Camping On The Mississippi

Jeffrey L Starr | Trembealeau, WI

In the 1980’s twenty five of my friends and I, camped out on a small island over Labor Day. We were the only people on the island. A few of my friends had boats, to bring us over and back. We fished, we swam, and we had huge bonfires. We had a small generator, watched a pre season Packer game, and had a stereo for music. Over half of us were/are Deadheads, so between the music, the stars, the river, and the camaraderie, it was the camping trip of a lifetime. I had never seen the Mississippi river, and thought it would be muddy, but there were sand bars, the water was clean. It is an experience everyone should be able to enjoy.
I have never seen that many stars, living in Milwaukee there are way too many lights to see the sky that clearly. Before leaving, we made sure that we left nothing behind, taking our garbage with us.

I can tell you about another river, I lived about 4 blocks from the Menomonee river in Wauwatosa, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. We used to play down there. On our side of the river, there were trails that ran about a mile, between two major roads. About midway between the roads was a clearing with what we called the stepping stones. A series of rocks that allowed us to cross, or we could ride our bikes through. On the other side was a path I was told used to be open so that cars could drive into the river and be washed. I am 63, when I was about 12, they removed the stones, and put up “Danger” signs, the river was so polluted it wasn’t safe to play in. Well , they stopped the factories upstream from dumping. A few miles downstream the water is deeper, and now 50 years later, you can see to the bottom again. That only happened because of serious regulations, and kids can safely play there again.

Well those are my stories, and why rivers matter to me.

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