Is this the last gasp of summer?

Classes start next week. I should be working away at prepping for them, but tomorrow I join our Bridge to Biology Program and accompany a mob of incoming students to the Itasca Field Station. It’s not just for the students that I’m going; I’ve lived in Minnesota for 13 years and this is the first time I’ll have visited the headwaters of the Mississippi (yeah, it’s our river, downstreamers: we get to pee in it first).

All summer long I’ve been indoors, in this nice shiny air-conditioned building, so it’s going to be a shock. I hear there is deadly radiation sleeting out of the sky that can incinerate my skin, and swarms of flesh-eating, blood-sucking arthropods that will try to devour me, and that when it gets hot out you just have to carry out filthy biological functions like sweating to cool off. I’ll try to survive and get back by Sunday.

Wait…there’s wifi at the field station, right? It couldn’t possibly be so barbarous that I’ll be offline for a weekend? Whew, just checked — they’ve got wireless and a T1 connection to the main campus. Crisis averted. I guess I can go after all.

I’ll post pictures.


  1. blf says

    swarms of flesh-eating, blood-sucking arthropods that will try to devour me

    Gee, those grad students sound polite and restrained…

  2. ludicrous says

    Walked across the Mississippi up there in 1947 at a Catholic Youth camp. No wifi, no phone. Had radio though, some copper wire, a crystal, a cat’s whisker, and some old earphones.

    I think you’ll like the place.

  3. zekehoskin says

    The real Mississippi headwaters are actually in Northern Ontario since those people in Chicago dug a canal to drain Lake Erie into the other watershed. Though there’s also a case for a bunch of streams in the Rocky Mountain foothills. That river contains multitudes.

  4. jaredcormier says

    About this:

    yeah, it’s our river, downstreamers: we get to pee in it first

    It’s not the pee I mind, it’s the tons the farm-related anhydrous ammonia…

  5. Rey Fox says

    The Missouri is the longest waterway in the Mississippi drainage, the Ohio carries the most water. Lake Itasca is only the source of the Mississippi because some dude hundreds of years ago said so.

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    it’s the tons the farm-related anhydrous ammonia…

    Hmm…something tells me it is hydrated long before reaching the river….

  7. qwerty says

    Have fun tiptoeing across the not so mighty Mississippi as it trickles out of Lake Itasca. I remember crossing it as a kid. And the students won’t get wet as there are plenty of rocks to step on.

  8. robb says

    of course it is the end of the summer. the MN state fair started today. my classes start up in a couple weeks but until saturday i am in SC enjoying the beach. no blood sucking arthropods here, but i did run into a 4 inch grasshopper today and two alligators yesterday. the grasshopper was much more fearless.

  9. Crudely Wrott says

    PZ and Zedehoskin, you’re both downstramers.

    I have peed in the outlet of Wind River Lake, source of the Wind River in NW Wyoming. It runs SE then turns N to flow through Wind River canyon where it carves its way through two billion year old rock.
    Exiting the canyon it is the Big Horn which continues NE into Montana to feed the Yellowstone. The Yellowstone has almost seven hundred un-dammed miles of flow, longest in the nation.
    Still trending NE, the Yellowstone finally joins the Little Missouri River in North Dakota a little west of Lake Sakakawea. At the lower end of the lake it becomes the (Big) Missouri and then south to the Mississippi and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Check your maps, guys, You’ll find it’s pretty hard to pee upstream of me!

  10. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Summer doesn’t “gasp.” It’s just reloading.[/California]

  11. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Pee streamers having a peeing contest over who is most upstream. Armed with geographic and geological weaponry.

    I love this place!

    By the way, the real headwaters of the Mississippi are in the sky. Including water vapor evaporated from the Mississippi itself. Which is like one of those sex-and-grandparents time travel paradoxes.