Dec 24, 2020. Merry Christmas everyone. Some may be surprised I still have Tundra Swans, pictured in the header. In fact, during the Christmas Bird Count on Dec 19, our La Crosse Audubon group reported counting 2600 Tundra Swans (big movement over the area), and a high number of duck species despite still water areas being frozen. So yes, you may still be seeing Tundra Swans passing through.
(Nov 2020) Now that our Tri-State bluffs are clad mostly in the deep browns of persistent oak foliage, and the first measurable snow has sprinkled down, we are seeing the Tundra swans winging their way into Pool 8 once again! It’s always one of my favorite birding seasons. As is normal, we not only have elegant Tundra swans resting and feeding, but large “mobs” of American white pelicans are gathering. Migrating ducks also form vast rafts…puddle ducks in more sheltered areas; diving ducks in open water upriver of the locks and dams. Check out the rest area near Brownsville, MN, and the open water south of Goose Island in Wisconsin. The highway pulloffs allow parking and offer scopes and often volunteers to help explain why the swans stop in Pool 8 and what other migrating waterfowl might be identifiable. Eagles are frequent and will become even more so in November!!
Woah, driving the Mississippi River for the past few days, and WOW, has the color popped! It seemed sudden and early to me, based on past years when riding the steamboats and the bluffs would pop as late as October 15! But we found color from Madison to Northern Wisconsin already.
Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com While mid-October seems to be the time when Fall Foliage really POPS along the Upper Mississippi River, we on the Upper River are certainly already seeing brilliant red sumacs. Softwoods are starting to yellow up. You can follow the southward march of Fall Color with the contacts below. Weather is perfect, enjoy the drive!
And don’t leave home without the indispensable guides to Mississippi River and Great River Road travel! Every volume of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road is filled with a variety of fascinating Mississippi River fact and lore. Photos, maps, charts! All Volumes contain info on birding, wildlife viewing hotspots. Each highlights Geography, interpretive history and natural history attractions along the Great River Road.SAVE $10!!!
Click HERE to PurchaseDiscover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota, Discovr! Guides are available in four volumes from St. Paul to Venice, Louisiana, individually signed by the author. Available on Amazon as paperback ($22) or KINDLE guide (9.99). Or phone 888-255-7726 and we will send you your copy TODAY.
We have been watching our local Monarch butterflies since early August, fluttering around our wetland Milkweed and Joe Pye weeds.
With the grand-kids, we have been able to observe the singular egg, the distinctive caterpillars who ate the leaves voraciously…like lawn mowers… the delicate chrysalis, and finally, the magical moments of transformation to an adult butterfly!
Please enter Monarch in the Search Box in the upper right to see more on Migrating Monarchs from GreatRiver.com
Boaters in September will find them frequenting the Mississippi River on their meandering, multi-generational migration to Mexico and back.
Yes! Great River Arts offers quality note cards, Prints, and Map art for a variety of Butterfly Species. Find beautiful hand-painted map art and quality prints of Mexico and the Caribbean! Visit greatriverarts.com
The story of Iowa’s five Sullivan brothers is one I have been meaning to share for a long time! I was contacted by family members when I did the last update to Volume 2 of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road. The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, has since taken it on as a way to celebrate ALL Iowa Veterans.
Looking for a great historic get-away? This might be a meaningful destination for you!
Waterloo’s five Sullivan Brothers gained national attention when they enlisted in the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and insisted they be allowed to “stick together” while in the service. After initially refusing, the Navy granted their request. All five brothers were lost when their ship, the USS Juneau, was torpedoed on November 13, 1942, following the Battle of Guadalcanal. This sacrifice remains the largest single loss for a family in American military history.
“As Commander-in-Chief, I want you to know that the entire nation shares your sorrow … I am sure that we all take heart in the knowledge that they fought side by side. As one of your sons wrote, ‘We will make a team together that can’t be beat.’ It is this spirit which in the end must triumph.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Thomas and Aleta Sullivan, January 13, 1943
The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum honors the service and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to present. Step into their stories through traditional exhibits, interactive activities and an electronic Wall of Honor. The Museum consists of over 35 interactive exhibits. Interviews collected via the Voices of Iowa Oral History Project total over 1,500
The Story of the Sullivan Brothers and Their Impact on Navy Policy…
The Sullivans enlisted in the US Navy on January 3, 1942, with the stipulation that they serve together. The Navy had a policy of separating siblings, but this was not strictly enforced. George and Frank had served in the Navy before, but their brothers had not. All five were assigned to the light cruiserUSS Juneau. (all links provided by Wickipedia).
Early in the morning of November 13, 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Juneau was struck by a Japanese torpedo and forced to withdraw. Later that day, as it was leaving the Solomon Islands’ area for the Allied rear-area base at Espiritu Santo with other surviving US warships from battle, the Juneau was struck again, this time by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-26. The torpedo likely hit the thinly armored light cruiser at or near the ammunition magazines and the ship exploded and quickly sank.
Captain Gilbert C. Hoover, commanding officer of the light cruiser USS Helena and senior officer present in the battle-damaged US task force, was skeptical that anyone had survived the sinking of the Juneau and believed it would be reckless to look for survivors, thereby exposing his wounded ships to a still-lurking Japanese submarine. Therefore, he ordered his ships to continue on towards Espiritu Santo. Helena signaled a nearby US B-17 bomber on patrol to notify Allied headquarters to send aircraft or ships to search for survivors.
But in fact, approximately 100 of Juneau‘s crew had survived the torpedo attack and the sinking of their ship and were left in the water. The B-17 bomber crew, under orders not to break radio silence, did not pass the message about searching for survivors to their headquarters until they had landed several hours later. The crew’s report of the location of possible survivors was mixed in with other pending paperwork actions and went unnoticed for several days. It was not until days later that headquarters staff realized that a search had never been mounted and belatedly ordered aircraft to begin searching the area. In the meantime, Juneau’s survivors, many of whom were seriously wounded, were exposed to the elements, hunger, thirst, and repeated shark attacks.
Eight days after the sinking, ten survivors were found by a PBY Catalina search aircraft and retrieved from the water. The survivors reported that Frank, Joe and Matt died instantly, Al drowned the next day, and George survived for four or five days, before suffering from delirium as a result of hypernatremia (though some sources describe him being “driven insane with grief” at the loss of his brothers); he went over the side of the raft he occupied. He was never seen or heard from again.
Security required that the Navy not reveal the loss of Juneau or the other ships so as not to provide information to the enemy. Letters from the Sullivan sons stopped arriving at the home and the parents grew worried, which prompted Alleta Sullivan to write to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in January 1943, citing rumors that survivors of the task force claimed that all five brothers were killed in action.
This letter was answered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 13, 1943, who acknowledged that the Sullivans were missing in action, but by then the parents were already informed of their fate, having learned of their deaths on January 12. That morning, the boys’ father, Tom, was preparing for work when three men in uniform – a lieutenant commander, a doctor and a chief petty officer – approached his door. “I have some news for you about your boys,” the naval officer said. “Which one?” asked Tom. “I’m sorry,” the officer replied. “All five.”
The brothers left a sister, Genevieve (1917–1975). Al was survived by his wife Katherine Mary and son Jimmy. Joe left a fiancée named Margaret Jaros, while Matt left behind a fiancée named Beatrice Imperato. The “Fighting Sullivan Brothers” became national heroes. President Roosevelt sent a letter of condolence to their parents. Pope Pius XII sent a silver religious medal and rosary with his message of regret. The Iowa Senate and House adopted a formal resolution of tribute to the Sullivan brothers.
Tom and Alleta Sullivan made speaking appearances at war plants and shipyards on behalf of the war effort. Later, Alleta participated in the launching of a destroyerUSS The Sullivans, named after her sons.
On Saturday, March 17, 2018 the wreckage of the USS Juneau was discovered by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen off the coast of the Solomon Islands.
As a direct result of the Sullivans’ deaths (and the deaths of four of the Borgstrom brothers within a few months of each other two years later), the U.S. War Department adopted the Sole Survivor Policy.
A museum wing has been built in honor of their service in World War II. The museum is located in downtown Waterloo, Iowa, their hometown. It was completed in 2008. The grand opening occurred on November 15, 2008. The $11.5 million, state-of-the-art facility aims to play a role in preserving the history and service of Iowa veterans and serve as a facility for research and genealogy studies.
Al Sullivan’s son served on board the first USS The Sullivans. His grandmother christened the first ship. The second USS The Sullivans was christened by Al’s granddaughter Kelly Ann Sullivan Loughren.
Thomas and Alleta Sullivan toured the country promoting war bonds and asked that none of their sons died in vain.
Genevieve, their only sister, served in the WAVES. She was the girlfriend of Bill Ball, whose death at Pearl Harbor prompted her brothers to join the Navy to avenge him.
The brothers’ story was filmed as the 1944 movie The Sullivans (later renamed The Fighting Sullivans) and inspired, at least in part, the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. The Sullivans were also briefly mentioned in Saving Private Ryan.
The brothers’ hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, renamed its convention center in 1988 as “The Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center”. In June 2017, the city was considering a proposal to sell the center to a developer who would renovate the facility and change its name. The proposal met with some community opposition. The town also named a street and a public park in their honor. The park is the location of their childhood home.
The Sullivans were not the only brother sailors on board the ship. There were at least thirty sets of brothers, including the four Rogers brothers from New Haven, Connecticut. Before the ill-fated Savo Island operation, two of the Rogers brothers were transferred to other commands. According to those who survived, had the ship returned to port safely, at least two Sullivans would have also transferred.
The Sullivans Association, an organization of veterans who served on both US Navy ships named after the brothers, conducted a reunion on September 25, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. The attendees gathered at Sullivans Park, visited Calvary Cemetery and laid flowers at the graves of the Sullivan brothers’ parents and sister, and visited the neighborhood where the family had lived.
Sunny days, green bluffs and sparkling Mississippi River remind us that fun and socially responsible activities are all around us…and not limited just to our beautiful parks!! The Great River Road offers easily accessible scenic overlooks, fishing spots, historic side routes to tiny towns with big stories to share, and a fabulous opportunities for watching large wildlife. Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Egrets, herons, pelicans, and Trumpeter swans are not hard to spot on a day’s drive. Take a picnic lunch and a copy of the nearest Volume of DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD and make each day memorable!!
Check out all our Mississippi River products online at www.greatriverarts.com Are you a Kindle reader? Yes! Books are also available online at Amazon’s Kindle books and in regional gift shops along the river.
at Middleton and Great River Publishing have provided fascinating detail on life along the Mississippi River since 1987! TheMississippi River Activity Guide for Kids will provide summer structure for the elementary aged kids. In Volumes 1 (Upper), 2 (Middle), 3 Lower, 4 (Delta) of Discover! America’s Great River Road, Pat becomes your “friend on the road” providing in-depth background on everything you see along the Mississippi River. Father’s Day is a great time to gift your Dad a fascinating regional book or an historic map he will REALLY LOVE. Check out all our Mississippi River products online at www.greatriverarts.com
One of my all time favorite snapshots of the Sandhill Cranes with chicks in 2009. While the chicks (colts) are still quite small, the adults take them strolling through meadow, marsh, and even the pond.
May 6, 2020 and our single chick was hatched right on time, in the same locale as the parents have nested for the past 14 years. This year, I noted how very quiet and secretive they were around the nest. The second adult was alway on guard, well away from the nest, quite visible, but always on task. I think having an Eagle in the neighborhood has taught them to be far more cautious than they were in the first ten years!!
Alex was our preferred naturalist… mainly because of his love of the islands, and because of his 20 years of experience! But for those whose personal perspective is that this was a “vacation” and no “mandatory learning” was allowed, we had a second naturalist whose main focus was “learn a little” and have a great time! Every Galapagos naturalist today is professionally trained to interpret and protect this unique natural heritage.
On my first open ocean snorkeling excursion, I panicked and clung to the ladder.
“Alex,” I urged, “don’t wait for me. I’ll just hang here for a while.”
“I don’t go anywhere unless you decide to come with me, or get back in the boat,” he explained. “I don’t leave you in the water alone.” I felt absolutely safe with Alex from that point forward.
Snorkeling, panga rides, and kayaking were all available options for daily water-based activities. Snorkeling was by far the most popular… Turtles, white-tipped sharks, swimming with sea lions, and even “circling-up” when visited by several hammerhead sharks provided highlites on our Galapagos cruise. Oh yes, and we were joined by a pod of leaping dolphins during one of many memorable panga excursions!
“I really could not believe it was ME out there snorkeling with Hammerhead sharks!” one Minnesota passenger exalted. And sea turtles were ABUNDANT in the clear waters!
Twice each day, the naturalists led us ashore for an island hike. An afternoon nap was mandatory, so that everyone had the energy to do the really important stuff… like hiking among the booby’s and iguanas, and magnificent Frigate Birds.
The AMAZING thing is that these creatures truly have no fear of humans!! It was as if we had entered into the Garden of Eden.
While it is not necessary to be a student athlete to visit the Galapagos Islands, for the first time on any cruise, we found ourselves to be among the older visitors, rather than the younger!
It IS necessary to be able to hike for a mile or two… some of it over rocky lava surfaces, or up and down short steep slopes.
“Wet landings” are common, so be prepared to swing your legs over the side of a rubber panga and in the gentle surf!
I did bring two pieces of “gear” that I found incredibly useful…trekking poles that could be unscrewed to fit in a small carry-on suitcase, and lightweight Salomon’s “Amphibian” style hiking shoes with webbing. The trekking poles worked great when we were on lava rocks.
The specialized water/hiking shoes were great for wet landings. The webbing meant shoes dried quickly. The hiking soles stuck like glue to wet rock and afforded comfortable cushioning for the rest of the hike.
Casual dress is definitely the order of the day for this cruise!
With the uncertainty of the current moment, Lisa and I just wanted to take a moment to reach out to our past and present customers to let you know that Great River Publishing and Great River Arts are open as always for our precious Wholesale Customers and online purchases.
Your wholesale telephone order, email order, or other queries are always welcome!! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa at: 406.471.7563
Friends, we more than thank you for your continued support. Many of you have been buying our book, maps, note cards for close to 30 years! It’s hard to express how much I (Pat) have appreciated you through the years. If you have any questions. or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Although Lisa will be taking over the bulk of our wholesale business, always, feel free to contact me … with questions, concerns, or a bit of tutoring on Lisa’s www.greatriverarts.com
For Jack, who wants to know more about all the tributaries of the Mississippi River: how many there are, their names, and how long they are!
There are some 250 tributaries of the Mississippi which drain a total area of more than 1,247,000 square miles–one third of the nation’s landmass–extending from the Allegheny Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west!
We start here with quick facts on the Mississippi River and several navigable tributaries! Please follow links for a little more depth of historical interest and to see our collection of hand-painted maps!
The Mississippi River, from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, is approximately 2,348 miles long. The combined reach of the Missouri-Mississippi Rivers is 3,741 miles–a length exceeded only by the Amazon and Nile rivers. The Mississippi River has shortened by several hundred miles since the days of Mark Twain. Even today it varies 30-50 miles each year.
The widest navigable part of the Mississippi is Lake Pepin, on the Upper Mississippi, where it is approximately 2 miles wide. The average current flows from 1.2 miles per hour nearer Lake Itasca, and about 3 mi per hour nearer New Orleans. Our historic Mississippi River Ribbon Map has been a best-selling Gift for many years.
“This is a beautiful map!! My whole life is on this map! My home town, the towns where my kids live, even New Orleans, my favorite place to vacation!”
Remember the great Mississippi River Flood of 1993? It wasn’t just the Mississippi River flooding that wreaked havoc, it was that all those tributaries flooded as well! At one point, the volume of water flowing past St. Louis was eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls!! You may also want to check out our interactive map of which of the tributaries are at flood stage today! Click INTERACTIVE MAPS in the category list, right hand column, to see where the tributaries are at flood level TODAY!!
Lisa now offers her own custom ribbon map designs of both the OHIO RIVER and the Missouri River. Please click on any map image for more info on the map or the tributary. Or PHONE 888-255-7726 to order any map. Click on map images for more info on the tributaries.
THE MISSOURI RIVER is considered to be the longest stream of river in the US . The Missouri River which begins at Three Forks, Montana (elevation 4,032 feet) and flows 2,714 miles to near St. Louis, Missouri. Many people consider the Missouri to be the main reach of the Mississippi River!
The Ohio River is the second major tributary of the Mississippi. It is formed in Pittsburgh by the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela River and travels about 980 miles to Cairo, Illinois, and the Mississippi River. Interestingly, today’s Ohio River Basin is approximately the northern extremity of the ancient shallow sea that is represented today by the Gulf of Mexico! Consider that nearly 1/3 of the nation’s water drains past the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at Fort Defiance in Cairo, Illinois!
The Illinois River, cutting through steep rocky bluffs, runs approximately 273 miles (439 km), with some 60 miles of scenic water. It flows through the heart of the State of Illinois, and links the great rivers of the American West with the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.
Historically, the Illinois River has had a significant impact on the state’s economy, communities, and peoples. Long before Europeans discovered America, indigenous tribes inhabited the Illinois River Valley and settled on the riverbanks, creating a river culture of their own. In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet surveyed the region, canoeing up to the Illinois River via the Mississippi River, hoping to find a route linking the Great Lakes to the Illinois River and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the Illinois and Michigan Canals are the evidence that their vision became reality.
And for fun, checkout our fascinating 1841 STEAMBOAT MAP OF ILLINOIS lists all the steamboat stops and distances along the Illinois River and the Mississippi, Ohio and Vermillion Rivers!
Planning for an upcoming CRUISE? We’ve featured several of our SMALL BOAT CRUISE destinations here! WATERWAY CRUISE REPORTS
The Galapagos Island cruise reports are among our most popular Waterway Cruise Reports.. For most of us, the biggest puzzle pieces in putting together a small boat cruise are… “Who shall I travel with, and, when should I go?”
Our May visit featured rich, green plant-life and fair skies. Every bird species, from finch to Albatross, lizard to seal lion seemed to be nesting, mating, and feeding with abandon. But, honestly, most species in the Galapagos are opportunistic when it comes to reproduction… one month is as good as another for attracting a mate and raising a brood. And any time you have the opportunity to visit these amazing islands will be perfect for you!!!
WHO to travel with is another matter. A rule of thumb, is that smaller vessels rate better access to islands in the Galapagos. But we didn’t really want to risk chartering a small sailing boat with minimal amenities and an unknown operator. So we had an eye out for a slightly larger vessel, with a luxury tradition. We discovered the 32-passenger Galapagos EVOLUTION and Quasar Expeditions, it was clear sailing… especially in hind-sight…everything about this cruise and our eventual visit to the Andes highlands turned out to be immensely satisfying! With 32-passengers, a sleek classic yacht design, a modern, informative web-site, and luxury ratings for meals and accommodations, the EVOLUTION seemed to be our vessel.
Quasar Expeditions is one of the oldest cruise operators in the Galapagos. The family has offered cruises of the Galapagos since the 1980s and offered us trouble-free travel planning… both cruise passengers had the advantage of knowledgeable and passionate naturalists, excellent food, and superb access to the islands. Quasar also organized our week-long land tour in the Andes highlands around Quito… Our driver and English-speaking guide took a personal interest in our satisfaction from the moment they picked us up at the airport to the moment they waved us off the Tarmac.
While Quasar Expeditions is an Ecuadoran company, every contact we had was with an English speaking individual. From website to office staff, the company is positioned specifically to deal with English-speaking populations.
“The understanding that we are an English-speaking company makes it easier for us to garner the finest crew, naturalists, and to meet the expectations of an English-speaking clientel,” I was told. “Plus, we don’t just want you to come and enjoy the islands, we want you to leave the EVOLUTION with a new cadre of FRIENDS. That just happens more easily if everyone speaks the same language.”