A lifetime of travel and hours spent reading the exploits of courageous explorers have instilled in me an appreciation for geographic milestones – like walking across the Mississippi River, without a bridge.
As every traveler knows, a visit to Kenya and a Serengeti safari are all about “The Big Five” in their natural habitat. But for me, the trip wasn’t complete until I had straddled the equator. And years ago when we moved to London, once the boxes were unpacked, I simply had to visit Greenwich, a map-lovers Mecca and home of the Prime Meridian, where I could plant a foot in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
I’ve traveled around the world twice, lived at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, been on most of the continents … and the continental divide.
And over these years of wandering, I’ve developed a weakness for any sign that says, “tallest, biggest, most ___________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes I feel like John Travolta’s character in the movie Michael, when a cross-country trip was planned to pass by gems of Roadside Americana like the world’s biggest ball of twine.
Given my predilections, it came as no surprise to Terri when I suggested a detour to the source of the Mississippi River on Lake Itasca, in the boonies of north central Minnesota. Because reading that I could walk across the “Father of Rivers” sealed the deal.
For many travelers, the river is nothing more than a big, brown strip of water snaking beneath the interstate. But it only takes a bit of research to discover a long list of superlatives: it’s 2500 miles long; the 3rd largest drainage basin in the world; and 2 miles wide at its widest navigable point.
It was America’s first interstate highway, had cut-throat pirates, and flowed backwards during the pioneer-startling New Madrid earthquake.
Recently I stood at the opposite end of the river gazing across “The Mighty Mississippi” from the levee at Jackson Square in New Orleans. It was an impressive and tranquil scene, and I thought “I walked across this river when it was a trickle.” Amazing!
Have a geographic milestone? We’d love to hear about it.