Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota

I confess that I largely kept my head down in Missouri.  Not that I don't like Missouri, I was just busy sewing.  We passed Joplin and were surprised to see even a bit of it standing, after the news reports we'd seen here in Britain.  Bill's plan had been to head over to the Mississippi River and drive alongside, but because of the recent flooding we kept getting sent away on detours, so there wasn't much River to see. 

We spent the night in Springfield and the next morning was when one of Bill's very few driving errors almost occurred.  It's dead easy to forget which side of the road to be on, particularly first thing in the morning.  As it was a large divided road leading to the intersection of major highways, I was glad I happened to be watching at the time and caught it.  I've done nearly the same myself on occasion.

Every now and then Bill would comment on how old some building looked and I would remind him that the area around the Mississippi attracted the early explorers, trappers and traders.  The towns built along the Mississippi would of course be rich in history.  However, we drove on past.

One place where we could actually see the river was in Ft. Madison, Iowa.  

 I was excited to see the old brick warehouses were being converted into riverside flats.

It looked like a fun place to explore, another time. 

I remember seeing a sign for Nauvoo, IL, just on the other side of the river.  Having lived in Salt Lake City for four years and having read a book about the history of the Mormons from the LDS temple, I couldn't help but know about Nauvoo.   You don't, of course, have to believe everything you read, but either way it's a pretty interesting story.   

I was really intrigued by this lovely, if shabby, old building on a sharp bend.  I know it was on Highway 61 and there was a railroad just on the right (and the River beyond).  I couldn't find it anywhere in Ft. Madison, Iowa.  That would be because it is in Muscatine.  I still can't tell what that building is, but there are some amazing apartments for rent just next door...with 1930's Art Deco details {begging puppy-whine} 

Then we stopped at this rest stop that overlooked the River; you know, where Bill spotted the Exotic Tourist Bird, Oklahomae englandii.   I know this was in Iowa because a lady came up and spoke to us.  She grew up in Dubuque (a word that is surprisingly difficult to say for a Brit; just like Durham in England and Durham, NC don't sound quite the same). 

 Her husband is a retired physics professor and she clearly loved her home state.  She kept telling us we really needed to try some Iowa sweet corn.  We didn't manage it this trip, but she was such a good ambassador I'm sure I'll remember to do so the next time we're in the area.

At some point we veered away from the Mississippi (I know I'm old because I no longer delight in that word, finding it tedious to type; really sad of me, isn't it?) and headed for Rochester MN where we spent the night.  On the road Bill chose there were small towns one after another.  We noticed that each town either had a Lutheran church or a Catholic church, almost alternating, but we never saw both.  Of course those were the two main religions in Germany.  My Grandpa was raised Catholic and my Grandma was raised Lutheran.   Those farm houses looked solid, respectable and quietly prosperous.

Rochester is of course is the home of the famous Mayo Clinic and had we needed it, we could have had a free shuttle bus to an appointment.  As it was, I felt disgustingly healthy next to most of the other room tenants.

We did get to experience a real thunderstorm; they are comparatively rare here in Britain and I miss the lightning, the thunder and the buckets of warm rain.  Think of me the next time your windows are rattling and know that I envy you.  The view from our window wasn't great, but the cloud formations made us both think there must be a little lake in the sky there on the right.

We are easily amused, aren't we?  Personally, I think it's the best way to be.


Jo said...

As we are travelling North, one of the comments we made in WI was about the number of Catholic and Luthern churches. There were huge Catholic churches and schools across the street from each other and we wondered where they got all the people to keep them in existance.

Shelley said...

Over here, 'private' schools are called 'public' and so it keeps me pretty confused. One thing I can say is that if you can get your kid into a Catholic school it's considered a good deal and I guess - for a fee - the Catholic schools will take them.

Terri said...

Do you have a British accent by now? I'm curious because of the woman in Iowa...and wondering if the two of you seemed exotic to her.

Shelley said...

Terri - What a laugh! The most frequent comment people make to me is to note that for all that I've lived in England almost 16 years, I've still not lost my Oklahoma accent! It's less than it was perhaps, but still quite recognisable. Bill, on the other hand, has a lovely English/Geordie accent. Broad Geordie is very Scots sounding, but he went to University in London and so his is closer to 'standard' English. Him, she'll have found exotic.