Quad Cities

22-08-06 Quad Cities

Who would have thunk it? This is the second time I visited this area in the last four and a half months. Go figure!

We docked in Bettendorf, Iowa, but spent the majority of the day in Davenport. I love the elevated rail lines in this city. All of a sudden I was like, “I’ve been here before!” We pulled into the German American Heritage Center & Museum right before the bridge to Illinois. I had pulled in here in April to avoid going over the bridge. Yup, no way to avoid it. I had no idea there was a museum here.

Apparently, there is a large German population in this area. This is not the kind of museum that would normally excite me, but this was all right. Again, there was a scavenger hunt. Admittedly, it is designed for children, but that was up our alley. 🙂 We watched an interesting movie and toured the artifacts. What was interesting to me were the political cartoons of Ding Darling from about a century ago that brought about discussion on German immigration. The exhibit asked visitors to consider how it plays with today’s issues.

We went back to the American Countess and found the four deck. I knew it was there, but thought it was just a small area around the pilot house. Hardly. Lots of room, chairs, couches, etc. It is a wonderful location to view the river as one clears most of the lines. I also learned that standing near the pilot house connected me to the wifi. 😉 We did have a pilot house tour today.

Dinner, the show, and cocktails ensued although I chilled on the drinking today. I think I need to dry out from a week at the bar. We went through Lock and Dam #16 in Muscatine, Iowa and then beneath the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge.

Enjoyed chilling watching the river roll on.

Dinner, the show, and cocktails ensued although I chilled on the drinking today. I think I need to dry out from a week at the bar. We went through Lock and Dam #16 in Muscatine, Iowa and then beneath the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge. Very kewl!

We had a good day!

Dubuque, IA

22-08-05 Dubuque, IA

We’ve gotten into the routine of getting onto the tour bus first thing each morning and riding it all the way around before getting off. We did so today and then went back into town.

We first went to St Luke’s United Methodist Church. Why? It has over 100 Tiffany windows. They are most impressive! The church itself is pretty and includes a gorgeous pipe organ that are painted Corvette Gold.

We then walked around looking at the murals and completing an Adventure Lab. Dubuque has lots of murals. It’s a town that may very well be very trendy in coming years, but it isn’t quite there today. The old section of town has beautiful brick buildings. Some have been renovated and others are being done now. There just doesn’t seem to be the shopping and restaurants one would expect to make this thriving.

It was hot out today. After the murals, we went to the Dubuque Art Museum. Not only did this have some nice art, it had a scavenger hunt. That is a surefire way to interest us. We had great fun spotting the snippets of art that we had to find. In addition, there were a few pieces of Grant Wood (American Gothic, although that is in Chicago). We enjoyed our time there.

Finally, we were able to take the funicular railway. I love this thing. The story goes that the guy who built it lived at the top of the hill and worked at the bottom. He fashioned a quicker ay to return home for his lunch break. More than a century later, it still stands. Fun times!

Onboard, we ate and drank. The show tonight was a mentalist. Interestingly, Patty was called up. Then she selected me. I know these are all tricks, but the only explanation I had for mine (he was able to guess what I rolled on a large wooden die that I covered) is electronics. I spoke with him at the bar later in the evening. He gave me he can read my gestures. Not buying it.

We had a very good day today.

La Crosse, WI

22-08-04 La Crosse, WI

Half-step, Mississippi uptown toodleloo
Hello baby, I’m gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you, old southern skies
I’m on my way, on my way

Robert Hunter, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

We spent the day in La Crosse, When this trip came up I searched each port to see what there was to see and do. The one thing I came up with that I wanted to do on the whole trip was here in La Crosse. That was merely to have a rock and rye at the La Crosse Distilling Co. because they named their drink Downtown Toodeloo Rock and Rye, a nod to the Grateful Dead.

We began touring the city. Adventure Lab, Riverside International Friendship Gardens, a tour of the Dahl Auto Museum, and then a set of bad directions from our guide. We walked toward the distillery . . . kind of. We had a short time in port today and time was a-wastin. I left my mother and sister so they could return to the boat while I scrambled to the distillery. Made it. I only had time for one even though they encouraged me to stay noting the boat wouldn’t leave me behind. I said I didn’t want to be that guy. I wasn’t a fan of this rock and rye anyhow. Very spicy. Glad I sampled it though.

Today we had perfect weather for enjoying going through the locks. It is rather remarkable that it can lift and drop boats of our size. We had a delay at this lock as the doors were stuck. They sent divers down to fix things.

Fun day!

Red Wing & Setting Sail Down the Mississippi

22-08-03 Red Wing & Sailing the Mississippi

We boarded the American Countess yesterday. Today we awoke and then toured Red Wing. We completed a couple of Adventure Labs as we did. The highlight for me was the pottery demonstration with Richard Spillman. Love his attitude and his art.

The maritime museum was also interesting. Included in that was a model railroad exhibit by the local club. These guys were fun and the models they had were impressive. I enjoyed that.

Lots of public art in Red Wing. Frankly, this is my kind of town. I like it.

In addition, there is the Red Wing Shoe Company. This included the largest boot in the world (611 or something like that). Neat.

We then headed back to the boat. As we shoved off for the first time we learned that there was a problem. The Z drive, which is the combination propeller and rudder had broken last week on one of the engines. That meant that we were going to be pushed down the Mississippi River by a tow boat (oddly named, but tow boats push, tug boats pull), the Peggy Louise. Many were displeased by this. Didn’t matter to me as I was able to get the photographs/videos of the paddle wheel I wanted. For the record, the American Countess had power and did the work getting down the river. The Coast Guard required the tow boat. She helped when extra power was needed and some steering. My understanding is that this is mainly when docking and going through the locks.

We had the celebratory toast to kick off the cruise in the theater with our tap-dancing cruise director. Then it was off to dinner. Robert is our waiter. While not the most proficient waiter, he is a ton of fun! We all had lobster tails for extras to our dinners. This cruise has a good menu.

Sailing down the river is so peaceful. I sat out on the deck all evening and chilled. Quiet, smooth, and beautiful.

The American Countess

We woke up in Bloomington, MN. After breakfast, we headed to the hospitality suite to register for the cruise. If we had arrived earlier yesterday, we could have knocked it out then. We were among the last to check-in. It was here we encountered an issue that plagued us (somewhat) the rest of the voyage. My sister booked the trip, therefore all of our surnames were Phillips, not Owens. We were assured new cards would be issued on the boat. They were. Our surnames were misspelt. Then they didn’t open the door. Then some did, but not others didn’t. Then my mother and my cards got straightened out. Yeah! But Patty’s, whose card wasn’t wrong stopped checking her off the boat. That persisted for the balance of the trip. They just learned who she was. Frankly, they all knew who we were. It was akin to the first day at Wildwood Catholic.

I thought Red Wing was right there near Minneapolis. Not quite. We were not to be on the boat until 4:00, so we took a tour of the Twin Cities. St. Paul is my kind of town. Beautiful! Lovely homes. We had lunch at a tavern there. I had the Irish stew.

Back onto the charter bus (these things were very comfortable) where we headed to Minneapolis. Fun touring that city as well. The Guthrie Theater is beautiful! We toured Minnehaha Falls where Hiawatha and Minehaha stand. We saw the stadium where the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. It was a grand tour. Then we headed to the boat.

We had the safety drill. There were only two life vests in our room. We noticed there were only two of everything. That all worked out as I moved to my own room that evening. Awesome!

We found the bar and Luke our bartender. This is where I spent much of the onboard time on the boat. Had a Manhattan. He used the cherry juice from Luxardo. Interesting. This thing was at least double the volume I am used to. We had dinner. We met our tablemates, Joy and Ron from Pittsburgh. We all got along well.

We don’t sail until tomorrow. We’re all ready!

22-08-02 Minneapolis to Red Wing, MN

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom SawyerThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I haven’t read this before. I am sure I have. But when I wenr searching for a classic novel to read, I came across list after list. Each time I looked at the list, this book was marked unread by me.

I know the story. I have fond memories of the Johnny Whitaker and Jody Foster movie of this. Perhaps that is where my knowledge comes from. Yet, I have a distinctly different memory of the fence scene, which leads me to believe I read this at some point. I must have.

Anyhow, I read this now. The big takeaway for me is that Twain was a master storyteller. The older I become, the more enamored with storytelling I become. Twain lays out a perfectly told tale. The anxiety the reader experiences when Injun Joe is near is palpable.

Tom’s love for Becky is complete. You just have to love Becky. And how life was idyllic: she tells her father the magnanimous gesture Tom performed.

How can one not love Tom? Huck comes off more skittish here than I recall from Huckleberry Finn.

Just a marvelously well-tole story. Love it!
In preparation for sailing down the Mississippi River, I reread Huckleberry Finn. After that, I decided to tackle this again.

My image of this story is different from the review I left above. Tom seemed to be punkish to me this time around. Sure, he still loves Becky completely and he has a heart somewhere inside. But he is totally self-absorbed (I know, he’s just a boy). He seems to cause trouble that he would be better off not participating in.

He does come through, however. I suppose that does indeed make up for all the misfortunes he causes.

Twain writes well. The storytelling he employs is different from what we use today. It seems that many of the scenes are disconnected from the plot and are merely character-building scenes. Likewise, he shifts the story at times abruptly without finishing the thought, as it were.

In the end, Huckleberry Finn wins out for me in comparison, but this is no slouch of a story.

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Made It to Minnesota


Travel today while odd, was without issue.

I flew out of Philadelphia to Denver on a full plane. I had an couple about my age, perhaps a few years older than I, sitting next to me. Yeah, they made out in the seats. Yuck! But I landed fine and found Mom, who was already at the gate. For some reason, Southwest thought we should both fly to Denver before Minneapolis. We sat across the aisle from one another. It was a larger plane and far more comfortable.

Patty greeted us at the gate. We waited forever for the luggage to come, but once we did we headed to the Mall of America where our hotel was. Once checked in, we walked across the street (after circumnavigating the parking lot) to Hazelwood for dinner. It’s the second time I have dined here. Had the twin pork chops and a Manhattan.

Vacation has commenced.

Dot . . . Dot . . . Dot . . .

Let’s pause for a moment to recognize a moment. Dad’s Hat Distillery canceled my tour for Saturday due to the extreme heat expectation. I did not become emotional. I just removed it from the calendar and continued on . . . Things are changing. Usually, as I come across things as I re-build this blog I become excited and then start thinking I should do that stuff again. When I come to Toastmasters posts, all of a sudden I want to do Toastmasters again. Homebrewing was the same. And geocaching has been too. But I’ve taken a break from the blog and from geocaching. I just came across some caches that I am posting. I noted that I have absolutely no passion for returning. Who knows what will happen, but my caching days may be over (save what flowers22 drags me to) . . . Carnitas! Now that’s some good stuff . . . One of the benefits of the no single-use bags mandate in New Jersey is that beneath my sink is neater. I have finally run out of single-use bags and am now working on the single-use bags I had to purchase. No savings here. Instead of recycling bags, I now actually purchase single-use bags. The system is flawed . . . Locks on doors. Broken handles, No way to live . . . We all want to be heroes, but reality says otherwise. We’re just humans doing human things. It’s not heroic, it’s life . . .

Fresh Jersey White Peaches Added to the Rumtopf

22-07-31 Fresh Jersey White Peaches Added to the Rumtopf

This project has taught me some things. I began the rumtopf with strawberries. I think of strawberry season the very beginning of June. Strawberries were ending that week. Likewise, I think of peaches as August, yet I have been seeing peaches everywhere. The other day I stopped at Ingraldi’s as I needed some items. They had peaches. I asked if they were Jersey peaches. Indeed! Then I heard how everything came in early this year. They’ve had peaches all month.

Well then!

Picked up three quarts ($5 per). That was 15 peaches. I opted for white for no reason.

Here’s the thing. I like peaches, but much like with oranges, I don’t eat them. They are too much work. It’s been since childhood that I cut open a fresh peach on my own. Today was interesting.

I knew peeling peaches wasn’t done with a vegetable peeler as the flesh gets cuts up. I looked at some videos. It seemed easy enough. First I scored an X in the bottom of the peaches’ skin. Then I boiled some water, tossed in six peaches at a time for 30 seconds. Took them out to an ice bath, and repeated.

Peeling the peaches at this point could not have been easier. The skins came right off.

Then I set to slicing the peaches. Ugh.

These things are slippery than eels without skins on them. And pitting them was a chore on a few of the peaches. Oh, everything was ripe, it’s just that I was trying to preserve the flesh and well things got messy.

All of a sudden I was concerned that the peaches would turn brown, so I opened the rumtopf and just placed the slices right into the pot. Filled it all the way.

I had planned on stopping with peaches. It’s a good thing for there is no more room in the two-gallon pot. Now it’s time for the alcohol to do it’s thing.

my verse

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