Fall Color Peaks on the Upper Mississippi!

BEST Fall color on the AQRichard

I am just back from a beautiful three weeks cruising with the American Queen between St. Paul and St. Louis. Fall color should be here for the October 18th week in all its glory. Lots of Sunshine predicted, so plan to hit America’s Great River Road! Click here for CURRENT COLOR REPORTS.

eagleOut on the Mississippi River, we noticed an increasing abundance of American Bald Eagles each week of the Sept/October cruise. While my favorite stretches are from Lansing, IA to Red Wing, MN, truly we saw eagles all the way to Alton, Illinois. Noticeably more ADULTS than Juveniles. Not sure why that was. Has anyone else noticed that? Please comment below! Are the sheer number of adult prompting younger birds to be searching further afield? Have the juveniles already started south?

Our Historic Map Artist Makes the Glossies!

Our Mississippi River map artist, Lisa R Middleton, was featured in the FALL 2014 issue of the Montana Quarterly  

We’ve been lucky to have her on the river for the past 7-8 years, but she is expanding her territory westward. It was great having her on the Upper River for ART FAIR ON THE GREEN this summer. Thank you to everyone who expressed such enthusiasm for her Hisoric Map paintings and WELCOME to all our new owners!

Anyone who might like to see the 5-page spread should contact Montana Quarterly 

Visit Lisa’s online blog, ART AT HEART, at www.greatriverarts.com !  Yes, she does accept special requests for original paintings!

Cruising the Seine River with CroisiEurope


our boat entire

Our Waterway Cruise Reports often consist of two highlights… things we experience that could not happen at home, and the occasional serendipity of finding a bit of “home” in our travels!  “Home” for our cruise along the winding Seine River was CroisiEurope’s sparkling SEINE PRINCESS. Limestone faced bluffs, a steady parade of tiny rural villages, historic ruins and churches, complimentary open bar, and exceptionally delicious meals were our daily fare.


For my Mississippi River friends, the tie between France and life along the Mississippi River is readily apparent. After all, we are couched culturally between Montreal in Quebec, and New Orleans in Louisiana! Our June cruise through the Seine River valley from Honfleur to Paris provided many surprising links to the Mississippi River which I’ll enjoy sharing!!

seine cruise map

Our cruise on the Seine  Princess would meander past castle and abby ruins, medieval walled villages, Joan of Arc’s city of Rouen, and culminate in an evening cruise among the night lights of Paris!

UPDATE: This specific cruise is currently ON SALE!  Contact:CROISIEUROPE… www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/…..
1 (800) 768-7232 

P1010927Rendezvous: HONFLEUR on the NORMANDY COAST of France. These very medieval warehouses which today house restaurants, art galleries, and butcher shops were once the depository of pelts from the French Fur Trade in North America!

Our gathering point for the cruise was Honfleur, which was conveniently located near the D-day Landing Beaches of Normandy. Our cruise normally included an optional shore tour of the beaches, but since it was actually June 6 that we would have toured… amidst stringent security… we spent the week before  boarding the Seine Princess at a hotel in Arromanches– with a rental vehicle for independent visits to the beaches and throughout the villages of Normandy.

Honfleur was a town of sea-going merchants, sailors, explorers, fishermen long before the travels of Columbus. Normandy had been sacked repeatedly by Vikings (North Men, thus, Normandy) so fishermen with restless Viking blood had long explored the ocean currents from Honfleur to Newfoundland as they fished for Cod. We found its beautiful pleasure boat harbour, lined with picturesque shops located in medieval warehouses, the winding stone paved streets, and the ancient wooden church well worth the two days allotted to our visit there.

We generally planned for a walking tour and a bus tour on shore each day. Our



Each day on the cruise two optional shore visits were planned… generally a guided walking tour and an afternoon bus tour.  In every case, we found the guides to be passionate, and very knowledgeable about our destinations.




One of the first merchants I met in Honfleur mentioned that many from North America and Quebec visit Honfleur today on the hunt for genealogical records of ancestors descended from the region. The very name QUEBEC represents, surprisingly, not a French word, but a Norman or VIKING word meaning a narrow spot in a broad stream of water.

In fact, a bust of Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and cartographer best known for establishing and governing the settlements of New France and the city of Quebec adorns the castle ruins at the port… a monument to a “north man” who went on to be the governor of the infant city of Quebec. I was told that several other names, well known to us… such as La Salle and Cartier… would have left on their discovery voyages from this very port city.

Champlain began exploring North America in 1603, establishing the city of Quebec in the northern colony of New France. He became the de facto governor of New France in 1620. Champlain died in Quebec in 1635.

It is indeed a small world!!


Contact CROISIEUROPE… this specific Cruise is currently ON SALE!
CroisiEurope   www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/
1 (800) 768-7232


single art on green card


See the full news release at:  http://www.greatriverarts.com/artatheart/?p=238

Beautiful IA WIS Territory mapPlan to attend an outstanding juried art show… Art Fair on the Green… in La Crosse, Wisconsin, July 26/27. Mississippi River map artist, Lisa Middleton, will be featuring her hand-painted historic Mississippi River maps, including the “IOWA/WISCONSIN TERRITORY” map shown here. Purchase a gift print and ask Lisa to sign it! Originals and fine art Giclee reproductions available at this exhibit!

Flood impact is “noticeable” but not traumatic!!

OK, as happens almost every year, folks are starting to call about flood conditions along the Upper Mississippi River. Especially with 4th of July holiday around the bend! The image here shows Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI. Basically, the river is plum full and about to start climbing onto the sidewalk. (Thank you Laura Smanski!)

I heard from Davenport, IA, that, yes the riverside has water creeping in, but scheduled events have simply been moved to Higher Ground. Since many campsites along the upper Mississippi River can be impacted by high water, you might want to make a phone call. If sites are available, your reserved site might be moved slightly to higher ground.

riversidecroppedBoating of any type is more hazardous in high water. There is lots of debris, including whole trees, flowing by at a mighty quick pace. Canoes and kayaks are not recommended until the river is back to a 6′ stage, rather than the 13+- it is right now. Common Sense is King in high water. Highways, river towns, the Great River Road…not so much to worry about.

“Old Abe” participated in D-day landings via America’s 101st Airborne Division

Whenever we travel around the world, I love keeping an eye out for “things Mississippi River.” We recently participated in the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings on the beaches of Normandy France.Screaming Eagle

Among the Americans landing at Omaha Beach were the 101st Airborne Division whose logo is Wisconsin’s own “Old Abe” the eagle! We saw the “Screaming Eagle” displayed on hats, uniforms and even a French storefront!

Old Abe was a mascot during the Civil War for soldiers from Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Abe eventually followed the soldiers for over 14,000 miles, and flew unfettered, above 36 battlefields in Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana throughout the Civil War.

Abe’s statue today sits above the Wisconsin monument at the Civil War battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Confederate sharpshooters were always assigned to bring down that “screaming ol’ buzzard.” Abe survived and was cared for at the Wisconsin state capitol by Wisconsin veterans until his death in 1881.

Old Abe, Vicksburg

I write quite a bit about Old Abe in Volume 4 of DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD  …      “We enjoyed our epic journey enormously, thanks mostly to your DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road guidebooks. The history, culture, and suggested detours provided daily fascination. We just wanted to thank you for your good work!”   ~ Readers from Vermont


Our beautiful “New Map of Lake Pepin” drawn and illustrated by Wisconsin Map Artist, Lisa Middleton, is shown here framed. The gift prints are now available at better gift shops along both shores of the Upper Mississippi River for about $24.95. Or call us at 888-255-7726 to order!

framed lake pepin

The map, based on current USACE river charts is both historical and geographical in nature, with no commercial emphasis. The original painting and one full size giclee are available at Abode Gallery in Stockholm, Wisconsin. The original is close to 40″ long and 12″ wide. The gift prints which are a quality offset print product sized 11″x34″

Middleton also painted the 1887 Historic Reproduction of Glazier’s ribbon map, “The Father of Waters.” Gift prints of this map are also available at many fine gift shops along the river. Or call 888-255-7726 to order.



Spring Migration is in Full Swing!

Go on out and see the birds!!

Bluebird preeningToday is a big migration day in the La Crosse area. I birded at Goose Island County Park for about 1/2 hour before work and along the bike trail in northern Onalaska during my lunch hour. Between these two locations, I have seen 20 species of warblers, Blue-headed, Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireos, Great-crested Flycatchers, Indigo Buntings, Grey-cheeked Thrush, and more. There are relatively few Yellow-rumped Warblers so the warbler watching has been pretty spectacular.

Enjoy the birds,

Dan Jackson, President
Coulee Region Audubon Society
La Crosse, Wisconsin