Bridges, Barges & Giggles (Day 51)


Full Moon atop Clark Bridge.
  1. When a full moon meets the apex of a cable bridge, it looks like a spotlight.
  2. A 5×3 barge tow carries as much as 1,000 semi trucks.
  3. 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!

The “real-feel” was 100 degrees. Glad the course was mostly flat!
Three big rivers converge here: Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri.
A 15-barge tow can carry as much as 216 train cars or 1050 semi trucks.
Jeff “took a spin” on the museum’s barge simulator. He crashed. 🙂 (I’m sure he would have succeeded on a 2nd try! We were warned that it’s more difficult that one would think.)
Fast Eddies served good food, cheaply. Cash only, no carry-out, no kids, and a pretty raucous environment.
Loopers are “all-business” when under way. We have to be. But in port? Let silliness ensue! (We didn’t plan this ride. The bus was at the restaurant when we came out, and we needed a ride back, so why not? We didn’t know it had just off-loaded a bachelorette party. Lots of giggles after we boarded! Too bad I didn’t get pictures of what was inside.)
Clark Bridge is named after the famous explorer of “Lewis-and-Clark.” They started up the Missouri River, near here, in 1804.

3 thoughts on “Bridges, Barges & Giggles (Day 51)

  1. I’m certainly enjoying your voyage and many adventures, Mary. Thanks for the step by step or port by port view on a daily basis. Your writing is fresh and I always look forward to reading your next post. Love you, Lyn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your writing is so real I almost feel like I’m taking the journey with you – w/o suffering my usual sea sickness. Look forward to next post! Love and blessings, ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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