2016 MEA # 2: The Mighty Mississippi – Start to Finish

Everyone keeps asking me what my favorite part of our Most Excellent Adventure is. Well, to be honest, I really can not pick an overall favorite thing! Everything we did was so unique and wonderful – a true adventure all its own! At each stop, I would proclaim, “This is the best thing, yet!” 🙂 But, I think I can say that some mini-adventures stick out in my mind a tad more than others. This is one…..I call this the “coolest” of mini-adventures! We were able to fully experience (not just see) the Mississippi right from where it starts AND where it ends, as well as see or cross it multiple times along the way – all in one trip!

The Mississippi River begins at Lake Itasca, Minnesota and meanders south for 2,552 miles to the Mississippi Delta at the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It is a massive river – it runs through or along ten states and was used to define the borders for eight of those states (although, the river has since shifted and no longer serves as the border in some places). At several points, the width of the Mississippi is greater than one mile and the deepest point is 200 feet. There are more than 170 bridges and over 40 dams along the Mississippi as it drops 1,475 feet from its source in Northern Minnesota to its base in Louisiana.

But, enough facts…….we had a BLAST on our stop at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. It is the only place anywhere along the Mississippi River where you can actually walk across it…..it is the narrowest, shallowest, and slowest flow, allowing easy wading and playing in the waters. This is the spot of the Mississippi Head Waters (the word Itasca means True Head).  Here are some photos of our experience:

LAKE ITASCA, MINNESOTA

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Me and my brother, Kevin

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My sister-in-law, Lylace, and her sister, Donna, checking out the topographical map of the river

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Me with the Caretaker Woman sculpture

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The Caretaker Woman represents the spirit guide of the Headwaters – GREAT sculpture!

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The first spot on the trail to the headwaters is this stream of the Mississippi – they built steps that you can walk down, across the Mississippi, and back up! It was pretty slippery! Here is Lylace and me – we rolled our pant legs up, but they still got pretty wet! 🙂

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My brother, Kevin, and his wife, Lylace

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The trail continues to the actual headwaters – here I am at the marker with Lake Itasca behind me

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Me – standing in the Mississippi River where it begins!

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Lylace in the river looking out to Lake Itasca

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Me – walking across a log over the Mississippi River

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GATEWAY ARCH, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Just one of several points where we crossed or could see the Mississippi River along our way was in St. Louis, Missouri. The Mississippi River runs directly below the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis. We were in horrid traffic – there was an accident ahead of us – so we couldn’t get any decent photos, but here is what I got – at least it is something! 🙂

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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

When we got to Louisiana, we took a steam boat cruise on the Mississippi in New Orleans. The whole family went – the four of us Adventurers (me, Kevin, Lylace, and Donna) plus Lylace’s son, Sean, his wife, Anna, and their children, Lily and Luke, who live in Houma, LA – and it was a WONDERFUL day! We wandered around the French Quarter (more on that in another post) and boarded the Natchez – one of only two true steam boats still active on the Mississippi River, today. The Natchez cruised from the heart of the French Quarter along the crescent of the Mississippi River – the deepest point on the river is there at 200 feet deep! It was so beautiful and gave us a view of New Orleans that can’t be seen from the streets. I thoroughly enjoyed checking this major bucket list item off – Take a River Boat Cruise on the Mississippi!!! 🙂

On this cruise, we saw everything from sandy beaches with people out for a stroll or fishing, to industry like a Domino Sugar Refinery and oil refineries, to shipping operations, to the beautiful New Orleans skyline…..what a diverse section of the river – just amazing!

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The Natchez from the street before we walked across to the dock

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That person in the yellow rain coat on top of the Natchez was playing beautiful music on a steam powered calliope!!! Cool!!!

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The gang before we boarded – (l-r): me, Kevin, Donna, Luke, Lylace, Sean, Anna, and Lily

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The steam engine room

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Looking down on the paddles at the rear of the boat

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 Me, Kevin and Lylace on the boat – you can also see Sean, Luke, and Lily in the background

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Kevin and Lylace sure look like they are having a great time!

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Lylace with New Orleans in the background

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We could see a lot of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina along the shoreline

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Domino Sugar Refinery — saw lots of sugar cane fields in Louisiana!

I remember when I was managing the Supplier Qualification process at work – Domino Sugar was one of our suppliers and this refinery was our qualified source for it – Hurricane Katrina caused a lot of damage and flooding in their facility and we had to scramble to qualify an alternate source until they were back up and running!

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Oil Refinery

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The Twin Bridges with a Carnival Cruise ship docked on the right hand side

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This building was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina and when it was restored, they put the “You Are Beautiful” moniker on it!

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That’s all for now……where will I take you on the next MEA post?????

2 Comments on “2016 MEA # 2: The Mighty Mississippi – Start to Finish

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