Saturday, October 9, 2010

Indian Summer on the Upper Mississippi

Indian Summer has arrived here in southern Wisconsin, warm sunny days after the first frost.  The days are pleasant, and the nights are cool and bug free - heaven.  The colors here in Rock County are starting to peak, the trees gaudy in russets, oranges, and shades of gold.  We had a little trip this week on the Mississippi River, an alternative to our usual drive up the River Road from Prairie du Chien to Lake Pepin.  This time we saw the scenery from the middle of the river.

Dick booked us on an excursion boat called the Celebration Belle. We left from Dubuque, went up river sixty or so miles to Prairie du Chien, stayed overnight in a motel, then returned the next day. There was good food on the boat, and live music all the way, but the real reason to go is to see the river, the bluffs, the trees, and the bald eagles.

 The Mississippi was a flood stage, since heavy rains about a week ago.  At Dubuque many docks were under water, same with riverside parks and some cottages.
 This is lock and dam 11 near Dubuque.  The gates are all open, since the river is at flood stage.  The boat still goes through the lock since otherwise the current would be too swift to control the boat.

 This is one of the three captains on the excursion boat.  The pilots house was open, and we could go in, watch, ask questions, and get a good look at their navigational equipment.

 There weren't many pleasure craft out, since the current was so swift, and there was so much debris in the water, though we did see a couple canoeists.

 The trip went past some little villages, like Specht's Ferry, Cameron, and Guttenburg, Iowa. 

 Freight trains run all along both sides of the river, and when they sound their horns it echoes off the water and the limestone bluffs.

 There were a couple dozen tow boats with barges on the upper Mississippi, but this is the only one we saw.

What we mostly saw was blue sky, wide expanses of water, flooded islands, and at least a dozen bald eagles.  It was relaxing, lovely and a good way to celebrate autumn.

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