The alpha and omega of the Mississippi River
Click images for a larger view.
The Great Mississippi River run from Louisiana to Minnesota died in the storms of late spring and early summer this year. However, the Mighty Muddy will probably hang around long enough for a retry at some point. In the meantime, we did visit both extremes.
The Mississippi River begins a 2,500 plus mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico as it flows out of Lake Itasca in Minnesota. There, a toddler with good balance can march across in a few carefully placed steps. At almost any time during the day, one can find the small rivulet filled with wading tourists, and the aforementioned urchins, gleefully adding the very first pollution to the river.
So the question then became, where to next? This is our modus operandi most of the time anyway. If we like a place… we hang around for a while, fascinated by interesting scenery, a museum/interpretive center of almost any kind, or good neighbors. A hamper full of dirty clothes, a flat tire or some other RV problem can also glue us into a spot for an extra day or two. But mostly this question about what’s next comes up the day before we’re about to leave.
Neither of us were anxious to hang around Lake Itasca for any longer than it might take to tiptoe across the river and then boogie. Too many people, too many bugs, too many trees, too much brush, too many low hanging branches – all those things conspire to make a wide-open-spaces couple from out West, downright claustrophobic. So we lit out, always with the idea of moving eastward.
Much of the country through which we traveled contains history that dates back into the 18th Century – old by American standards. The demand for fur and a desire for a Northwest Passage brought intrepid souls from England, France and other countries to explore and search.
In Pierre, South Dakota you can see the Verenderey plate, a sheet of lead buried by a French expedition in 1743. No one knows if they explored deeper into the country that would later be purchased by the United States from Napoleon Bonaparte – a result of Thomas Jefferson’s insatiable curiosity and his compulsion to move the United States westward. But Europeans had noodled around the territory for a long time, here and there leaving a mark.
Just below the monument, the Bad River empties into the Missouri and it was here in September 1804, that Lewis and Clark met the Teton Sioux for the first time. The Sioux were not impressed. Insufficient gifts, they claimed. Here’s Clarke’s rendition…
The expedition named the river the Teton River in honor of the Sioux, but at some point in the past 200 years, the name was changed to Bad. The island where the Captains landed is still there — but much has changed from the wide open days of 1804.
International Peace Gardens
This park, in northern North Dakota straddles the line between Canada and the U.S. The idea was to commemorate and perpetuate the good relations between the two nations.
The Great Lakes… pics
The Great Lakes: deep blue, clear, fresh water oceans in the middle of the country. I was never able to get over the vastness of any of these lakes and the grandeur of the countryside surrounding them. And there is plenty for shore-bound travelers to see; almost 11,000 miles of shoreline. Throw on your buckskins and wool cap, grab your musket, powder and shot and walk around them — that’s what the early explorers like LaSalle, Verenderey, Champlain and Cook did.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula keeps lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan from being one big lake. A Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, so to speak. Superior is about 20 feet higher in elevation than Huron, and at the time of the explorers, the cascades there were occasion for a long portage. It wasn’t long before someone got the bright idea to bypass the falls and install locks. These massive marine elevators — Soo Locks as they are known today — continue to lift and drop everything from dinghies to ore carriers of 1000 feet in length.
Erie, Ontario and Covered Bridges in Ohio
Michigan, Ohio , parts of Pennsylvania and northwestern New York anchor the central and east part of the Rust Belt. Driving through Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo will turn just about anyone into a bridge jumper. And there are plenty of bridges — most, not surprisingly, rusty.
In Astabula County Ohio, there are some bridges — quite a number in fact — that are aged, but not rusted. Below are a few pictures taken on one of the road tours available if you have the time or care to linger in Ohio.
On to New York.