One of the items on our "bucket list" is taking a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River someplace in the southern U.S. What we didn’t expect was that we'd take a (shortened) version in the midwestern state of Wisconsin. (We still plan to take the longer one.)
Riverboat rides conjure up images of traveling on the Mississippi in the South (thanks to movies). Our Mississippi River ride was on the La Crosse Queen VII, a modern day replica of a Mississippi River boat that cruises from its home port in La Crosse. It docks at the waterfront near a barge designed to resemble an old side wheel style showboat; it's the ticket office and gift shop.
The boat was built in 2008 in WI and is similar to Mississippi River boats from the early 1900’s. It's one of the few authentic paddle wheel river boats still operating in the U.S.In keeping with tradition, the boat was built with stern wheels that are its only means of propulsion. It has a split stern wheel and each half is run by a twin diesel engine which turn the paddles and give it better maneuverability. By comparison, most Mississippi River paddle wheelers operating today have a "free wheeling" paddle wheel at the stern of the boat for visual effect and hidden engines are used for the real operating power.
Our excursion was a 75-minute sightseeing excursion with on-board narration. h\Here's some of the sights along the route which was a loop up and down part of the river.
These twin bridges that cross the Mississippi in La Crosse WI are called the "Big Blue Bridges." One connects La Crosse, WI to La Crescent, MN; the other connects downtown La Crosse to Barron Island.La Crosse Rail Bridge is a swing bridge that spans the Mississippi River between La Crescent, MN and La Crosse, WI. The original bridge was one of the first 15 bridges across the Mississippi River and was designed and built in 1876 by Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.
We were advised to be on the lookout for eagles which are known to frequent the area. While several were spotted flying overhead, most of my zoom-in attempts were poorly focused. However, here's a shot of what appears to beca golden eagle.
There were multiple sightings of turtles sunning on downed trees along the river. It seemed the perfect way to spend a very warm afternoon.
While we were on the river boat, these song lyrics came to mind:
You know that big wheel keep on turnin'
Proud Mary keep on burnin'
And we're rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
“Proud Mary” is a the title of a rock song written by John Fogarty and recorded in 1968 by his band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was recorded twice in 1969 by Solomon Burke as well as the Checkmates Ltd. Then, in 1970 Ike and Tina Turner recorded a version that became a classic hit.
Go ahead and sing it (you know you want to) but it may become a (musical) earworm.