Fording the Missippi River

We had beautiful weather in Minnesota yesterday – sunny and warm but not too hot. We figured that is all we needed to ford The Great River. First, we walked two miles to get to a good crossing point. Then, we had to avoid the rushing torrent of toddlers.  It took great focus, strength and determination to keep from getting our feet wet as we crossed The Missippi River at the headwaters just as it leaves Lake Itasca.

Alan made the journey first.

Following closely in his footsteps, I then crossed the Great River with only a pause to chat with a 2-year old in my path.

The Great Missippi River was a beautiful stream with a pebbly bottom – no mud, no dams, no barges but there was a boardwalk so you could enjoy it.

We spent the rest of the day recovering  walking the rest of the hilly bike trail and ended up with just a little shy of 12 miles for the day. I’m feeling those hills today. Everyone on the bike trail were super friendly! Minnesota has definitely been a great place to visit.

We did stop at Preachers Grove to see the stand of old growth pine.

If they had been cut down, this is how they would have been hauled – The Logging Sled:

We leave Itasca State Park today for Pipestone National Monument. We’ve got to travel 250 miles today so time to get on the road!


A Walk to Canada

Since we had the extra time in International Falls, we decided to walk to Canada. It was only about 2 miles from our little campground and there was a Mr. Sub on the other side for lunch. We just walked across the bridge and through customs. They were all set up to handle pedestrians.  

See the little stake in the rock – that’s the border. 

There was a nice river walk on the Canadian side and we climbed a rickety old watch tower to check out the view. The stairs were steep, narrow and open so it was a little freaky! The view was nice, though. 

Supposedly, they only stopped moving logs down this river by tugboat in the 70’s. I suspect the view wasn’t great then and you definitely wouldn’t have any real fishing with a tournament.

We arrived at Itasca State Park yesterday. It is really nice – friendly people, clean campsites and a lot of kids just having a good time. We took a little walk on the bike path down to Peace Pipe Overlook.

It wasn’t even crazy buggy so we walked back part of the way on one of the trails along the lake.

Next up: Our journey that started in St. Louis and took us up The Great River Road from Missouri, through Illinois, Iowa, a little of Wisconsin (I think), and mostly Minnesota comes to an end at the Headwaters of the Missippi River.

Minne Haa Haa Opolis AKA Minneapolis

Yes, that is one of the things we learned – Minneapolis is a made up name from Minne Haa Haa (waterfall) and Opolis (think metropolis). The waterfall in Minneapolis was the key to it’s existence – all the flour mills were powered by the water at the falls.

There isn’t much left of the falls to see and it turns out I didn’t take any actual pictures of it. This is the Stone Arch Bridge that is just below the falls.

We walked into town along the river, toured the Mill City Museum (which was fabulous except for the gaping hole in their covered of flour sacks as quilt fabric!), crossed the Stone Arch Bridge and walked back up the other side. It was a beautiful day with big blue skies.

This is a picture of a man lift that they used in the flour mills.  It brought back memories of riding these in the Power Plants at DWP.

Only after the abandoned mill burnt down did the historical society get it’s act in gear to preserve what was left of the structure.  

The entire walk along The Mississippi River was fabulous.

We also stopped at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Alan loved the big blue rooster (FYI – the beard is gone now!)

My favorite was the bell that didn’t have a ringer but moved on the hour. We were there right at 12 Noon and you could hear all the bells in town tolling but no sound from this one. I’ve got a long video but I’m not sure it would have the same effect if you weren’t there in person.

We both loved this sculpture. My photo does not do it any justice – the face was amazing and very expressive.

We also both enjoyed this exhibit – it looked like clay and wood but was actually bronze.  You were encouraged to sit in the chair and experience the art. You would be surprised at how comfortable a bronze chair can be.

I’m going to finish up with the very famous cherry on a spoon. I liked this angle for something different.

Our first day in Minneapolis was at the Mall of America (with it’s indoor amusement park, Lego Land, Crayola Experience and lucky for me a Merrell Store where I finally found a new pair of sandals.)

We also spent some time at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I loved this large installation. It may just inspire a quilt someday.

Here are a couple more pictures from our walk through the city.

Next stop: Bug City AKA Savannah Portage State Park


We found a nice, smallish campground just outside of Dubuque – Hoot Owl Hollow. It was relatively clean with a pretty large number of seasonals, which is probably why it only showed up in Google and not in the Good Same App. We are finding campgrounds through Google more frequently and the reviews have been pretty helpful – we pretty much are getting what we expect. 

We did a nice walk through town to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

I got to see my favorite turtle – the alligator snapping turtle. Not sure why I find them so interesting – they never move! But, they are big and scary looking.

This is not an alligator snapping turtle. It is just a turtle doing some yoga and acting a little put out that I was watching.

We also walked along the river, checked out the art and watched a barge pass through a swinging bridge.

We detoured slightly to see one of the only remaining Shot Towers. It was constructed in 1856 and they used it to make lead ammunition. You can read more about it here: Dubuque Shot Tower

We did have quite the adventure on the way home waiting out the rain and then passing through some kind of motorcycle gathering – we got a bit of the stink eye, I would say.

That is it for Dubuque. Next stop: Effigy Mounds National Monument

The Road to Dubuque

We continued our journey up The Great River Road and managed to drive somewhere around 100 miles in one whole day and didn’t have any incidents crossing or attempting to cross bridges! 

There was the stop at The Sawmill Museum in Clinton, IA.

Alan took these pictures:

This last one is of a dog or sheep treadmill used to power the saw.

I took this ONE picture:

A lot of this museum was about the owners of the lumber mills. They were incredibly wealthy men on the order of Bill Gates. This guy’s daughter was a philanthropist and left all the money he made on timber to a charity she created – The Joyce Foundation. It still has a $950 Million endowment and has done a lot to support The National Parks and other environmental initiatives.  

Next stop: Dubuque

Quad Cities

We ended up spending several days in the Quad Cities. There was just a lot of interesting things (at least for us)! While we stayed on the Illinois side of The Great River, most of our time was spent in Iowa. First stop, a quilt shop which just happened to be right next door to Antique Archeology, home of The American Pickers. 

Looks just like the television show from this vantage point:

There were a lot of the items we had seen “picked” on the show – most of which weren’t for sale. There actually wasn’t a whole lot for sale, except for t-shirts. No signs of any of the cast! It was a cool place, though, especially if you like looking at interesting old things.

Here is the last time you will see me with much hair for quite a while:

We also walked around downtown Davenport a bit in the afternoon. There was the river, a lock/dam and more bridges. We tried to go to a river-related museum on Rock Island but it turns out you have to have an Army background check in advance before you can get onto the Island. It is a functioning Army Depot.

One more bridge – the Sky Bridge. It used to go to a casino but now it seems that locals mostly use it as a place to get some exercise. Up the stairs, run across the bridge and back down the stairs gets you a pretty good workout.

We also stopped in another local art/craft gallery and found this in the elevator. Maybe people needed something to do when the elevator broke down?

Our last tourist stop was the World’s Largest Truck Stop (and museum) – Iowa 80. If you are into old trucks, there was a great collection to see.

Oh, and before I wrap up here, this is what Antique Archeology looks like without the camera angle:

Next stop:  Dubuque, IA

Walking Bettendorf

We had some great weather, so we drove back across the bridge to Iowa and walked Bettendorf – 13 miles! We weren’t fast but we enjoyed a lot of interesting sights along the way.

This is a bad picture of a Mayfly. You would think I could get a better photo considering there were millions of them! Supposedly, a large Mayfly hatch is a good indication of a healthy river ecosystem so The Mississippi must be doing pretty well. Did you know the males don’t even have a mouth? They don’t live long enough to need to eat. That’s it for Mayfly trivia today.

There were interesting sculptures along the river:

From a distance, we weren’t sure what this was:

Turns out it was art, too – lots of symbolism here. 

Bettendorf was a nice area with a cute little downtown. This was the fire station, so you get the idea:

So, at one point, the path along The Mississippi River turns in and goes through a light industrial/commercial section. We are just walking and not paying much attention when we end up next to this Lancscape company with, as you would expect, some nice landscaping! Well, there was also a well staged collection of antiques. I really should have walked down the levy to get closer but we were at mile 12 and I didn’t want to have to walk back up the levy!

Next up: Davenport