Tues 9/20/2011

Good morning, woke up to fog, clouds and balmy temps. Wheels up at 8:30 and we’re on our way. Made a stop just up the street to the flood walls of Cape Girardeau. Since those walls are protecting the city, there is absolutely no view of the river, they have the history of CG painted on the walls. Below are some wonderful paintings.
Our adventures today will take us to Metropolis, IL home of ?? a little out of the way but worth the trip (we hope). Lots to do today, we’ll end up in Union City, Tennessee.
If you’ve missed past days just keep paging down. I’m adding more pics as time permits.

The below pics of the wall murals were taken at the flood wall in Cape Girardeau, MO.






Penny, Joanie, Lisa and Judy



Jim and Jeff
On to the city of Metropolis circa 1839, on the banks of the Ohio River. Home of Superman, we all love the giants and take pictures when we find them. Metropolis also has a wonderful collection of murals on buildings throughout town. We’re also saying goodbye to our friends Dennis and Cindy heading back to Florida.



My Superman


Roy and Kathy


Barbara and Jerry


Jeff and Penny


Jim and Judy




Gerry has a good sense of humor, don’t think he knows I’m putting this picture up for all to see. Sorry Gerry’s Mom, I think he’s always wanted a pair.


More wonderful murals in Metropolis.



Lois Lane with Jim and Jude


Joanie and Bob with Lois.


More super heroes, Jim, Roy, Gerry and Jeff.


The gang saying goodbye to Cindy and Dennis.
Traveling the country roads to the Hillbilly cafe.



The Hillbilly Cafe in Wickliffe, Kentucky. Surprisingly good food was had by all.

On to Cairo, Illinois for a tour of the Cairo Custom House. Built in 1872, it was to be a collection point to inspect and collect duty after goods passed the point of entry. In 1984 it was saved from demolition by a group of citizens who formed the Custom House Restoration Commision. Finally opened as a museum in 1992. It’s loaded with many historical artifacts and displays.

No pictures were allowed of the inside, very nice museum.

Fort Jefferson Cross in Clarksville, KY
Overlooking the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.



View of the river.

Columbus Belmont State Park. Jerry, Paul and Mary.



The mighty Mississippi.


Staying in Union City, TN, enjoying happy hour before heading to dinner.



Great dinner spot, loved the food.

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Mon 9/19/2011

After a rainy stormy night, some of the cars had a couple inches of water on the floor boards. Mid year Corvettes are known for leaking. Ours was covered so no problem, unlike our Route 66 trip in Joplin, Missouri where we had 4 ” of rain one night and 2″ on the floor in the morning. Jim spent a lot of time over the last few years perfecting leak proofing.
Today will be much nicer with peeks of sun this afternoon and temps in the 70’s once again. The trees are starting to change clear down here in Alton, IL, the little towns have their streets decorated with pumpkins and corn stalks. There are many more brick houses down this way but most of the time it looks much like southern Minnesota with the farms growing corn and soybeans.
Our journey today will take us 143 miles down river ending in Cape Girardeau, MO.
Stopping at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, IL, the Weirs Parts Center, the major distributor of GM Performance Parts in Red Bud, IL, Fort de Chartres State Park in Prairie du Rocher, IL, we’ll be crossing to the west side of the river on the Moduc Ferry and whatever else might come along. I’ll post pics as we go so stay tuned.




Cahokia Mounds State Historic site.



Putting together artifacts.


Items found during the archealogical digs.



The gang comparing notes.


Cahokia is the largest mound system in the America. They were people of 1000 years ago called Mississippians. They prevailed for several hundred years numbering around 20,000, they were primarily into agriculture. They built their civilization over a 3 year period, their decline started in the late 13th century, no one seems to know why they disappeared but they left behind many artifacts. Sounds like the ancient Aztecs. The mounds held the Temples for their leaders.
Next stop Red Bud, IL where we were given a tour of the Weir Parts Center, one of the top 10 in the US. They carry 62,000 part numbers including new and high performance engines. This was a good stop for the guys and it was hard pulling them away. Owner Norm is expanding his business and we want to wish him luck. Much to our surprise we were treated to a wonderful picnic lunch featuring pulled pork, salads and cookies. Thanks Norm and all the Weir Parts guys Brian, Chris and the rest.



2011 Corvette


Checking out various engines.



Doug, Jeff, Mary Carol, Roy, Jerry, Gerry and Bob.


My new Camaro, how do I look?


Our cars at the Weirs Parts Center.


Engines stacked up, they claim to turn their inventory every 3 months.


Lunch at the park with the Weirs Parts guys. Sorry, caught everyone with their mouths full.


Some of the guys.

We are starting to pass through more flood gates below and we’re seeing more levees. Lots of flooding this year due to heavy rains north, this part of the river has both the Illinois and Missouri rivers added to the Mississippi.

Fort de Chartres historic site 1753-1772, started out as a French fort and ceded to the British after the Paris treaty in 1763. In 1772 it was abandoned and destroyed. The state of Illinois purchased the land in 1915 making it a state park. They have since been restoring it to its original design.


Flood gates along the Great River Road in Illinois.


French fort.


Penny, Paul, Mary, Denny, Cindy, Lisa and Kathy heading to the fort.




In Moduc, IL we took the ferry across the river into Missouri. The Ferry holds 9 cars, we’re up to 11 cars now so 2 trips were needed. I should explain the yellow duckies, at the start of our trip Roy and Doug thought it would be a good idea to decorate our own little ducks and somewhere along the river throw them in, maybe we’ll see them again at the end of the trip. So, from the deck of the Moduc Ferry we tossed them into the river.


John standing by his car.


My duck and Jim’s duck. Jim has hair on his duck.


There they go, see you in New Orleans.



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Sun 9/18/11

We’re in Quincy this rainy morning and we’re not letting a little rain get in our way. A lot of rain is forecasted for this afternoon though so we’ll see, might have to stop and catch football game on TV.
We’re driving 21 miles to Hannibal, MO for a trolley tour of the Mark Twain sights then we’ll check out Lock & Dam 24. Also today is the National Great River Museum in East Alton , IL and the Lewis & Clark Historic site in Hartford, IL. Tonight we’ll be staying in Alton, 141 miles down the road.
Don’t have all of yesterday’s pics up yet so keep checking back.

We dodged rain drops most of the day, didn’t bother us a bit. We took a trolley tour of Hannibal first thing this morning. Saw the childhood home of Samuel Clemens circa 1939, heard about his early life living on the river his inspiration for writing about Huck, Tom, Becky and Injun Joe. He was not only a writer but a journalist and river pilot. Something I found interesting is that he was born as Halley’s Comet was going overhead in 1935 and died 75 years later again during Halley’s comet.




Bob, Joanie, Paul Gerry and Lisa waiting to board the Hannibal Trolley.


Tom and Huck


Samuel Clemens childhood home.


Doug and Mary sitting in the back, Roy and Kathy.



Turtle Island


Jude and Jim at the Mark Twain statue.


Downtown Hannibal



Lunch at the Hawg Pit BBQ in Grafton, Ill. Great pulled pork sandwich’s, coincidently my son in law was cooking a 16 LB pork shoulder at the same time, they had yummy pulled pork for dinner.



Enjoying our lunch stop at the Hawg-Pit, Jim, Bob, Joanie, Gerry, Lisa, Doug and Mary.


We visited the Lewis and Clark Historic Site in Hartford, IL which is the start of their famous trail. Two years ago we stopped at the mouth of the Columbia River just inside Cape Disappointment. They have a wonderful interpretive center there also.


Barges along the river in Illinois.


We ended the day by touring the 15 story Confluence Towers which overlooks the  Missouri and Mississippi rivers.


View from the top. Missouri and Mississippi rivers, this is approximately the site of the start of the Lewis & Clark expedition.


Lisa and Mary Carol.


The towers are 15 stories high.


Our stop for the night in Alton, IL.


Another shot of the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site.

We were supposed to tour Lock & Dam 24 but it was closed due to security reasons, they said the orders come from Washington and they didn’t tell us what was going on.
We ended the day by touring the 15 story Confluence Towers which overlooks the the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
We were joined by our old friends from the Route 66 trip, Dennis and Cindy Manier.

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Sat 9/17

Another 50• morning in Iowa, should get up to 68 by the time we arrive in Quincy, Illinois tonight, about 87 miles further south.
We’re starting our journey at 8:45 AM I was able to fit in some serious biking and treadmill time this morning. That should help, I can fit in a BLL at dinner.
We’re on our way to Fort Madison, we’ll drive by Iowa State Pen and then stop for a tour of Old Fort Madison. Lots to do today, catch ya later.




This is Eugene an out of work college professor, posing as a 1812 soldier. He is working on his doctoral thesis and writing a book about the life of the officers and enlisted personel stationed in various garrisons. He was so interesting to listen to and he makes history fun.20110917-054341.jpg

Fort Madison was one of three posts established by the U.S. Army to establish control over the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territories. Fort Madison was built in 1808 to control trade and pacify Native Americans in the Upper Mississippi River region, it was continually under attack until it finally burned down in 1813.

Our next stop was Nauvoo, Ill. It has a rich history for the Mormons.


The city of Nauvoo, Illinois.


This was the second Temple built on this site by the Mormons, the first in 1836, then this one completed in 2002.




Jim and Jude

Lunch stop at the Nauvoo Mill & Bakery where we were given a talk about the history of the town.











Then we toured the Browning Home and Gunsmith Shop which was also very interesting. Pioneer gunsmith John Browning was a firearms designer, he is the most important figure in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms.

Checking out some of the original Browning guns. Jim, Doug, Jerry and Paul, along with our tour guide.





The guys found this very interesting.



John Brownings workshop with the original tools. Born in 1855, died in 1926.







In class





Next stop, the George M. Verity Riverboat Museum in Keokuk, Iowa.

Paddleboat built in Dubuque, Iowa in 1927 bu the U.S. government. It was built to revive river transportation and move barges from St. Louis to St. Paul.




Jerry says “full steam ahead”.



Bob looks like he wants to get into this diving gear .





View from the bridge.




The pilot house.





Hey down there.



 We’ll be spending the night in Quincy, Illinois. Dinner at Krieger’s Sports Grill.



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Fri 9/16

First of all, thanks to everyone who’s watching. Secondly, I was having technical difficulties yesterday and after conferring with my web master it’s really me who’s the true difficulty. Now I need to ask him again to fix it for me and all he can say is MOM you can’t do it that way. The tables sure do turn when your kids become smarter than you. Anyway, this process will improve.
Today, it’s a little chilly, only in the 40’s and cloudy. We’re finally leaving the beautiful river town of Le Claire and heading to Burlington, IA 103 miles down river. We’ll be at the John Deere Pavilion, we were just told that our factory tour is cancelled due to a factory shut down. Then we have the Putnam Museum of History & Science and Snake Alley, “the crookedest street in the world”. Check back for pics later and maybe tonight I’ll attach words to Thursdays post.

Mississippi River fact of the day: Elevation ranges from 1475 feet at Lale Itasca to 0 feet at the Gulf of Mexico. More than half of that drop (795 feet) occurs in Minnesota.



Jerry, Jim, Jeff, Penny and Barbara.


Joanie and Barb



What do ya think, second job?


We had to share with 4 busloads of school kids.



Roy playing with a simulation machine.

Our next stop the Putnam Museum of History & Science in Davenport, Iowa.


The Putnam Museum of Science and History in Davenport, Iowa.


Believe it or not this is all crocheting. It’s a beautiful work of art.


More from the Putnam Museum.






We caught this Imax movie. About 2 women in different parts of the world who have dedicated their lives to rescuing baby Orangutans displaced by the desimation of the rain forests and baby Elephants needing rescue due to the killing of their parents for the tusks. Heart wrenching story with a happy ending.


Oh ya, it was in 3D.

The next stop was the Muscatine History & Industry Center/Pearl Button Museum. We learned the button making process, from collecting the shells in the river to the finished product. Very interesting how the button making industry supplied jobs to men, women and children in Muscatine.


Downtown historic Muscatine



Very collectible today, pearl butons on their cards.


You should have seen the pictures of the boat loads of shells that filled the streets and yards of the town, everyone was involved with the making of pearl buttons.


The counter, 144 buttons fit in this counting tool.

Finally, we ended our tour in Burlington, IA. If you’ve ever been to San Fran and Lombard street, Snake Alley has the billing for crookedest street in the World. When we arrived we found it closed off to traffic so we went after a local police officer who allowed us to drive our cars down.



The crookedest street in the world so says the Guiness Book of World Records.


Dinner was at Big Muddy’s in Burlington, Iowa, great food, good atmosphere, Ribs, Pork Chops, Turkey Breast and Salmon were excellent I’m sure everything else was just as good.



Here’s the gang with one extra couple,  friends of John and Mary Carol.


They like to record their floods, I suppose the restaurant is 200 feet from the river uphill.

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Thurs 9/15/2011

Brrrr… Rather chilly this morning, in the 40’s but hear it’s colder back home. Hope my flowers didn’t freeze.
We’re in Le Claire, Iowa, home of the Buckeyes and they’ll let you know that. Lot’s to do so we’ll be staying one more night. Left the motel at 8:15 for a tour of Lock & Dam 15 on Arsenal Island in Rock Island, Ill and the Rock Island Arsenal Museum.


Our tour guide Lindy, due to 9/11 we are required to leave our cameras behind? That didn’t make much sense.


Lock and dam 15 was the first one built on the river. It’s 100′ wide by 600′ long and will hold 9 barges at a time.


The bridge was built in 1896 and is still in excellent condition. After our 35W bridge collapse this bridge was inspected and found safe. Amazing! It’s a railroad bridge on the upper level and cars on the lower level.


Bob, Lisa, Gerry, Mary and Joanie


Back to the cars and off to the Rock Island Arsenal  Museum.


Rock Island Arsenal Museum built in 1862 and controlled by the U.S. Army Joint Munitions command. It is the largest government owned weapons manufacuring arsenal in the United States. During the Civil War,  Arsenal Island was home to a large Union Army prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers.


What else would you have in an Army Museum but loads of weapons, actually it was quite interesting.




Lunch in the commissary, good food and good prices


The Rock Island National Cemetery


Buffalo Bill Museum in Le Claire, IA. The below pictures were all from the museum.








I was looking forward to visiting the American Pickers Store Antique Archeaology.


Frank and Mike, they weren’t at the store but out picking which they do 3 weeks out of the month.


If you watch the show do you recognize any of their picks?




The Pickers store wasn’t what I was expecting.


Here we are resting after a long day of exploring. I see Gerry and Lisa at the top, Doug and Paul, Bob, Jeff, Roy, Jerry, Kathy, Mary and Joanie. I’ve got to get into more of these pisc.


Dinner at Sneaky Pete’s in on the Le Claire riverfront.


Jim was just glad he wasn’t wearing a tie because if he was they’d cut it off and hang it up.


How many guys have lost their ties to Sneaky Pete?


Bathtub salad bar. Hope it was clean.


Old building, old tin ceiling tiles. I guess there’s bullet holes inside also, form the olden days.

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Wed 9/14

This morning we’re in beautiful small town Prairie du Chien, WI. After last night thought I should go for a walk before we leave for the day. Found Mary Carol doing the same so we spent 40 min briskly walking through town.
Temp this morning was 50. We’re on our way to Le Claire, IA tonight. Lots to see today.

We’ve seen lots of unusual statues, this is our first pink elephant. OOPs I’m missing the pink elephant, see below.
First stop Pike’s Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa.



The confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.
Our next stop was Dubuque, they have a wonderful Mississippi River Museum.


The museum entrance. Highly recommended for those traveling to Dubuque.



A lonely looking Mark Twain.





Here we go, the pink elephant. I think it had something to do with a riverboat casino.


Lunch stop in Galena, Ill. Galena is a very architecturally interesting town it was a hub on the Mississippi between St. Louis and St. Paul in the 1800. Due to erosion on the Galena river, it is inaccessible to river traffic. It was also the residence of Ulysses S. Grant and his family prior to the civil war and after. It is now a state historic site. There are many mansions converted to B & B’s, it’s worth a visit if you get a chance.

We travelled 170 miles today, most of it on the eastern side of the Miss, tonight we’re in Le Claire, IA on the western side. We had such a great lunch many of us skipped dinner to spend an enjoyable evening relaxing, drinking, snacking and chatting.


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Tuesday 9/13

This morning we woke up in Red Wing, gorgeous, sunny day, temps in the 50’s to start, going up to high 60’s throughout the day. Red Wing museum and factory tour today.

Oh, and it’s my Birthday today.


Roy and Kathy posing with the size 877 worlds largest boot.



The Red Wing factory shows their pride for being “made in the USA”.


Bob, Penny, Doug, Joanie, Gerry and Kathy at the start of the tour.


They build their shoes in lots of 6.


The shop floor was quite amazing.



Red Wing Shoes has been around for 106 years, there are 3 facilities in the US and they employee 525 putting out 50,000 pairs of shoes per week. They still use the steel cutting dies to get roughly 5 pairs per steer hide.


Each cell has their own sewing operation, it’s really fascinating.


Jerry, Bob, Paul, Doug and Mary .



Red Wing from the overlook.


This guy biked up the hill just to get a group shot with all of us, he’s Red Wings City Manager.


Lunch stop at Slippery’s where Grumpy Old Men was filmed.


Here’s our Grumpy Old Men (just kidding guys), Bob, Paul, Gerry, Jeff, Jim John, Roy, Doug and Jerry in back.


The streets of Wabasha were beautifully decorated for Halloween.

After our stop in Red Wing we headed to Wabasha. Stopped for lunch at Slippery’s on the river. They filmed parts of Grumpier old men in Wabasha and at Slippery’s.
On to Prairie du Chien WI to spend the night. Celebrated my BD tonight with good friends at Ambro Junction BBQ, a wonderful stranger sang happy birthday to me and she substituted “traveling with a zoo”, very clever and not far off. My peeps kept toasting the evening, the staff sent me off with a bottle of wine and life was good.
We put on 160 miles today.


That would be me with my Fried Twinkie, we all shared the bounty.

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Monday 9/12

Woke up at home this morning, that was a quick trip. We’re heading south and by tonight we’ll be in Red Wing a whopping 79 miles today. I’ll let you know what fun adventures we have in store.
Fun fact of the day: Burma Shave road signs were first erected in Red Wing, MN in 1925.
This morning we brought everyone to the city, we saw the Historic Stone Arch Bridge, Boom Island for a cruise on the Minneapolis Queen.




Mill City Museum in the background. Gerry, Kathy, Lisa, Roy and Penny.


Saint Anthony Falls at Lock and Dam 1.


The gang back row L -Lisa, Gerry, Jerry (with Barbara back at the car), Bob, Joanie, Kathy, Roy, Paul, Doug; Front row L- John, Mary Carol, Jim, Jeff, Penny, Mary and Judy.

Next stop was the Minneapolis Queen for a trip through the Lock and Dam. Very nice trip, saw a different perspective of the river from the water. Left Mpls for Shepard Road and a view of Fort Snelling, then on to Red Wing, MN. Stopped for a tour of the Red Wing Pottery Plant, founded on 1878. There are currently 3 potters working producing only hand made pieces. They produce replicas of the “salt glaze” pottery from the 1870’s to 1900.

Dinner tonight as at the Bierstube in Red Wing, very good food.


The beautiful Stone Arch Bridge from the deck of the Minneapolis Queen.


Red Wing pottery production potter of 35 years Scott K. Each piece is turned by hand and formed into a beautiful piece of stoneware with the potters initials.


The current owner of Red Wing Pottery explaining the salt glaze process.


Some of the pieces waiting to be fired.

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Sunday 9/11

God bless the USA and our military forces, the men, women and children who died this terrible day 10 years ago.

Well, good morning all. What great weather we’re experiencing. The morning at Itasca Park was very peaceful. Temp in the 50’s, blue sky, birds singing and Roy blowing his whistle trying to gather us all for breakfast. On to Bemidji where we gathered in front of Paul Bunyan and Babe for a photo op.
Fact of the day: the scenic route was overlaid on existing federal, state and local roads rather than having been constructed from scratch, thanks to the governors of the 10 states that border the Mississippi, founded in 1938.


Relaxing at the Clubhouse great place for a large group. Roy, Kathy and Mary.


Getting ready to leave Itasca, beautiful morning. Jim, Gerry, Kathy and Doug.


Breakfast at the Douglas Lodge, and our Douglas was enjoying this huge Cinnamon Roll eough to feed the whole group for only $4.


The road out, was a good photo op. All the girls standing on the bridge yelling “close it up”, we wanted to make sure to get all the cars into the shot. They weren’t thinking color coordinated with the 2 yellows in a row.


Our next stop in Bemidji.


Don’t know if this was legal but it looks good.


Thank you Bemidji Chamber of Commerce.

Our next stops were Forestedge Winery, thank you for the tour John and Paul, then in Hackensack we visited Lucette, Paul Bunyans girfriend and then what would a trip down Highway 10 be without stopping in Randall at Treasure City. We finished the evening travelling the river road to Psycho Suzie’s for dinner.


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