Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rivers And Waterways

I chose our route for speed as much as I did for cooler temperatures. The temperatures got a bit cooler as we headed north, but not by much. The route took us onto the Interstate a few times just to save some time, then dropped back onto the smaller and more scenic roads. I managed to get us on a nice road along the east side of the Mississippi River, from Prairie Du Chien to La Crosse in Wisconsin. Again, it was a "Red Ribbon" road in the old Rand McNally Atlas, and met that rating with us as well.
Almost every trip we take has us driving along or across the Mighty Mississippi River. It seems this trip is no different. We have been at the head waters in Itasca State Park where the Mississippi River is but a trickle and have seen it in all its glory in the Crescent City (New Orleans, LA). Our travels have taken us to St Louis when its banks were overflowing and to Hannibal, Missouri with the National Guard watching flood waters on the verge of evacuating the town. We have been on the banks of the Mississippi in Minneapolis, MN and Memphis, TN. And when we die our ashes will travel the full length of that great river.
The Mississippi River has a huge system of locks running the full length of the River. We stopped at one of the locks located at Lynxville, Wisconsin while travellling down scenic highway 35 on this last trip.

There was signage explaining how the locks are used to adjust the depth of the river, allowing the huge container ships to come up the full length of the river as far north as Minneapolis. If not for the lock systems, there would be areas that are too shallow for these huge barges to go. The signage explained how the river depth is regulated with the lock system, allowing the naturally shallow areas to hold more water.
I don't know why I like the lock systems and dams so much, but water intrigues me. And the flow of water fascinates me. How can water keep flowing year after year and not run out? I know, it rains and snows, and replenishes the head waters. And all the smaller streams feed the larger ones. But really, what an amazing feat, keeping all these water systems running over the mileniums. It blows me away.

The Mississippi River is such a huge river, and it is always so lush around the banks no matter where we are along its vast length. The section we were travelling on this trip was filled with almost constant small islands of green.
We left the Mississippi in La Crosse, WI, crossing into Minnesota and heading west. This will not be our last encounter with the Mighty Mississippi, at least not yet!

1 comment:

  1. "I don't know why I like the lock systems and dams so much, but water intrigues me. And the flow of water fascinates me."

    That is true for many folks but it is much easier to satisfy that quest with a boat