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Monday, May 28, 2012


On Thursday we drove up to Elkader in Clayton County. "They named the new village Elkader after Abd el-Kader, a young Algerian hero who led his people in a resistance to French colonialism between 1830 and 1847." This is in the driftless or unglaciated region that extends across the common corners of Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and which has a pre-Ice Age geology and topography. To visit these landscapes is to go back in time. At the Motor Mill Historic Site on the Turkey River we met up with about 75 others for a grand weekend of canoeing and carrying on. This was the 43rd annual M-Day gathering, the fourth that A&D have attended, and my first.

Friday we canoed a gorgeous stretch of the nearby trout-bearing Yellow River, a pool and drop series of Class I/II rapids. We made dozens of bald eagle sightings along the way, many as close as 50-100 feet when we paddled beneath branches where they were roosting. We saw a mid-flight mating ritual of aerobatic prowess.

Friday night and into Saturday morning there was a storm of nearly continuous lightning and thunder, with a big blow at the end that eventually collapsed my tent and others and damaged some of the tarps and shelters over the dining stations. But it was warm and everyone good natured and within a couple hours the camp was back to normal (a relative term for this group).

Fireflies and bonfires, and away from the fire very dark skies with myriad stars.

We canoed the Turkey on Saturday and Sunday, and made our way home today past rural and small town cemeteries decorated and well-visited on this Memorial Day.

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