Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cruising on "Our" River

We are re-enacting a cruise we took on our 24-foot Sea Ray in 1987. At that time our boys were 6 and 7 1/2 and were super excited to be exploring the Upper Mississippi on the boat we had owned for a month or two. It was a memory making trip for sure! This time it's just the two of us on our Ranger Tug- only our second cruise on this boat. We are still getting used to the feel and sounds of her.

We left from Guttenberg on September 14 and are headed to Stillwater, MN,  on the St. Croix River.
The trees are already showing some color!
Jonathan Erickson near McGregor, IA

Our first day of travel included 2 locks and about 82 miles, to La Crosse, WI. We stayed at the Pettibone Boat Club and enjoyed dinner at their excellent restaurant. We even met some Gold Loopers on their way south.

Near Marquette, Iowa

Saw LOTS of these.
The bluffs along the Upper Mississippi - the Driftless Region- are as spectacular as we remembered.

This Nativity scene is perched high on a Wisconsin bluff.

Day 2 took us from La Crosse to Winona, MN. We seemed to play tag with a group of towboats along the way and waited an hour or more at both Lock 7 and Lock 6. That's the way it goes on the river.  Fortunately the locks alternate recreational vessels with tows so we never have to wait for more than one towboat, even though several may be waiting to lock through.

Waiting for Lock 7 with Brooke McKenzie near La Crescent, MN

Waiting for Lock 6 at Trempealeau, WI.
We arrived in Winona in time to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which is currently exhibiting the Mississippi River Photo Shootout Juried exhibition. Since I won 2nd prize in this event last year, Mark insisted we go take a look. The marina guy assured us the museum was an easy 1-mile walk. Apparently they measure distance differently in Minnesota. After walking a mile Mark's GPS said we still had 1.5 miles to go in the 91 degree heat. We stopped in a hardware store to make sure we were on the right track, which we were. But the final leg of the walk was along a busy highway with a narrow shoulder. I was not excited about getting hit by a car to see a photograph that hangs in my family room, so we went back to the hardware store to call a taxi. At that point, a gentleman working in the store offered to drive us to the museum- an offer we gladly accepted.

The museum itself is impressive! Their focus is on art inspired by water. In addition to the traveling Mississippi River exhibit, their permanent collection includes works by Renoir, Picasso, Manet, Monet, Degas, Whistler, and many other well-known artists. My photograph, however, was not in the same gallery as those! It was fun to see it hanging in a museum. We perused the entire facility and then decided to call a taxi or Uber. As luck would have it, both are non-existent here. Another couple was leaving at the same time, and after hearing us brace ourselves for the long, hot walk back to the marina, they loaded us into their open Jeep and drove us back to our boat! After all the kindness we encountered here, I guess I will have to stop telling Minnesota jokes!

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