Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not "just another day"

Hello All-
First we'd like to observe and honor the remembrance of September 11th.

Let us all give a moment of quiet thought, thanks, sympathy for the victims & their families.

Let us also think about the true principles & values of freedom, democracy, honor, & duty. These things never change and while they are often co-opted into cheap slogans, they are the greatest wealth that we, as a people, have. Let us also remember that this richness of spirit can be found in any person whatever their status, education, skin color, religion, or credit rating.

Over the past couple of days, we've taken a break from cruising.... well not really. We've been visiting family & friends, playing tourist, and working on the boat. We have learned a lot and really enjoyed the St. Louis area.

We visited the site of Cahokia, an ancient city (link) along the Mississippi. This city was built in the period 800 A.D. to 1250 A.D. supported by the farming of corn in the rich valley soil. These Native Americans created a civilization spreading their influence over the Mississippi and Missouri and Ohio River watersheds, with trade from the oceans up into the Lake Superior region. The most impressive remains of their city is called the Monks Mound (link ), named after a group of French religious brethren who lived at the site during the early colonial period, after the Native American builders had been long gone.

Another legacy from the ancient inhabitants of this region: the Piasa bird (link). Although at first glance, it looks like a bit of childish grafitti, but it is really an ancient petroglyph that has been "touched up" in modern times.

An interesting coincidence is that we arrived at almost the same time as "the hippie boat," an ambitious project of free spirits who call themselves the Miss Rockaway Armada (link). Assembling their rafts from mostly free materials, intending to drift down the Mississippi, they have no money or licenses or permits, but they do have at least one motor and enough savvy to keep out of the way of commercial traffic.

An altogether different type of vessel, although also one that expresses freedom, is here in Alton now. The LST-325 (link to HazeGray naval history site) is one of the last surviving WW2 landing ships, a veteran of the Sicily campaign and D-Day. This ship was saved from the scrapyard by group of tough old salts who raised the money, made her seaworthy to cross the Atlantic again, and sailed her themselves from Greece to Mobile, Alabama (link to 1st Memorial LST-325 website).

Here is a photo of the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River, almost right overhead of our slip in the marina. It's named after William Clark the explorer. His name is almost always given second billing in "Lewis & Clark" (link to L&C journals). The same highway crosses the Missouri River on the Lewis Bridge. These men deserve to remembered for the key part they played in the early expansion of the United States.

So we're here in Alton (link to GoogleMap), planning to stay for a few more days, with plenty to do. Is this "cruising"? We think so....

Best regards to all
Doug & Kathie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doug & Kathie: You are making progress in areas we patrol. While you got from Chicago to Alton we flew to Zurich, cruised most of the Rhine and flew home from Amsterdam. You need to pick up your pace!!! :-)

I enjoyed your piece on canals, and canals and locks were, and still are, a major economic factor in Europe. From Basel to Amsterdam we went through over a dozen locks.

As long as barge traffic is more cost per ton milee conomical than train/trucks locks will be vital.

I hope you still have time to swing to Lake Ponchartrain. I've got someone who would love to see your boat.

Best regards, Norm.