Pikes Peak, Mississippi River Valley 2013

L. Wade Childress, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

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This trip, our intended goal was to take a four day weekend and visit a particular camping site, along the Mississippi River near Bellevue, Iowa, but unfortunately, the river was still too high and nearly all of the river side campgrounds were still closed.  With the extra time, we decided to visit Pikes Peak State Park so we could explore the area a bit more than usual.  

The photos above are of an old towboat just north of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  I have other photos of this particular boat, but this is the first time I had a chance to get pictures on a clear day.  I did to a little research on the boat and it turns out we are not the only people curious about it.  There are a lot of people who ask questions about it, but know one knows the true purpose of it being located here.  We did learn that it was damaged in an early winter freeze in the mid to later 1980s.  We also found that the boat was built in 1948, and rumors persist that it was intended to be a bed and breakfast.  But that is all that is known so far.

Bridge Work, Lansing, Iowa

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On our way to Winona, Minnesota we passed through the small community of Lansing, Iowa in the north eastern part of the state.  I have passed through the community many times and have spent a little time exploring it as well.  It is a great place to spend a few days if you get the chance.

One of the features I enjoy is the old Lansing bridge that spans the Mississippi River and connects Iowa to Wisconsin, thirty or so miles south of La Crosse.  The deck of the bridge is a see through metal grate.  It is fun to look up and see the cars passing over head, and even more entertaining driving over it and looking down.  Currently, the bridge is undergoing some maintenance, but it is still fun to pass over the river at this point.

Discover Columbus' Ships


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On the weekend of July 20, 2013, we drove to Winona, Minnesota to see replicas of Columbus' Ships, the Pinta and the Nina.  They were on a three stop tour of the upper Mississippi River and we were fortunate enough to be in the area for one of them.   

While they are replicas of the real ships, the Pinta is actually a bit larger than the real original one.  The Nina was built to exact scale to give visitors an idea of how large, or not, the ships really were.  The only modern upgrades on board are the engines to help in maneuvering, and the slits around the wheel house at the stern of the ships.  The Coast Guard, for safety reason, requested that the pilot have complete view around the ship.  Otherwise, the wheel houses of the real ships would not have had these slits. 

The ships were, and still are, steered by the long boom attached to the rudder in the wheel house.  I would like to mention the term "wheel house" that I am using is not the correct term for these ships, as wheels were not invented on ships at this time.  The other thing to keep in mind when looking at the photos is that roughly 40 sailors would have worked, lived, and slept on the boats during their journey, and they did not have below deck quarters.  They would sleep around the upper deck. 

If you find out that these ships are going to be in a port near you, I would strongly recommend that you take a little time to go and see them.  For more information about these ships, please visit their website at http://www.thenina.com

A Day in the Life Along the Mississippi

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Here are a few photos from our drive down the Mississippi River from Winona, back to Pikes Peak.  The Lock and Dam in the pictures is number 6 at Trempealeau, Wisconsin.

Point Ann Hike

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These photos are of our hike out to Point Ann above the town of McGregor, Iowa.  We tried hiking this trail the year before, but ran out of time before we had to head home.  It is a nice trail to hike, but there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to try it.  First, if you are hiking from camp, give yourself plenty of time.  It took us nearly four hours to make the loop, and that was not even the whole trail.  We started from camp, but found the trail closed, so we hiked back, took the car to the closest trail head to camp, and hiked from there.  There are a couple of places to start from that are closer to Point Ann, but we wanted to hike as much of the trail as possible.  Secondly, take plenty of water and snacks to eat along the way.  You will need them before your hike is done.