Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Goin’ to the lake June 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Boat, 1 ahead on I-94


TRAVELING TO CENTRAL and northern Minnesota on a summer weekend, motorists expect heavy traffic as folks head to lake cabins and resorts. It’s a given. Campers, trucks pulling boats and loaded-down vehicles cram roadways. Ditto for the return trip home Sunday afternoon.


Boat, 5 pulled along I-94


Even knowing this, I did not expect to see a semi truck transporting an oversized boat along Interstate 94 between Monticello and Clearwater on Saturday morning. As traffic slowed in both lanes, my husband and I wondered if we’d encounter an accident, road construction or what.


Boat, 7 close-up of along I-94


And then, as speeds picked up again, we saw the or what—the ginormous boat carried by the semi.

That led to speculation: What lake in central/northern Minnesota can handle a boat of this size? How will the owner get this boat into a lake? And what is the value of this boat?


Boat, 9 along I-94 in side mirror


Randy, who grew up in central Minnesota, unlike me a native of (mostly) lake-less southwestern Minnesota, speculated on Gull Lake near Brainerd as the boat’s destination. Right or wrong, we’ll never know. We lost track of the watercraft after sneaking ahead of the boat-towing-semi just before it crossed the Mississippi River bridge at Clearwater.

IF YOU’RE A MINNESOTAN, I’d like to hear a story about driving north on a summer weekend. If you’re not from Minnesota, tell me about traffic in your state on the weekends, perhaps areas you avoid or wish you could avoid.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Goin’ to the lake”

  1. Big boat! yea #94 wrong road to Superior, maybe going to Seattle ? We passed 4 large Hydroplanes on semi’s in the middle of N.Dakota heading west long ago, I wondered about that too.
    Enjoy your trip. I sure do miss living up there & remodeling cottages all summer long on Mille Lacs 🙂

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Not a boat person here! A friend had a boat of similar size last year…..on the Mississippi. Each gas fill was just under $1,000!!!!! Boats of this size are commonly seen at the docks in Afton (MN). Loved the few times I was on Lake Minnetonka in a very large sail boat…..silence except for the sounds of the rushing water going by and the breeze filled canvas sails that were overhead. Wonderful!!!!!

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    The largest traffic we have in this area is during fall foliage (leaf peeping) and currently when the Brevard Music Festival is going on for six weeks. Our little town is always bustling but even more so during these times. However it is very doable and you just add a few minutes to your commute instead of hours. Traffic on the interstates is another story. 🙂

    • A six-week music festival? That’s a long-term event.

      It sounds like Brevard is a tourist draw. I bet the fall colors are spectacular. I thought the same driving through upstate New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    I miss heading up North periodically in the warmer months, but I do not miss the traffic. I94 out of the metro can be a nightmare. I would cross over to Hwy 10 @ Clearwater. Hwy 10 wasn’t much better. Traffic did not subside until the 10/371 split by Little Falls. I’ve spent many hours on those stretches of roadway.

    • It’s best to avoid I94 on Friday and Sunday afternoons in the summer, or perhaps anytime. But mostly not practical and possible. Highway 10 isn’t much better. You’re right.

      My husband grew up in central Minnesota, so we have done this trip often to visit family. We often comment about how traffic volume has increased substantially through the decades. Years ago we’d get around by Albertville (or even before then) and there would be little traffic. If only that was still the case.

  5. Headed up North while growing up and into my late-20’s – Brainerd area (my in-laws Summer up there – escape the 100+ temps in Phoenix). We have plenty of water here (gators in some of it – have to be careful) – had a manatee swim right behind us yesterday when we were in the water – the fish were jumping – a dolphin was following a stand up paddle boarder – pretty unique water experience! Happy Summer – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. That boat would need a decent-sized body of water! My brother has a great big boat – 52′, I think, a couple of bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, etc. He used to dock in on the St. Croix and then took it all the way to Florida via various rivers. He’s taken it up the Intercoastal Waterway to the St. Lawrence Seaway, too, and out into the Gulf. Not my thing, but man he loves it. Anyway, traffic – we are not cabin people, so seldom head north on the summer weekends. Our big traffic delays happen right in Minneapolis! In fact, I was stuck in one last Thursday on my way to First Avenue for a show. Not quite the weekend, but close enough.

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Dallas are major draws for weekend activities and festivities. City traffic is always an issue for me, but FD doesn’t mind. He’s more of a people person so he enjoys outings to the cities. Otherwise, any drives outside of those areas is really quite pleasant. Oklahoma has some lovely back roads… those are generally the paths we choose to journey on.

  8. Don Says:

    Nice boat but I will take a sailboat over a motorboat. Sailboats are sleeker and cut through the water better thus less rockin and rollin action on the boat not to mention the quiet. My brother has a 62 footer here in Alaska and our families have spent many weeks sailing the waters of Alaska and Canada, what fun. I recall a week trip a few years ago and the total fuel bill after a week was $325.00. It would have been less if we had not run the generator for electricity and did some motoring into small bays that were to shallow to sail into. Cannot stop a large boat under sail very quickly and some of the bays we entered required people on the bow deck looking into the water to keep us from running into rocks.

    However, that being said, I would be very happy with a pontoon boat on a Minnesota lake or river (Lake Pepin or St Croix river comes to mind) speed is not a priority just slow relaxation with a barbeque on board perhaps.

    Humm too many places I wish to live is making future choices very difficult………………..

    Your pictures make me anxious for a road trip as this is my old stomping grounds!

  9. I’d avoid every urban place if I could. That boat is monstrous and a bit of over kill if you ask me

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