Thursday, October 2, 2014

Walking in Long Prairie

Yesterday was a day for cleaning the parking garage in my building and we had to have our cars gone from 9 AM to 6 PM. So that seemed like a very good day to go for a walk in place that was a good distance from here. So that is why I chose to do the one in Long Prairie, MN.

I wanted to do this walk primarily so I could mark off Todd County is my Walking the Minnesota Counties book. It is named after John Blair Smith Todd who was a commander at Fort Ripley. (This is now called Camp Ripley and remains an active site for the training of National Guard, primarily from Minnesota but also for other states.) The route map says he was a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln, but this fact is not noted in the Minnesota Geographic Names book. 

Long Prairie began as an Indian agency town. It is named for the Long Prairie River which flows through it. And the above book says the name came from the long, narrow prairie about a mile wide and 20 miles long that borders the river.

I meant to leave home around 7 AM, but frittered away time until nearly 8 AM. It was slow going on the freeway at rush hour in a rain shower. Then in the northwest side of the Twin Cities area I hit a big slow-down on the freeway. I spent about 30 minutes going at the speedy rate of 5 miles an hour. An ambulance went by so I thought the problem was a traffic accident. But when I finally got to the end of it all the slow-down was because the right lane of the three lanes heading west was being shut down for the road construction project. I had planned to get gas along the way, and for a bit I began to worry that I would run out gas in the midst of all this, but I successfully got to a gas station!

So the promised drive of a bit over 2 hours actually took most of 3 hours. And the promised weather of low 60s and sun didn't come true. Instead the temperature was in the low 50s and no sun, only clouds.

This walk started from a Super 8 motel. Again the desk attendant knew exactly what I wanted. I was walker # 54. The walkers ahead of me were from Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Because I had a late and then slow drive and then had about 100 miles to drive to get back home, and because of the weather, I was interested in only the 5 K route. This did get me stamp, too, in my Lakes and Reservoir book, but other "things" I am collecting were on the second 5 K.

But within 5 minutes of walking I was the city water tower.

The rule for this is that one must be able to see the water tower from the route and I surely did. I went back at the end of the walk and stamped off my Water Towers book too.

I turned towards the west on a quiet residential street and soon discovered what I was sure was a community garden, gardens now clearly becoming dormant. .

And when I got to the end of the block I found I was indeed correct.

Near this corner I turned to the south to walk to Lake Charlotte. A bit of this walk was through a residential neighborhood and then onto a bike trail. 

This was such a pleasant walk.  As I progressed I realized part of it had been constructed just this year for there was bare ground on both sides of the path. 

It was nice to see the fall colors up close. 

Soon I was down to Lake Charlotte. 

This lake has a different appearance since there is wetland right along side with cattails and other plants. My names book says this lake is named for Charlotte O. Van Cleve. It further explains she came to Minnesota when she was a few weeks old. Her parents were attached to Fort Snelling and she continued to grow up on Army posts. She also married a military officer. The name book continues that as an adult she lived in both Long Prairie and Minneapolis and they she "was much loved." 

The walk took me by shelters, a bit of beach, a playground and finally to last shelter. Here I had to find who was remembered by this shelter -- a name to report as a "check point." 

From there I turned around and followed the bike trail back to the community garden. There I turned towards a walk way into Harmony Park. The route map said to admire the tile works. I had no idea what I was to find. 

First I found this planter. 

Below is a close up of some of the mosaic I found on this. 

I turned left to walk around a pond-- a sign at the start of the park called it an "existing pond." 

Then I found a long piece of tile works. 

Here is a close-up of the mosaic on this. 

 I particularly liked the baseball cap on the middle figure. 

A few steps more I found another planter. 

 If you look carefully you will see the piece of mosaic below says, "Walk with me." Seem highly appropriate! 
The trip home went much faster than the trip out. Got home at 4:30 and found I could still not enter the garage. Drove to park and hung out for awhile. Came back and still locked out. Went to buy some cough drops and drove around the garage and still locked out. Finally a few minutes after 6:00 I was able to park again. Glad to get this walk done and check off Todd County in my book. 


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