Monday, July 23, 2007

Back from Steamboating

We have been away from home just over a week, and now piles of newspapers, bills, and magazines await our attention. My online book groups have been busy chatting about books and whatever else they can think of. There are loads of dirty vacation laundry to do, garden and house plants to water, weeds to pull, and a lonely cat on which to lavish our attention. But despite the catching up that needs to be done, it feels good to be home and sleeping in our own beds.

My husband and I just returned from our third steamboating trip. About ten years ago we took a four day cruise on the Mississippi Queen from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. We were both working at the time, and I felt torn about taking a summer trip, since that meant precious time away from my garden when it was at its best. It was hot, really really hot outside, and inside the boat the AC chilled the air to a temperature that would keep cold cuts in good shape. Dick was glued to the slowly passing panorama of the shoreline, bridges, power plants, and barges. He loved the locks and dams. I was too wired to sit and enjoy the show, too hot, too cold. And the only book I brought was Light in August, a very bad choice, I discovered.

This past November we took another four day trip on the Mississippi Queen, this time from Saint Louis to Memphis. We knew it was late in the season, but hoped that the southern route would be warm enough to be comfortable, and that there still might be some leaves. Wrong. It was chilly and rainy, and there were no more leaves to watch, though we could see lovely homes on shore that would have been hidden earlier in the season. This trip had problems. The boat had a crack in the hull from hitting a submerged piece of conrete from an old lock, and we had to sit in Saint Louis two of our four days for repairs. To be fair, the steamboat folks gave us free tours of Saint Louis, and we had the usual good food and excellent entertainment. Our dinner table partners were charming, very good company. But it was frustrating to cruise on by the stops we had looked forward to, like Cape Girardeau, and Paducah.

So, we weren't really planning another steamboating vacation. But the new company that bought the Delta Steamboat Company sent us tempting brochures, a really good deal as returning passengers, and we had a nice voucher from the last trip. So, we booked. It was a new boat (to us), the American Queen. It was a new route, from Cincinnati to Saint Louis. We had the chance to see Paducah, missed last time, and we liked the theme, Native Americans.

The next few days I hope to share some of the highlights of this river cruise. The photos are from our arrival in Cincinnati. We drove to the airport, left our car in long term parking, and the steamboat folks shuttled us to the boat.

To be continued.

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