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5/13 - 5/18/2014 - From the Missouri to the Mississippi


We called our new boss, Bret, Monday, (5/13) to see how the Mississippi River situation was by our soon to be home. Here's a link to where we will eventually be working -  http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/MississippiRiverProject/Recreation/PleasantCreek.aspx

The bad news is the river is rising and it doesn't look like we'll be able to go there for a few more weeks. The good news is they are sending us to another Corp of Engineers (COE) Park until we can get in ours and the park we will be waiting at is Blandings Landing just outside of Galena, IL.   So, we will be in Illinois and not working - we'll have to find things to do, any suggestions?

On Tuesday night we finally checked out one of the local eating establishments, The Bucksnort Pub. Tuesday nights are their pizza special nights- any size and any toppings for $12.99.  Such a good deal and the pizza was delicious.   We even had dessert; fried bread pudding with ice cream for me and a dish of ice cream for Marty - YUM!
For our last day in western Iowa we decided to do an AVA walk.  We drove across the Missouri River and picked up our route map for the Downtown Omaha 10K walk.  The walk started near the ConAgra Foods Headquarters and took us around a small lake on their property.  We then crossed over some railroad tracks and headed east to walk along the Missouri River.

Omaha and the Missouri River played a major role in the westward expansion of the U.S.  There are numerous sculptures in the downtown area depicting this.  One park has life-size sculptures of three covered wagons along with the people and animals that would have ridden or walked along side them.   On another block there were bronze sculptures of buffalo including one that was encased into the corner of the building - the front end and back end exposed.
The above mural titled "Fertile Ground" was painted on the Energy Systems Building by muralist Meg Saligman.  When it was completed in 2009 it was the largest mural in the U.S. at 32,000 sq. ft.

We enjoyed our walk in downtown Omaha and had some fun clowning around.
A "mime" is a terrible thing to waste



Pretty in Pink

Outstanding in Orange
Marty's new friend - Chef Boyardee






















We left Arrowhead Park on Thursday (5/15) and headed west to Hanover, IL.  We drove a little over 300 miles and it started raining for about the last 100.  We crossed the Mississippi River and entered Illinois; Hanover is about 8 miles south of Galena which makes it nice for day trips into Southwestern Wisconsin, Northeastern Iowa and, of course, Illinois.
We're baaaack

We reached the campground around 3:30 and discovered that we will be parked on grass.  We walked around the campsites to determine which one would be best for us.  We chose #12 and backed into a lovely site framed by trees overlooking the Mississippi River.  We unhitched the rig and got all set up.  Unfortunately we discovered that we couldn't get our door to close because we weren't level so we had to pack everything up and move over to site #8.  We are now level and still have a beautiful view of the river.  This was all done in a steady drizzle but it's the worst weather we've dealt with while setting up so we really can't complain. It was cold and drizzly for the rest of the evening so we just settled in and read and watched television.

We drove into Galena for breakfast on Friday morning (5/16/) and did a quick walk through the downtown area.  There are lots of cute shops and I'm sure we'll be back.  After leaving Galena we
The only spot that's dry is our site
decided to check out our future home at Pleasant Creek Corps of Engineers Park.  This park is in Iowa on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Actually, once we got there, we discovered that it's no longer on the banks!  The park is pretty much all underwater and it doesn't look like we will be camp-hosting any time soon :(.   We may get in there early June but if it keeps raining maybe we won't be camp-hosting at all.


Our future home - bring your own boat!
We did a little more exploring on Saturday.  We took the country road from our campground and headed south, ending up at Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savannah, IL.  We stopped for a few photos at a couple of scenic overlooks and then took the bridge over the Mississippi into Iowa.
Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savannah, IL

Looking out over the Mississippi River













Photo taken in the infrared spectrum
We stopped again at our future home to see if things had improved in the last 24 hours - they haven't.  We continued our drive on 52 and decided to check out the "Crystal Cave" near  Dubuque.

Here's the story of the Crystal Cave - in 1868 lead miners drilled 40' into the ground looking for lead.  They didn't find much lead but they did discover a natural cave.  In 1932, Bernard Markus (not Merkes - darn!), one of the original lead miners opened it to the public naming it Crystal Lake Cave.  The cave maintains a constant temperature of 51 degrees which would make it a nice place to spend a hot July afternoon.   We took the 45 minute tour and Marty took lots of pictures of the photogenic stalacites and stalagmites.  It was a pretty cool cave with some tight passageways, low ceilings, and little brown bats hanging from the ceiling (luckily not in the low ceiling part!)

Brown Bat just hanging around
Now entering the Bat Cave aka the Crystal Cave
     
STALACTITES AND STALAGMITES

Stalactites grow from the ceiling and hang down.  Stalagmites are the lower formations.




That's it for this week, it's nice to be back in Illinois,