Monday, 31 August 2015


Flying from Cassville, Wisconson.

These farms are on the Wisconsin side the river.
Hilly country, and lots of careful contouring to make the best use of the soil,
Makes for lots of beautiful patterns from the air.

These are pre-Columbian Indian burial mounds.
Overlooking the river.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Now the river is getting really interesting!

Flying from Cassville, Wisconson.

You couldn't find an airstrip any closer to the river,
and really quiet, all to myself......

Finally the river is big enough for barge traffic.

It was fascinating to watch this barge maneuver into the lock.
It was very carefully and precisely done,
but I guess once you've done it hundreds of times......
There are 29 such dams and locks between Minneapolis, and St Louis.
The dams are placed to maintain at least 9 feet of depth for the barges.
It looks like they'll have to split the barges to fit in.
It was a slow maneuver, 
and I didn't have enough fuel to stay any longer....
Here's another lock,
and they've split the tow and warped the front portion through the lock,
and now the rear section is preparing to enter.

 The John Deere factory at Dubuque, Iowa
It's enormous!
And of course it has to be, for all of the 'green machinery' we see everywhere.
When I fly over agricultural country I notice all the yellow wheels that I see down there.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Nauvoo, Illinois.

The Mormon's leader, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum,
were assassinated here in Nauvoo in 1844.
At the time, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo.
Earlier the Mormons had been violently driven out of  Kirkland, Ohio, and Gallatin, Missouri.
From here they made their long trek to Utah, to try to evade such persecution.....

They started this temple at that time, but couldn't finish it before they had to leave.
It was finally finished to this impressive standard,
in 2002.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Mark Twain country

Flying from Lewis County airfield, MO.

This is Hannibal, Missouri,
birthplace of Mark Twain,
and the scene for the favorite stories of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
Now with a Walmart.....

Lots of tourist attractions....

We know that the 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' is fiction,
but Mark Twain knew the Mississippi River and it's people so well,
that I like to imagine that it really happened just like that.
Following along that story, this could very well be Jackson Island,
where Huck met up with Jim the slave,
and they started their adventure voyage down the river....

There's lots of industry along the river now.

This is a typical town along the river,
with grain silos to ship all the corn that's grown around here.

Vast amounts of corn and soy beans shipped down the river to the port of New Orleans

A corn harvesting crew moving to the next job.
I wish that I had photographed more of that corn growing land.
It just goes on and on and on, 
so productive....

Saturday, 22 August 2015

High tension in St Louis....

What a day!

Had my breakfast in a quiet road stop overlooking the Mississippi, ideal.....
Then a nice quiet drive along empty country roads,
until St Louis, 
when I was suddenly on busy freeways again.
Found my way to the National Great Rivers Museum,
and had a very interesting tour of the locks there.

Being Sunday, I didn't think the traffic would be too bad,
and hoped that the GPS would know the easiest way,
but not so......up came a sign.....
Now, detours are dreaded, cause this old GPS doesn't know about them,
 and it gets just as confused as I do....
While following those poorly presented detour signs,
I started around a corner and then confronted a 'ROAD CLOSED sign....
Couldn't back up because of the long trailer behind, so was trapped!
The barrier was only half across the road, so I got around it carefully,
planning to make a U-turn and get out of there,
then confronted by a policeman who ordered harshly to "Stop right there!"
He came to my window and very rudely and abusively shouted,
"What do you think you're doing, crossing a police barrier???"
(Very over the top abusive for the situation...)
So I kept my hands clearly on the steering wheel and said gently,
"Please Sir, I'm lost and don't want to be here, and which way out, please Sir???"
He said vaguely and roughly, "... ya got to get on I-70 East,..." then sent me down a street.
A few blocks later another sign "Road closed ahead",
so couldn't get to I-70 East that way.....
Then the GPS took me down and around and around back streets
in a very shabby old industrial area, mostly deserted, and spooky....
except for about 8 black guys, in all black clothing, coming out of a doorway....
Now that really felt disquieting, so I didn't stop to ask them directions.....
(Maybe that was pre-judging  them unfairly,
but it's that wariness has kept me out of trouble for so many years...)
Finally had to backtrack to the intersection with the policeman,
and took my own guess on another street, which turned out to be correct,
and I got the heck out of there......
Of course memories of recent troubles in Ferguson, which is part of St Louis,
just added to the tension!
So I was REALLY glad to get out of there!

Didn't need this sort of 'adventure',
 but it sure will be memorable.....

Earlier on that detour I had also got lost, and stopped to ask a policeman,
He politely said "Follow me..." and led me to the way I needed to go.
He was a black policeman, the rude abusive one was white....
Not judging, just sayn it as it happened......

Finally camped on a quiet, deserted airfield at Perryville, Missouri.
Watching the eclipse of the moon, when there's a break in the clouds,
and sucking on a bottle of E&J brandy to unwind.....

This the best photo of the eclipse that I could get, cause I don't have a telephoto or tripod....

Camped by the Mississippi

I was always looking for a campsite by the river, but industry and upmarket country residences had most of the river closed off.....
But the little town of Louisiana, Missouri was ideal.
A real working class town, with enormous grain silos and focus on working on the river...
Watched this tow boat maneuver his barges through the swinging rail bridge.
Another smaller tow boat came out and pushed against the front barge 
to help slow the drift downstream and center the barges.
Very skilled operators.

Then this replica of an old paddle-wheeler came by.
Just like the old days of the river.

But now it's all luxury c.lass passengers.
The 'American Queen'.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cairo, IL

Flying from Mississippi County airfield.

The town of Cairo, Illinois (pronounced Kay'-ro hereabouts) is at the confluence of the 
Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers.
The Ohio entering from the right,
is much larger by volume  than the Mississippi.

This junction is much mentioned in Huck and Jim's raft trip down the river,
because the objective for Jim was to get to Illinois, on the Ohio side,
which was a 'Free State' at this time, where he could be free from slavery.
But they missed the junction in the night and had to continue down the river,
because they couldn't turn a raft around and go upstream......

Lots of barge traffic on the river downstream from Cairo...

Patterns on the ground show many old courses of the wandering river...

Some folk reckon that the Grangerford's place, mentioned in Huck Finn's adventure,
would have been somewhere just south of here.,
but too much threatening cloud for me to fly farther that way today.....

Sunday, 16 August 2015

More River

Flying from Byerley airstrip, near Lake Providence, LA.

 How's that for a load, 25 barges going down river,
one towboat with probably a 5 man crew.
This would be equivalent to 335 jumbo rail cars,
or 1450 large semi trucks!

The river is low now, even for this time of year....

 They're forever doing maintenance to keep the stream flowing deep.
These groins deflect the flow to the outside of the bend.
And cause silt to deposit behind them.

 All this lower river is confined by levee banks,
to prevent flooding of the lower flood plain.

Improving the levee.....

 The Greenville Bridge, and ever present levee.

It's a beautiful bridge, 
only 10 years old and almost glows in the sunlight....
Bridges are such valuable infrastructure in this river-dominated country....

Some more farming patterns, very precise.

This would be somewhere near where some folk reckon that,
the Phelps Farm, mentioned in Huck Finn's adventures, would have been....

Here's a very secluded hideaway....


This is the very first photo that I took when I flew my first sightseeing flight in 2012.
And knew that I wanted to return for a better look at this mighty Mississippi River!