The sun is out and the river is smiling
21.05.2014 - 23.05.2014 22 °C
Thursday 22nd May: Room 617, Radisson Hotel, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The Upper Mississippi River Basin continues to amaze us. As does this weather! Each stretch of this remarkable road, or, rather, collection of roads, The Great River Road(s), has been different. To be honest, we never expected this part of the trip to be so enjoyable. Indeed we quite expected it to be raining the whole way. This morning we were racing a band of thin, high cloud but managed to keep ahead of it most of the time. This afternoon, we looked up and it had cleared. It was a delight to see this huge waterway looking blue and at its best.
The river is high due to storms a few days ago and there is minor flooding at the edges but this helps to make it look so good.
This morning, after watching the amazing procedure of getting a tug and its barges through the locks at Dubuque (they have just a foot each side of leeway). We were surprised to learn than river transportation is more significant than ever. In the 1930s about 1m tons of cargoe were carried on the Mississippi and it's now 34m. So there are quite frequent sightings of tugs and their barges ....
....we stayed on the Iowa side and were up and down through really green, rolling countryside with small farms, smart farmhouses, with occasional, exciting glimpses of the river, as well as a very big John Deere factory. Which may have explained the wealth hereabouts. John Deere is the default brand for all machines agricultural as well as mowers etc etc.
This might also explain the local obsession with mowing. We have never seen so many people on or pushing mowers. All surfaces have either to be painted (if hard and upright) or mowed, if flat and green. In most of the US people use their gardens as they call them: "yards". Here they are grass to be mowed. Lawns are mowed. Ditches are mowed. Verges are mowed. Banks are mowed. Hills are mowed. Tracks are mowed. Paths are mowed..... I expect they get a discount on those John Deere mowers.
We then crossed into Wisconsin, crossing back once to visit another town, then continued right at the railroad/water's edge into our port of call for the night, La Crosse which, as IanT pointed out, is the home of that most violent of games, Lacrosse.
We visited several small towns and tonight we are back in another big one with ugly outskirts but a really good looking downtown and restored waterfront. Our hotel is at the edge of Downtown on the waterfront and we have a splendid view of the Mississippi from our room. We plan to explore soon.
Tomorrow, continuing up the Mississippi to St Paul/Minneapolis.
We have to mention that we passed the site of Bad Axe scene of yet more atrocities committed against the native Americans. More here if it's of interest. We have been horrified to read many tales showing how badly the "red indians" were treated in their native lands.
Back to last night, we had a splendid walk along the levee at the splendid restored waterfront in Dubuque, set off by a dramatic heavy industrial backdrop
and ate very well AND healthily at Houlihan's next to the hotel. We avoided entering the casino. No more gambling!
Bob's "BUFFALO BLEU SALAD, hand-breaded chicken tenderloins in Buffalo wing sauce, bacon, sharp cheddar, croutons, spicy pecans, red onions, creamy gorgonzola, garlic ranch $11.95"
John's "SO. CAL FISH TACOS chipotle mayo, panko-breaded tilapia, Napa cabbage, pico, honey-cumin dressing, chips and salsa $8.95" served with Honey & Peanut Slaw
Amazing value with lots of fresh veg and salad stuff.
Yes, our little Chevy SUV is great, Brien. Bob enjoys driving it compared to the tank of a "Yukie". And it drinks a lot less gas than the V8 monster in the Yukon. And, yes of course, original Paul Temples with Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury.
Another success story has been the re-establishment of the bald eagle, which went from 0 to 62 breeding pairs, so how about this picture?
They tend to migrate down to nest and breed from upper Minnesota in the winter. Oh and "bald" come from indian word "baldi", meaning white headed. So you can stop calling John "Baldy", thanks very much!!