Monday, August 9, 2010

The Kentucky Trip: Homeward Bound

Before we knew it we were back in the van heading home.  On the way back we decided to split the drive up a little and spend the night in Hannibal, MO.

The good byes were harder this time.  We didn't know when we would see them again.  But all good things come to an end and we still had a long drive in front of us.

Six hours later we pulled into the Days Inn on Hwy 61 in Hannibal.  The check in service left much to be desired, and I knew right away that if we are every in Hannibal again we will not be staying at this hotel.

We unloaded the car and dove right into the pool.  That sure was refreshing!  We swam for about half an hour, got cleaned up and headed to town for some dinner. 

The check in gal at the desk was no help on places to eat.  We drove down the highway a bit and only found chain restaurants so we ended up at a Golden Coral.  We don't have these at home so that's a plus but it is not at all what we were looking for.

The next morning, Heidi and I hit the pool again before packing up.  After check out we drove to downtown Hannibal for a Steamboat Ride on the Mississippi.

Hannibal is famous for Mark Twain.  This is the town where he grew up and he set both The Adventures of Huck Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer here.

The river was so high, the flood gates were closed to keep the town from drowning.  We were unable to find the dock for the Steamboat quickly and ended up driving around the little town. 

We found a number of Diners and Cafes as well as shops and a status of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.  I looked like a fun place to spend a weekend.  I certainly would like to come back and explore the town when Heidi is a bit older.

The Steamboat ride was a lot of fun and I am glad we picked that as our one tourist activity before heading back to Minneapolis.

The only thing was the heat.  It was unbearably hot.  Heidi got suntan lotion in her eye almost right away and was a crab for the entire ride.  There were no puppies around to distract her from the sweaty hot day.

She spent most of the ride looking like this, which made me happy her admission was free.

The name of the Steamboat was The Mark Twain.  The Captain gave a narrative while we went quickly down and slowly back up the river.

The water was crazy muddy.  Looks like coffee with cream!  You could not see anything in the water unless it was sticking out.  If there was a large tree right under the surface you would only know it was there when you hit it.

That tug boat is pretty cool.  In this picture you can see the flood wall.  It connects to that grassy hill and goes off to the right of the picture giving a jailed off appearance.  The railroad tracks are on the river side of the wall and a train passed when we were waiting to launch.  I wander how flooded the track have to be before the trains stop.

The Captain explained that BNSF was headquartered in Hannibal until they were sick of all the flooding.  They moved a few miles up river and now they only flood once a year.

The Captain also entertained us with a corny story about their Lover's Leap seen above with the American Flag.  I will not ruin the ending, in case anyone intents to take this Steamboat in the future, but I will warn you, it's a big groan.

The tugs in this part of the river can carry 12 to 16 barges at a time!  When I returned to work, I checked in with a co-worker who owns a boat they keep on the Mississippi in St. Paul.  She explained that in the Locks in the Twin Cities can hold two barges, side by side, at a maximum, at a time.  If this tug was up here, it would take him five hours to get through the lock.

And look at the size of that tug!!  The Captain talked about how the most important person on the tug was the Chef.  Without a good chef they are unable to keep good staff.  I love to cook and I love the river but I think I will pass on that job.

Looking at this picture, I think Makayla was not as impressed with this ride as I was.  I would not have known this since she just sat in her seat and occupied Heidi.  She never said a word about how hot it was or how the sun was slowly killing her.  Polar opposite from Heidi, who gained the name "Patron Saint of Eternal Patience" while on this trip.

The water was so high this island was completely submerged.  Only the trees stuck out of the water.  When slowly crawling back up the river we were able to hear all kinds of birds, hundred or thousands of them, calling from the island.  We were looking for other wild life but nothing ventured out to the edges for us.

This is a federal island and is open for camping.  We saw an outhouse on the North end of the island.  If you are willing to canoe out to it and if it is not completely under water, you can camp there.  But the Captain said snakes live there so I will not be caught on that island any time soon.

One of the last sights before returning to port was the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.  According to Wikipedia it was constructed in 1933 and has been lit at three separate times by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President John F. Kennedy, and President Bill Clinton.  It is also on my list for placed to visit on our return.

Then the Captain announced we were about to dock and Heidi turned into this child.  She knew it was about time to find some air conditioning and with air conditioning comes Happy Heidi.

Once docked we jumped into our burning hot van, cranked the air, and headed back out to Highway 61 and back to the Twin Cities.

All in all, we had a great time.  We were had a blast with Jess and the kids.  And the time in Hannibal was enjoyable.  I am already looking forward to our return.

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