We spent three days visiting. Mostly we just talked. Mike has done extensive family research and filled Jean in on many details she didn’t know about. She also had information that he didn’t, so it was a successful time.
On the third day, Mike took us just across the Arkansas line to Mammoth Hot Springs State Park. The park is small but well-done, with a restored train depot preserved and open to the public.
They have also preserved the original power station at the dam. Compared with today’s power stations, it looks awfully small.
On the way back, he took us through the village of Koshkonong. He told us that it was once one of the richest towns in the Midwest, thanks to shipping huge quantities of peaches. Today it is almost a ghost town. The streets look like they haven’t been repaired in decades, rough and full of big potholes. None of the commercial buildings is occupied except for the Post Office and a Senior Center. A couple of the houses appeared to be occupied, but there was no one on the street, or any traffic. A very sad sight.
Saturday we headed back to the GRR, after Susan, who makes historical clothing professionally, gave Jean a history of corsets — with examples. Then we rolled back down the dirt road we came in on and were soon heading east again. The weather in the Ozarks was most pleasant. Once we got back down on the prairie, the temperature went back up to air-conditioner range.
In the afternoon we crossed back over the Mississippi into Illinois, and were soon in Cairo. Cairo was a big surprise. During the steamboat era it was a major port on the river, at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi. After the Civil War, it was nearly destroyed by racial conflict. Today the population is less than 3,000. It has wide streets with some impressive buildings, both public and private, but no traffic and few people.
|The main street in Cairo|
|Cairo Public Library|
Like Portsmouth, there are murals on the (Ohio) river wall.
They concentrate on Cairo’s glory days.
At the bottom of town there is a park which it took us two or three tries to find (and an unwanted trip across the river back to Missouri). It is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
There is also a sculpture commemorating the five days that Lewis and Clark spent there gathering their people and teaching them navigational skills, before beginning their epic exploration.
Parked alongside on the Mississippi side was the biggest tow we had seen so far. I could barely get it all in a wide-angle picture.
From there we drove down some beautiful countryside in Kentucky to a state park where we laid over a day to do laundry and catch up with other chores. It’s a beautiful park, with lots of amenities and a view of the river.
All along, we had been getting frequent text messages from Jean’s brother, Chillie, on the hurricane threatening, and then hitting, Texas. On Monday, we headed for the nearest big town, someplace where we could get cell service. We aimed for Jackson, TN. Part way there, at a lunch stop, Gene checked his Allstays app to see what campgrounds might be available in Jackson. He learned that the road we were on (the most direct way to Jackson) had two underpasses with 8-foot clearance. He didn’t even know the app showed that information. So we had to change our route.
Jackson is big enough to have lots of traffic and confusing streets. We wasted a lot of time trying to find a Walmart to do some shopping. We finally gave up and headed to the nearest campground. We found Jackson RV Campground, right at the edge of the city. It looked like an overpriced slum, and we gave up on that one. So far Jackson didn’t seem too welcoming.
Jean found another campground further out. With a name like “Whispering Pines” it held out lots of promise. When we got there it turned out to be small and kind of rough. But the proprietor was friendly and helpful — and it has cable. So we bought two nights. The main object is to watch the storm and make some decisions.
So far, all campgrounds we have been in have had at least bathrooms, often with showers. This one has a building labeled “Laundry.” I went there, expecting it to have a bathroom. It doesn’t, but there is a small room off the laundry portion that has a bathtub! Unique.
But it does have cable. We watched the coverage on the Weather Channel for a long time, then saw the news and some Monday night TV. Our original idea was to wait out the storm and then continue our trip. We are now about half-way down the Mississippi. After some discussion and consulting of maps, we concluded that the rest of the way was going to be a total disaster area. Going down there now, we would only be disaster tourists — not something we would want.
So as of now, we are stopping the trip and heading for home. Not that we will be rushing back. Here in Tennessee, there are other things to see and friends and relatives to visit. Gene has lived in Virginia for more than 50 years and has never been to the Great Smoky Mountains. So we have a new plan for a casual and interesting trip back to Virginia. We are thinking about picking up the rest of the GRR next winter, taking the long way to Florida for our usual visit. Keep tuned.