- When a full moon meets the apex of a cable bridge, it looks like a spotlight.
- A 5×3 barge tow carries as much as 1,000 semi trucks.
- Loopers on a bus named Shittzengiggles do, in fact, giggle.
Those are three things I learned during our third day in Alton, Illinois on the Mississippi River … plus a lot more. For example, did you know that Cahokia was North America’s first city? I didn’t either. It was one of the largest cities of the world at the time, settled by Native Americans hundreds of years before Columbus “discovered America.” Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 20 miles from here.
We sometimes forget that the history of “America” began long before it was called that.
We also learned a lot more about the role rivers play in our national economy and international trade. Nearly 60% of all U.S. agriculture exports move down the Mississippi River to foreign markets.
Some people do The Great Loop as a kind of race — a souped-up pontoon boat just finished it in about 60 days — but most of us like to take time to absorb and learn. Today’s education came from the National Great Rivers Museum. We went by bike on this beastly-hot day and were grateful it was just a few miles away! Still, we envied the e-bikes of our Looper companions. (They went on to other museums while we retreated back to the A/C of our boat.) After projects on the boat and more than one dip in the pool, we joined four other Looper couples for a hilarious outing to the local cheap-food place called Fast Eddies. It was hilarious mostly because of the transportation — a Lyft ride by someone from across the river who was out of her element on this side of the bridge, and an even more improbable ride back on a bus built for partying. Jello shots. Blow-up animals. And other left-behinds of a bachelorette party. It was only a 10-minute ride, but a memorable one!