Monday September 4, 2023 Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kent was spotted here picking out some new duds
One of the many mall rides
Sugar Factory Sundae Shop
Bubba Gump at the Shrimp Company

We had planned to take a pre-cruise extension to Itasca State Park, considered the confluence and beginning of the Mississippi River; however, there was not enough interest in the trip and it was cancelled. Here is some of the information I had gathered about the history of the park.
In 1832, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was led by Anishinabe guide Ozawindib to the source of the Mississippi River. It was on this journey that Schoolcraft, with the help of an educated missionary companion, created the name Itasca from the Latin words for “truth” and “head” by linking adjoining syllables: verITAS CAput, meaning “true head.” In the late 1800s, Jacob V. Brower, historian, anthropologist and land surveyor, came to the park region to settle the dispute of the actual location of the Mississippi Headwaters. Brower saw this region being quickly transformed by logging, and was determined to protect some of the pine forests for future generations. It was Brower’s tireless efforts to save the remaining pine forest surrounding Lake Itasca that led the state legislature to establish Itasca as a Minnesota state park on April 20, 1891. Through his conservation work and the continuing efforts of others throughout the decades, the splendor of Itasca has been maintained. The park has more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes. Here you can walk across the mighty Mississippi River at its confluence of rivers before it travels 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The park offers trails, a paddlewheel tour, campgrounds, and a 2,000-acre wilderness sanctuary.
The diversity of vegetation in the park supports many wildlife species. Birding is excellent and visitors are encouraged to help spot and record the bird life they see in the park. The local birds include loons, grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, vireos, tanagers, finches, and warblers. Wildlife found in the park include deer, chipmunks, squirrels, beaver, porcupine, black bears, and wolves.
We had planned to take a two-hour guided tour on the waters of Lake Itasca onboard the 141 passenger Chester Charles II Paddleboat. The boat tour follows the route of Ozawindib and Schoolcraft in 1832 when they recorded the headwaters of the Mississippi River. They were to show us about the local wildlife including the bald eagles, common Loons, Indian and logging history.
We used this day to return the car to the airport and return to our hotel by way of the hotel’s shuttle service. We spent more time exploring the Mall of America including having sundae’s for lunch at the Sugar Factory. Like so many places after the pandemic, the service was poor due to not having enough staff. I also found it odd that they served us our sundae’s in plastic cups with plastic silverware often used for take away orders, even though we were seated at the bar.
In the afternoon, we checked in for our river cruise at the hotel and received our cabin keys and vouchers for our tour of the twin cities tomorrow. The temperature outside was nearly 100 degrees so a good day to stay inside and relax before our cruise began.
For dinner we headed back to the mall and to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for some shrimp and onion rings. After dinner we walked a couple of laps around the mall to work off some of the calories.