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Great Day along the Mississippi River

A great day to travel through Missouri and end up in the extreme southeast corner of Iowa in Keokuk! Today’s highlights include a retelling of the day’s events as well as a few words about topography and architecture.

Woke up an grabbed a bite to eat, got gas on the way out of town. Headed up I-55 towards St. Louis and then took loop 270 around to I-70. Please note comments on topography below. Got off I-70 at Exit 220 (Hwy 79) and followed that all the way to Hannibal. The first stretch didn’t go too close to the Mississippi, but once I got around 30 miles in on the road we pretty much hugged the River the rest of the way to Hannibal. It was beautiful, even though it did rain a bit – nothing too hard, but some rain. I also may have had a sing-a-long fest at the top of my lungs with some great tunes including:

· “Whip It” – Devo

· “I’m so Excited” – Pointer Sisters

· “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynard Skynard

· “Respect” – Erasure

· “Photograph” – Def Leppard

· “Nothin’ But a Good Time” – Poison

· “Believe” – Cher

· “Come on Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

· “Celebration” – Kool and the Gang

· “Can’t Stop This Feeling” – Justin Timberlake

· “The Walker” – Fitz and the Tantrums

· “1999” – Prince

Well… you get the idea. It was fun and I didn’t even get hoarse.

Got to Hannibal shortly before noon and found my way to Main Street and the Mark Twain Museum. There are actually 7 homes/sites to see as part of the tour. I started out in the museum, which had renditions from 5 of his works on the main level, focused on his career as a steamboat captain on the mezzanine, and then had numerous Norman Rockwell paintings of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. That was pretty cool.

Once I was done there, I walked up Main Street to the location where all the other sites are located: his boyhood home (super small), “Huckleberry Finn’s” home (even more spartan), the house where Becky Thatcher lived (not her real name), and a couple of other houses.

Sat along the River and had some lunch – it was getting kind of cold and windy, but still fun to be on the river. Drove across into Illinois and up I-172 to Illinois 96 to Nauvoo. Nauvoo is where Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other Mormons established a settlement in 1839. After Joseph Smith was gunned down in 1844, Brigham Young ultimately started the Mormon trek west in 1846. It was pretty interesting, and the drive along the River between Hamilton and Nauvoo was nothing short of spectactular!

From Nauvoo I backtracked to Hamilton and crossed the River into Iowa at Keokuk. You can’t get much more Southeast Iowa than this – but it still counts, as you’ll see by where I had dinner Thursday evening! HA!

Friday I’ll be heading to Iowa City, about 90 minutes from here; planning to stop in the Amish community near Kalona. Saw some Amish this evening at the Hy-Vee grocery store.

Today’s total odometer: 822.3 miles total; Drove 317.8 miles today.

Enjoy the pictures – a few posted at bottom of this post and there is an album posted on Google Photos with more:

So, for those of you still willing to read on for some deeper musings, here are my comments about topography and architecture:


Once I hit the Mississippi Valley Wednesday afternoon, I was amazed at how flat it is, even once I crossed into Missouri. Southern Tennessee was lush rolling hills as expected, but the flatness reminded me of Illinois. Well, once I got to Cape Girardeau, things started to change, with more hills and lots of limestone. The further north I went, the more it became like the Mississippi River Valley I’m more familiar with in Iowa and Minnesota. It’s really beautiful and the River is HUGE. I admit I didn’t look down when I crossed over it from Tennessee to Missouri.

I also noticed a difference once I got north of Hannibal – the trees mostly all have leaves, but they are not nearly as far along as those near St. Louis and other points I’ve visited.

Friday I’ll leave the Mississippi Valley and head through farm country to Iowa City.


The farther north I’ve come, the more I notice the architecture becoming more familiar to me. The river towns along the Mississippi have a distinct character, but the houses you drive by are all looking more familiar. You can tell they’re built to withstand cold. Each town has a mix of old Victorian era homes, but the newer ones have a distinct Midwestern feel. Even the older farmhouses and older buildings in town “feel” different to me and familiar.


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