Day 400: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Port to Port: Fort Snelling Park to Watergate Marina
Underway: 8:23 am Motor Off: 12:51 pm Miles Traveled: 17 Stayed At: Marina
Mile 844 to Mile 845: After 6,714 miles, 170+ locks (we lost count), two countries, innumerable docktails, lots of new friends and an amazing number of sunsets and sunrises, we arrived back at our starting point at Watergate Marina in St. Paul, Minnesota. It will take a long time for this past year to sink in. It doesn’t’ seem real. When I go back and read a blog post from just a few days ago it seems like a dream. Did we really do that? But we had the time of our lives.
Even our last day on the water was a nice mini-adventure. We have always wanted to boat the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul but never took the trouble to trailer our boat to the river. We motored a short way down the Minnesota River and up past the marina all the way to downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota campus. We have spent a lot of time around this part of the river – both Cindy and I and both our daughters went to college at the U and Cindy worked there for 30+ years. The river didn’t disappoint. The fall colors were outstanding along this short stretch – the best of the whole trip – and, even though you are traveling through the center of a major metropolitan area, all you see are trees, cliffs and bridges for most of the journey. We also went through Lock #1 on the Mississippi. Now we can say we passed through every lock on the Mississippi between Minneapolis and the Ohio River.
Our personal Great Loop ended (way too soon) when we slowly motored into Watergate Marina 400 days after we started last fall. Lots of emotions were traveling through our brains – elation, relief, happiness, sadness, uncertainty, joy…- but we didn’t really have time to dwell on our feelings just yet. There was work to be done. We were having a little party with a few family and friends later in the evening and we are going to pull the boat out tomorrow so we had boat projects to get done. After kissing Boris for a job well done and getting checked in, we cleared the decks of unused dinghy’s, fenders and empty gas cans and starting scrubbing Aurora for the party (and to keep our minds busy). It was good therapy. After a couple hours of elbow grease and sweat (and some helpful chemicals), it was amazing, after living aboard her for 400 days, how pretty she looked in the bright fall sunshine. How can 32 year old fiberglass look so good? Aurora was ready to turn around and head south again. Hmmm?
We finished our projects in time to get ourselves cleaned up and relax for a few minutes before people started arriving. After hanging out at the boat until sunset, we moved the party up to the marina lounge – Todd, the manager, kindly kept it open for us way past closing time (he happened to have lived for many years just a couple miles past us in Mound) – and enjoyed pizza, beer and champagne with family and friends – our last official docktails. A nice ending to an amazing adventure.
We said our goodbyes and thank you’s and returned to the boat for our last night aboard. We slept like babies. Tomorrow, we start a whole new set of “to do lists” the first item of which will probably be, “now what to we do with the rest of our lives”?