With trees blazing the bright colors of autumn all along the way, the American Queen’s giant red paddlewheel turned round and round to propel us forward. We traveled yesterday afternoon and last night on the largest paddlewheeler ever built from Red Wing, Minnesota to dock this morning in La Cross, Wisconsin.
La Cross is a town that knows how to show hospitality. Last week when we were here, the mayor and his welcoming party, all dressed in period clothing, stood on the river banks to greet us and, hours later, wave us goodbye. The mayor even made a heartfelt speech, using no public address system, to express his appreciation for our visit. A heartfelt applause followed from passengers on deck.
Indeed, big parts of the appeal of traveling along one of the world’s most storied rivers are the towns and cities we are calling in along the way. The towns are a throwback to yesteryear. The people here in America’s heartland have been warm and welcoming. Life seems to be a bit slower here than in the hustle-bustle cities of the East and West coasts, and people along the river have time to stop and chat and to make us feel as if missing the boat would not be such a bad thing after all.
But oh what a boat, and one not to miss. It’s quite an experience to paddle along the Mississippi, something that should go on every traveler’s must-do list.
Yesterday, we passed long stretches of river bank ablaze in fall foliage. All I had to do was open the French doors of my stateroom to admire the passing scenery or stand out on the broad decks. For those of you unable to be here with me and the other 400-plus passengers on board, here are a few photos to help you enjoy this beautiful Sunday here on the Mississippi River.