In My Viewfinder: Life On The Mississippi River

Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher welcome us to Hannibal, Missouri. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

We’ve spent a fun few days on the Mississippi River, paddle wheeling north toward our final destination on Friday morning: St. Paul, Minnesota. We’ll be turning with American Queen and sailing back to St. Louis, so stay tuned.

Today we’re in La Cross, Wisconsin. What a charming city. All along the way, the weather has been gorgeous, with trees ablaze in color, and the river performing its mystical magic. The food on board has been fantastic — even if I am having to steer clear of some of those high-calorie dishes, no matter how good they look — thank goodness for the gym with its two treadmills and stationary bicycle (new Technogym models) as well as dumbbells. I counted 400 calories burned this morning.

The onboard entertainment has been terrific. This is Washington Week on board, and tonight we’ll watch the Presidential Debates in the Grand Saloon. This morning, we watched a presentation about how the broadcast industry is adapting to the digital age by Hari Sreenivasan of the PBS Newshour. Earlier this week, Gwen Ifill, also of PBS Newshour, entertained us with a talk about the news industry, the elections and her career.

The only complaint, if you can call it that, is that internet is spotty. Not American Queen’s fault. This is the Mississippi River, and we are passing through some remote areas. However, internet is free of charge on board, and when it does work, it works well. Nonetheless, I parked myself in an internet café in La Cross to upload this story and photos. They barely do justice to the beauty along the river. To experience that, you’ll have to come along yourself.

We spent the morning in Hannibal, home to Mark Twain. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
I enjoyed touring the Mark Twain Cave System in Hannibal. 45 minutes, $13 entry fee if purchased on American Queen. Normal price $15,95. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
American Queen’s “Steamcoach Tours,” free of charge, hop-on, hop-off, guided city tours. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
We are immersing ourselves in Mark Twain lore while paddle wheeling the Mississippi. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
An impromptu performance by the Juggernaut Jug Band. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Yes, that is Mark Twain, making good use of his iPhone. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Yum! Regina Charboneau’s famous Andouille Hash. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
While in Dubuque, Iowa we took a ride up (and down) on what is billed as the world’s shortest and steepest railway. The $1 fare was included as part of our free guided Steamcoach tour. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
American Queen docked in Dubuque, Iowa. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

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