Our 2.5 day itinerary:
- Initially westbound through all of Illinois to Galena (Illinois),
- cross the Mississippi to Dubuque (Iowa),
- then northbound along the western riverbank to La Crescent (Minnesota),
- cross the river again to La Crosse (Wisconsin) to spend the night
- back south along the eastern riverbank to Prairie du Chien (Wisconsin),
- cross back and forth to Lansing (Iowa) because we liked that part of the road so much
- eastbound along the Wisconsin River to Madison (Wisconsin) to spend the night
- back home to Highland Park
The word Mississippi itself comes from Messipi, the French rendering of the Anishinaabe/Algonquin native american name for the river, Misi-ziibi (Great River). It is definitely not a little creek, looking more like small lakes at many places. Even now, at historic low levels after the long summer heat and drought that has burned the cornfields that make up most of the Midwest. On the picture below from Minnesota, the distance to the other side in Wisconsin is about 4 km.
Many of the names of towns, counties, rivers, forests and even states have their origin in the language of the native american tribes that once roamed these areas, or the interpretation of these original names by French explorers. The French were the first Europeans to explore - and claim - the vast Louisiana Territory that spanned from Canada all the way south to the mound of the Mississippi in New Orleans. After selling it first to Spain, the French emperor Napoleon bought it back only to cut a deal several years later with the U.S. at a meager 40 cents per acre in today's money. Other than names, nothing of French influence is seen today in the upper Mississippi valley. In contrast, the towns and villages along the river are true americana that has past its heydays for a couple of decades. But the area is very beautiful, the people very friendly, the lifestyle very outdoorish and down-to-earth, or perhaps down-to-the-river is a more fitting term. This still is Huckleberry Finn territory.
This holiday weekend, people traditionally celebrate the last days of Summer, which means boating, fishing, canoeing or cruising with motorbikes along the mighty Mississippi. GABROEN is not yet ready to say goodbye to Summer, but if we must, this is not a bad place to do it. So long..............