Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Mighty Mississippi

In early June, I went on a roadtrip by myself. On that trip, I headed north a little bit to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Having lived so close to the river most of my life, it has been an interesting year to "discover" the river for myself. I've seen where it starts this year and now with this last trip been able watch it grow. One can walk across the headwaters easily and hardly imagine standing there how massive the river gets by the time it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

I drive over bridges crossing the Mississippi all the time. One less since the collapse of the 35W bridge in early August of this year, but that was a bridge I had crossed many times. Whenever our family had visitors from the Post-Soviet realm, Andriy included, we would go to a boat launch site within five miles of our home to view the river. During my first attempt at college, I found myself going to that spot to relax and watch the river when stress levels increased. When my grandma passed away, I drove down to the river and sat there, reflecting. DM and I went to the river one night to take pictures and met Shrunken Head Man.

As much as the ocean is part of the lives of those who live on coasts, the Mississippi River has influenced my life. But I've known it as a decently sized river, one that it takes less than 30 seconds to cross when traffic is moving at the speed limit on the highway. When this trip idea started, my mom suggested going to Memphis so that we could both see a bit of the South, experience Beale Street, and visit Graceland. She also suggested a route down to Memphis that was longer than Google Maps would suggest. Her idea, probably to entice me, was to travel down the Mississippi River where I could take pictures. The idea was formed prior to the bridge collapse, but after I visited the headwaters.

That's where this started. With that, I want to take you on a journey down the Nile of North America. We won't reach the delta or where the river ends, but we'll see it grow and watch it change.

Before we go on our journey, here are a couple of older pictures of the river that I've taken. The first is the headwaters and the second is from that boat launch in Fridley, Minnesota. The third picture is taken in downtown Minneapolis, not far from where the 35W bridge collapsed.

Headwaters of the Mississippi (4)

Mississippi River

Bridge (24)

Our first river stop was in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It's not too far from home, but it is after the St. Croix River joins the Mississippi River. The Minnesota River joins near the Cities and so the Mississippi is a notable river by the time you reach LaCrosse.

Bridge at LaCrosse

Besides the river and a big, scary bridge, there are many statues in LaCrosse. Here are three:MajesticWaving StatueNative American Statue

We entered Dubuque, Iowa late in the afternoon.

Bridge at Dubuque

After Dubuque, it wasn't long before we made it to the Quad Cities. The Quad Cities are made up of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Moline/East Moline and Rock Island, Illinois. The cities all have a history around the river. We stopped in Davenport and Rock Island. The first two pictures here are in Davenport.

Bridge 2Bridge 3

We found a place with the word sunset in its name right as the sun was setting, so it was a good indicator to pull over and check out the view. This is in Rock Island.

Rock Island BridgeSunset and Bridge

We made it to Burlington, Iowa late that night (well, late for Mom. Early for me.) In the morning, we headed out again, but not before checking out the river in Burlington. It was another neat bridge!

Bridge 2

The next stop was Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is the hometown of Mark Twain and hopefully we are all aware of the effects of the Mississippi River on his writings.

Bridge at Hannibal

Kind of a neat tribute to the man.

Mark Twain

That evening, we stayed in St. Louis, which I've share already. There are plenty of pictures of St. Louis on this site already, so I will only put one up showing the river itself.

River Wide

The day we left St. Louis, we drove a route into Kentucky. The pictures from crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky have been shared already, but we did need to cross the Mississippi again before we made it to the Ohio River. We crossed in Cape Girardeau. As we approached the bridge, Mom said, "Is that a church?" She saw the tops of the bridge in the distance and hoped that it was steeple towers. It wasn't. We found a side road along the river and stopped for a nice view.

Cape Girardeau Bridge 8Cape Girardeau Bridge 4

To view the river and not just the bridge, we stopped at a way station shortly after driving near the Cape Girardeau bridge. At this way station, I got a little "gusty" and climbed up on a fence to see over the tree line. Mom got a picture of it, but the picture didn't show the fence. Oops. Here are views of the river from that stop.

River from Waystation 1River from Waystation

Finally, we visited the river one more time. In Memphis, we saw the Mississippi River after the Missouri River and the Ohio River joined the banks. By this point, the river is very large and impressive. There are two bridges in Memphis, connecting Tennessee to Arkansas. We did cross both, much to Mom's fears.

This bridge is Highway 55. Along this bridge, we saw the wide river and the bridge kept going. The bridge is built out over a flood plain.

Hwy 55 Bridge 1Hwy 55 Bridge 2

We walked around the park near the river in Memphis. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the sights. It was just great. Simple to say, but true.

Mississippi River in MemphisMississippi River

The other bridge in Memphis is the Interstate-40 bridge. I liked this one. At night, it is lit up and we saw it coming in the first evening.

1-40 Bridge 1I-40 Bridge 2I-40 Bridge 3Bridge at Night

There is a pyramid in Memphis. I'm not sure what is housed in the structure, but I do understand why the city has erected this type of monument. The Mississippi has been referred to as the Nile of North America and Memphis was named after the Egyptian city. With this in mind, there is a pyramid. It's neat to see.


Along the waterfront, we saw a memorial for Tom Lee. I like how these pictures turned out.

Memorial 2Memorial 1

And here is my mom, sitting by the memorial along the banks of the Mississippi.

Mom in Memphis

When we left Memphis, Mom took a few pictures on the bridge. I like this last one because it does show the bridge and the pyramid.

Leaving Memphis