Sunday, June 21, 2009
Up the Mississippi River
You can probably guess from this photo, what we did on our vacation. We've wanted to cruise on a riverboat for years, but they are usually VERY expensive. We ran across a small ad in Reader's Digest for a cruise that included the word "affordable" and we bit!
Across Nebraska, across Iowa we drove to the Mississippi River, to a small river town of LeClaire, Iowa. Above is a paddlewheel (and DH) at the museum from a previous vessel. Paddlewheels are huge!
Below is our vessel for the trip, The Twilight - isn't she beautiful? (She is NOT powered by a paddlewheel.)
The capacity is 120 but to our delight, only 29 people were expected. We had her almost to ourself - all 3 decks, plus the wheelhouse. We visited the captain numerous times. He knew so much about 'ole man river', the Mississippi! And each time we left the dock, or prepared to dock up, the caliope started up - charming!!!
We had expected the river to be dirty, cluttered and polluted but were pleasantly surprised to find the river clean, unpolluted, and lovely. In fact, it's cleaner now than ever before. The amount of barge traffic and tonnage moved is incredible. The towboats push 12-15 barges at a time - even through the locks and dams, another amazing feat. Each barge holds 27 times more tonnage than a truck on the highway.
We had all our meals on board, and again, expected to have a simple fare of sandwiches, etc., but were extremely pleased with the menu, plus tablecloths, silverware, drinks, all beautiful and very delicious, in the air-conditioned dining room. Dress, as you can tell, is casual. Tall man in baseball cap is DH. (below).
There was also a bar, popcorn, snacks every time we turned around, coffee, tea, etc.
Above is a lovely view of the promenade - not sure which deck - and the river, all quiet and lovely.
The my DH was in 7th heaven seeing all the various tugboats, although the correct name is "towboats" even though they pushed and didn't tow.
We went through several locks, up the river for 90 miles to Dubuque, where we stayed in the downtown area, saw the sights, museum, acquarium, and arrived back on the boat next morning, to go back down to our original point of departure in LeClair, Iowa. This was a long 2-day trip, totally wonderful, relaxing, weather was perfect - a good trip.
We came away from this pleasant adventure with books on paddlewheelers, towboats, Mississippir River, riverboat travel and are amazed we knew so little about this important time in the development along the river.
For more information, www.riverboattwilight.com
After disembarking (and hitting a huge quiltshop within walking distance of the dock) we headed towards Wisconsin to visit family.