At the beginning of August our family took a road trip following the Mississippi river down to the end (or very close to the end anyway). It was part of our longer trip to take Mara down to Texas, we just thought it would be fun to follow the Mississippi since we live on it and also as we were wanting to visit friends in Louisiana.
A few days before we left we went to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park (it is around an hours drive from our place). The Mississippi flows our of Lake Itasca and the picture above shows Megan sitting at the place the lake goes into the river.
It gets narrow fairly quickly. The picture above is one I took earlier this summer when Ken's sister and family were visiting and it shows a bit better how narrow it is and shallow as well.
I thought it might be nice to include a Map of the Mississippi. Itasca is where it starts then it goes through some wood lands, swamp lands and various beautiful areas before coming to Bemidji/Lake Bemidji and then on to our place on the Northern Most part of the Mississippi.
We also stopped at Coffee Pot Landing that day. It is a nice little campground (free) that can be driven into and can also be used by canoers/kayakers.
This is the walking bridge at that campground.
Megan and Aaron were again the ones that were being videoed when we were in Bemidji (the First City on the Mississippi- and our lovely town.
We had them record on the bike bridge that goes over the river in the little section between Lake Irving and Lake Bemidji. Aaron can be a stinker when it comes to posing for pictures.
This is our favorite view of the Mississippi because it happens to be our our backdoor. It is much wider here because we have a dam not far beyond us. After the dam it does get a bit narrower again. We left home August 3 at about 3 pm (after Ken did some final work at his office and I did flowers for a wedding that my sister Keren delivered for me the next day).
Here we are, ready to travel.
We "followed" the Mississippi on our trip but not always super directly. We skipped the Grand Rapids area and headed down to Brainerd instead. This is what the Mississippi looks like there. (Both directions- photo above and below)
After that the rain really pelted down. Ken got to experience driving an RV through a city in a very heavy rain storm. I tried to take a picture the next time we crossed the Mississippi but between night time and rain the picture was simply black. :-)
We drove down into Iowa while it was still dark.
We spent the night at a city park in the town of Waukon, IA. It was an inexpensive place to camp but also a pretty neat park. It was big and pretty, easy to drive in and hook up, had a place to dump and a shower house (not the cleanest ever but not horrible), a bunch of different cool and interesting playgrounds, disc golf and a swimming pool with a slide.
Then a mile or so down the road (that had the Mississippi on one side and cliffs on the other) we came to the cute little town of McGregor. That area is totally a place I would like to go back to. In McGregor there was a street musician playing, a yellow piano sitting in the park waiting to be played and it just looked like a really fun place to be.
And then right next to McGregor is Pike's Peak (the Iowa version) that overlooks the Mississippi. It was the highest place that we found to look over the Mississippi and it was a really neat view. We totally enjoyed our stop there.
A little later we went back into Iowa and in Davenport we checked out the river walk. It was a pretty place to stop. There were various touristy things close by that could have been fun to explore if we had more time. But we didn't see any ice cream there and that was kind of on our minds so we kept moving.
We also stopped at Fort Madison, Iowa. There was this old fort there that would have been a lot of fun to explore but there was some big event going on there and our time was pretty limited as we were trying to get to St. Louis before dark. So we ended up not going in. The Mississippi is really nice and big at this point!
This place has a legend of a native american couple that were from enemy tribes but were in love and wanted to be together. Their tribes didn't like that and were pursuing them or something like that and as they tried to escape I believe they perished on this cliff. I am not quite sure if that was how the story went but it was something like that. :-)
This was, in my opinion, our most embarrassing stop. As I have mentioned everywhere we stopped along the Mississippi we were videoing footage to go along with a song that we had previously recorded at home. But in each video we would sing and sometimes play (we didn't always use the instruments) along with the music so that it would look like we had recorded it in that spot. When we got to Lover's Leap there were quite a few people already there - that can feel a little awkward. At this spot we were needing to do an instrumental section of the song. We hadn't worried that much about tuning mostly because we were in a hurry and hadn't thought to do that and because the sound wasn't being recorded and so it didn't really matter. Well when we got out and started to play here we discovered our instruments were quite out of tune, a crowd had gathered around to watch and Ken had said we had like 10 minutes to get done and out of there so we just did it. I am quite sure I look completely pained in the video and probably red as a beet. :-)
Ken had reserved a campsite for us Columbus-Belmont State Park in Kentucky for that night so we still had quite a bit of traveling left after this. So far we were eating all of our meals in the RV. I had pre-made a frozen several things so that I could just stick them in the oven to bake. We also did a few other simple things. That definitely saved us quite a bit of time and money. It was a unique challenge to prepare meals as we headed down the road. So that evening we ate and then many of us went to sleep as we traveled on. Ken and Jonathan were the only ones that stayed awake the whole time and they were full of stories of interesting roads in Kentucky. We were going down a state highway but Ken is sure that if he would have met anybody on it that somebody would have had to go into the ditch. Thankfully when traveling around midnight/1 am the road was deserted and we had what Ken thought was more like a bike trail to ourselves.
The state park was lovely! I would have enjoyed staying there more. There were very nice and clean amenities, it wasn't very expensive, it was beautiful, full of history and right on the Mississippi river. It had been the site of a long civil war battle.
Megan and Aaron were up in time on Sunday morning to look around a little bit and play a little bluegrass in Kentucky (it just seemed appropriate).
Our next stop was to go to the Church of Christ in West Dyersburg, TN. We were a little late and that was a little challenging because there building was very full. I think we found the only section of empty seats big enough to fit our family that was available in the building. But that is pretty cool. I was encouraged by their service and their encouragement to the christians to go out and be a light in the community and stand up for the truth of the Bible. They had those getting ready to go to school come up front and they prayed for them. Anyway, it seemed like a neat congregation.
That night we stayed at a camp ground in Louisiana. This campground was interesting in many ways (especially the reserving process) but it worked and we got some rest, filled up with some horrible water and were able to move on again.
In New Orleans we went over to the Algiers area to record so that we could have the New Orleans cityscape as our background. Going around in New Orleans was especially interesting to me as I thought about how much we were paying attention to the city and all that was going on there when they dealt with hurricane Katrina.
Ken's cousin Esther and her two boys were able to come over from Biloxi, MS to visit with us in New Orleans. That was really fun. So we took some time and did some sight seeing there.
Jonathan got a Shrimp Po' boy. Other foods that we eaten were Jumbalya, Black Beans and Rice, and Crawfish.
We visited a few different shops.
We enjoyed looking at the different architecture.
We did also drive beyond New Orleans to see the Mississippi lower down. We didn't have time to go as far as we could go in the Delta so this was where we stopped:
It is one wide river.
I know we missed seeing many beautiful spots on the Mississippi - are there any that you have been to? I would love to hear about them. Who knows, maybe someday we will repeat doing a Mississippi river trip. I have always thought it would be fun to canoe the length of the Mississippi. I am not as interested in doing the southern portion so much anymore but it would still be fun to try. Maybe someday.