FLOOD OF 2011 May Rival Even 1927

Fox News photo of Birds Point Levee floodway


130,000 acres of agricultural land floods after a deliberate break in the Birds Point Levee south of Cairo.

The FLOOD OF 2011 is threatening to rival the flood of 1927!

I can’t think of a more dangerous place to be in the world just now than at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers! Levees completely encircle the city of Cairo, forming an island during floods and the Mississippi River begins to back up into the Ohio River.

For an INTERACTIVE MAP of where flooding is at its worse, visit www.greatriver.com/FLOOD.htm

Some 60% of the water that flows through the U.S. passes through this confluence, including much of the deep south, via the north-flowing Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. As this is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is worth noting that General Grant named Cairo Fort Defiance when it was occupied by the Union Army.

See more stats on the major tributaries of the Mississippi River by visiting www.greatriver.com/tribs.htm To follow the progress of high water through the small towns of the Mississippi River, read Discover! America’s Great River Road.


“Toots” remembers the Delta Queen

“Toots” Maloy, who for some 30+ years was the “face” of the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen recently sent me her new memoir of her days on the paddlewheelers.

I found it doubly interesting because it was NOT a history of the company, but truly a memoir of her days on the boats, recounted as she made the last river journey of the Delta Queen to its current Tennessee berth.

Toots also serves as our eyes and ears as she gets a last look at the mold-infested shell of the Mississippi Queen. All of us who loved traveling the Delta Queen fleet, who loved traveling with Riverlorians “Toots”,  Bill Wiemuth, and the rest of the crew, will find this a poignant reminder of how much has been lost with the cruising paddlewheelers.

“We haven’t just lost a vessel,” Toots writes, “we lost a way of life. And with just a stroke of a pen it could have been saved.”

Yes, we have Toot’s book available online at our Mississippi River bookstore. Just $7 plus shipping for a limited time. 54 pages, with 8 pages of photos.

Please click on the link below to order instantly online, or phone 888-255-7726.

A Page Out of History

by Riverlorian, Karen “Toots” Maloy

SECURE online Order Form!

As of 2012, the AMERICAN QUEEN will be BACK on American rivers! Click link to see the update.

A Mid-March “Super Storm” for the Upper Midwest?

OK, I love spring because one day (like today) there is a great sense of expectancy… the sun throws long morning shadows, a new bird arrives with every glance out the window (just saw my first starling), they sing in the morning with greater stridency, and the weather is just plain unpredictable.

Well, according to Paul Douglas’s weather blog in Minneapolis, another 12″ snowstorm is predicted for the Tri-State area late next week. Here’s the graphic. Paul’s interpretation follows.

Paul Douglas writes:  “Unlike Anything I’ve Ever Seen.  This printout is a prediction for total accumulated snowfall between now and midnight, March 19, 2011. Two separate (major) storms: next Wednesday, another very significant snowstorm possible around March 18-19. The GFS prints out a 53″ bullseye over southwestern Minnesota (Windom area), with nearly 30″ for the Twin Cities between these two storms. Good grief. I pray the models are wrong – but I suspect they’re on the right track. I don’t have to tell you what this would mean for our flood potential come April.”

Paul continues, “The models have been surprisingly consistent in printing out over 1″ of liquid precipitation the middle of next week.  If the storm tracks across southern Iowa into northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin heavy snow bands may set up directly over southern and central Minnesota and much of northern/western Wisconsin. There is a potential for a foot of heavy, wet snow from this storm. Nothing is guaranteed (except sunrise/sunset), so enjoy the relative peace and tranquility. We’ll probably make up for it next week.”

So, this bird walks into a store……

This is a fun 2007 video of a real seagull, probably from Scotland, which developed the habit of stealing chips from a neighborhood shop.

The seagull waits until the shopkeeper isn’t looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos.

Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds.

The seagull’s shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Aberdeen, Scotland, and helped himself to a bag of chips. Since then, he’s become a regular. He always takes the same type of chips.

Customers have begun paying for the seagull’s stolen bags of chips because they think it’s so funny.

Passionate Ireland


Rich and I have an eye for PASSION. Perhaps the French proprietor  who is passionate about country meats and cheeses. Perhaps our Guide who is passionate about sharing his paths in the foothills of the Pyrenees with the traveler. Or the plumber who is passionate about bathtubs and faucets!!! All of these make great stories for travelers and we are grateful for every individual we meet who rises to this passion threshhold.

July found us exploring IRELAND. You are invited to share in our discoveries at http://greatriver.com/waterwaycruises/SHANNON/princess.htm  We will share our itinerary and the stories of those passionate people we met along the way, including:

Pat and Ann Halpin are hoteliers. The Aberdeen Lodge provided us a “soft landing”, a “home away from home” in Dublin. Among the cliffs of Kilkee, the Halpin Townhouse Hotel provided the familiar hospitality of complimentary coffee and cookies, PLUS we clearly heard the ocean  through the open window of our oceanview room at Kilkee. Here we overlooked the Atlantic just above the mouth of the Shannon River. Pat Halpin works hard to provide notably attentive and hospitable staff, and exceptional amenities for the traveler.

Ruairi Gibbons was a passionate sailor long before he became became Captain of the Shannon Princess.  “Offering a hotel cruise on the Shannon River seemed to be my best bet for spending the rest of my life on water!”

057 Ireland 1906

Beautiful art prints of Historic Travel Maps, Hand Painted by Map Artist, Lisa Middleton can be viewed in detail by clicking on the map image!

Ruairi has now owned and operated Ireland’s premier overnight hotel barge for some 17 years. Seven years ago, he completely redesigned and appointed a two hundred passenger barge into the 10 passenger hotel barge which today is the only one operating on Ireland’s longest river.

Ruairi’s wife, Olivia Power, joined the team eleven years ago when Rauri advertised for a trained Chef to serve on the Shannon Princess. Olivia was the only applicant. Now nationally recognized, she turned out to be his greatest asset, and yes, his greatest passion!

A fun side-note is that Olivia’s first assignment was in a lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin! She prepared a lot of Walleye, she recalls, and to this day she orders a supply of wild rice from Wisconsin every year! We’ve just posted our experience of cruising with Ruairi and Olivia on the SHANNON RIVER.

Tom Crean, Antartic explorerFinally there is Tom Crean, an “unsung Irish hero” from the days of Scott, Amundsen, and Shackleton.  We found his story at the South Pole Inn, in Anascaul, on the Dingle Penninsula.

You will find each of their stories this October in our WATERWAY CRUISE REPORTS and you will find them all in IRELAND.

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We also invite you to enjoy our photos of Ireland and ALL our travels at  our Great River photo site.

Spring, Spring Spring!!

Photo by Rich MiddletonWe’re close to hitting 50 degrees in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Sandhill cranes, Canada Geese, starlings have all returned. The Mourning Dove is cooing again and the morning is beginning to be vibrant with bird chatter. We’ve heard from the St. Louis area that pelicans are back on their way north. I don’t know that ANYONE appreciates spring like someone who lives up here!

Fall Color is PEAK along the Hermann, Missouri, Wine Trail!

Norton grapes are the signature grape at Missouri Wineries

Norton grapes are the signature Missouri wine grape

We are just back from several delightful days in the vicinity of Hermann, Missouri. Hickory and Oak trees which cover the Missouri River bluffs were in full bloom… as was OCTOBERFEST on both the Hermann and Augusta Wine Trails! 
In addition to wine tasting, live music, and friendly locals, we geo-cached in park and forest, toured historic homes and learned about the German settlements which prospered in the 1880s.
There are 70 B&Bs in Hermann alone, but reserve ahead if you visit on the weekend!! 

Watch our TRAVEL REPORTS page at www.greatriver.com/waterwaycruises/  for a detailed feature next month. Right now, visit: www.VisitHermann.com or  http://www.hermannmissouri.com/ for more details!

River tie to Yosemite Nat’l Park

 Riverbuffs watching Ken Burn’s THE NATIONAL PARKS Sunday evening might be interested to know that the Upper River has a tie to Lafayette Bunnell, who named Yosemite Nat’l Park. From DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD, Volume 1, p. 78 . . .

“Five miles south of Winona, in the tiny village of HOMER, MINNESOTA, is the historic “Bunnell  House.” This gothic gem was the home of Willard Bunnell, the first permanent settler and last Indian trader in the area. Bunnell’s brother, Lafayette, was among the men who discovered and gave the name Yosemite to the National Park in California.”

Abundant Pelicans on Pool 8, March 22

Pelicans on Pool 8American White Pelicans are again clustering on Pool 8.  Interesting to note that in 2008, I noted that on March 23 the pelicans were back to Pool 8 en masse. Please comment for us on where else you are seeing them!

A long-time river rat living on Grey Cloud Island observes that the migrating pelicans cluster behind the melting river ice  to feast on the winter kill of fish as they work their way into northwestern Minnesota. So they congegate in specific areas until the ice further north has melted.

While we have many American white pelicans who stay for the summer, now is a great time to watch them as many thousands slowly make their way up the river.

Something unique! Condos on the River.

Thought you might find this blurb interesting….

The floating condo city, the Marquette, is the newest addition to the extensive and comprehensive real estate inventory available at Condo.com.  It is envisioned that the 600-foot-long, 108-foot-wide vessel formed by four barges will be topped with 185 to 200 condos, which will travel 6,600 miles along the Mississippi River, connecting rivers and intracoastal waterways annually.

Thirty crew members will join the 350 residents aboard The Marquette, which boasts a long, open-air center atrium complete with plants, benches and six elevators for accessing the vessel’s various levels. Each condo, ranging from 528 to 924-plus square feet, is complete with a private waterfront balcony and will be able to access high-definition television as well as high-speed Internet.

Costs will range from estimated prices of $54,600 for two months spent in a 528-square-foot condo to a full year at $499,000 in a 924-square-foot residence; Homeowners’ Association fees are an additional cost and pay for staff salaries, port fees and insurance costs.

Isn’t that the darndest thing?