the Big River Resort motel, so I called the owner and reserved a room. At the end of the conversation the owner-Elaine-asked me “how much were you thinking about paying for the room?” How’s that for midwestern hospitality? I told Elaine I want to pay full fare. We settled on $89.

I visited the National Eagle Center, which has lots of information about the eagles that populate the River. The Center features live eagles, all rescued from illness or injury and unable to survive in the wild. The beautiful eagle in this post is Wakaska, an eagle that had a tumor which required the removal of his left eye, leaving him unable to hunt for food. Another eagle suffered a broken wing and could not fly. A third eagle was hit by a car. Eagles in the wild live 20-25 years. Those being cared for in centers like the National Eagle Center can live 35-40 years. My visit to the National Eagle Center was very interesting and informative.

The sun came out in the afternoon, making the rest of the day relaxing and enjoyable. I purchased the gear I needed at the local hardware store. On my walk back to Slippery’s for dinner, I met Preston Cook and his bulldog, Nigel.  Preston is famous in Wabasha for his philanthropic work. He is a successful real estate investor who has devoted his life to the study of eagles. He founded and supports the National Eagle Center. Preston and his wife, Donna, joined me for dinner.  What a wonderful couple. My dinner was an excellent Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Or, should I say a “Wabasha Cheesesteak sandwich”? While we were dining, my money shot of the trip came into view. A tugboat (known to locals as “tows”) was moving upstream, pushing over 14 barges. Each barge was 200 feet long and 35 feet wide.

This was my favorite day of the River journey. In fact, I think I want to retire in Wabasha.  But, wait: I’m already retired!

Thank you God for the early morning thunderstorm.

Lesson for the day: don’t hurry life.


Meet Wakaska

Mike Smith & Bill

Downtown Wabasha


Preston & Nigel

Preston, Donna & Bill at Slippery’s

Money shot of the day

Wabasha Cheesesteak