Like many, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as the Mississippi Great River Road until about six years ago when my husband and I came upon a section of it in Wisconsin. I was hooked – instantly – and the first thing I did when I got home was order a map of the entire GRR from the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, laminate it and hang it on my wall. It’s been there to entice me ever since. I have watched my calendar for any opening that would give me time to get to some section of the GRR. When one appeared, I would stand in front of the map and see which area seemed to be calling me. Then just load the car and go.
While I’m preparing for our 90-day journey, I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite moments from some of these previous trips. It’s kind of like the fun of studying travel brochures before you leave on a trip – it stirs things up and gets the spirit of adventure flowing!
One very hot 4th of July weekend I found myself at LeClaire Park in Davenport, Iowa for the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. It’s a pretty park right beside the river that on other weekends would be a serene spot to watch the river roll by. But on this day the park was a sea of lawn chairs, blankets, coolers and people of all ages. Barefoot kids were doing handsprings in the grass, guys were tossing Frisbees off to the side, people were dancing or lined up at the concession tents for cold drinks and bar-b-que and the steamy air was filled with some smokin’ good Blues! It all seemed to fit just right.
A succession of musicians took their place under the band shell and played their souls out. It’s the kind of music that seems to speak of humor in the face of hardship and seems at once to be from another time and timeless. The soulful sounds from this Blues man’s guitar seemed to come through him from somewhere else. I turned around to look at the crowd and many swayed with him, eyes closed, having abandoned their own stories in favor of his. It was all just right!
See you soon! Gayle