Tag Archives: Mississippi River

Happy Independence Day America

July 4th on the Big Muddy

EW writer Sheryl Groen with Ruby
EW writer Sheryl Groen with Ruby

By skgroen
EW Emma’s Writings

I like simple things: a cheap glass of wine, a good book, a new picture of my grandchildren and a sturdy lawn chair. I also LOVE the 4th of July. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I love the heat, humidity, picnics, parades, fireworks and time with family.

Each July fourth we load up Sara (my trusty SUV) and head north to the big muddy, the Mississippi river. We have our annual fish fry waterside. My husband, son, nephew and brothers-in-law are all sport-fishing enthusiasts, who do their best to accumulate a sizeable catch. If the catch is small (something a fisherman does not like to discuss) we hit the Piggly Wiggly for fried chicken. The day revolves around good food and conversation.

On the morning of the fourth, we start out with homemade mini donuts deep fat fried on the patio. There is nothing better than a warm donut with your morning coffee!
Midday we heat up the fish fryer and begin breading and cooking the fish. Once it is ready we bring out the corn on the cob, watermelon and a crazy good mixture of midwestern potluck fare. After the fish fry, the kids are busy with squirt guns, swimming, boat rides, jumping off the dock and fishing.

A few years ago we started a new tradition, at dusk we launch Chinese paper lanterns: one for each of the grandchildren. The kids line up by height and the parents help with the launch. Last year, long after the last lantern had flown over the western bluffs, my grandson pointed to the eastern sky and said, look grandma that one made it around the world already!

Meanwhile, a campfire is lit and the adults pull up their lawn chairs. The kids bring out the sparklers, sizzling snakes and their renewed enthusiasm. Sometimes I wonder where they store all that energy. And since we have not eaten enough, the marshmallow forks and pie makers magically appear. We make s’mores, campfire pies and roasted marshmallows before the fireworks begin.

There are several small communities on the big muddy who have fireworks and from our vantage point we can usually see three to four different displays. Sonic booms go on into the wee hours of the night and if the mosquitoes cooperate you can watch the fireworks until almost three in the morning!

I think my favorite part of the holiday is spending time with family. The campfire brings out the stories and embarrassing – the better. One of the uncles, who liked his beer, cut down a light pole with his chainsaw because he ran out of firewood for the campfire. On another occasion, he sunk his boat and motor while it was tied to the dock.
We are also very fond of corny jokes. My father in law was a master; he could entertain a crowd for hours. His standard comeback has now become a one liner for his great grandkids. When he was asked, where did you catch that fish? He would reply, I caught him in the lip. It’s really funny when a three year old delivers the punch line.

Hopefully, one of my great- grandchildren will be sitting by a campfire on the banks of the big muddy retelling stories and corny jokes for years to come.

Copyright (c) 2014 story by skgroen photo by Emma Palova

Old Man River Mississippi

Old Man River attracts fur traders

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

On this longest day of the year, I am writing about my Mississippi River adventures. I could use more than one long day that the summer solstice gives us.

Like Pere Marquette, Joliette and McGregor we landed in Prairie du Chien on a hot Friday afternoon to discover the Old Man River. The last time we were here was five years ago.

Annually the city hosts the largest fur trade re-enactment in the Midwest. The river was high after recent rains but did not flood the St. Feriole Island.

On our way to Prairie we bet that nothing has changed in the area for the last 100 years.

Rediscovering treasures on the Mississippi River
Rediscovering treasures on the Mississippi River

Well, we were right except for road construction in the downtown area. And a local businessman completed the remodel of a furniture store.

We crossed the Mississippi to Iowa’s McGregor to stay at Uncle Sam’s Saloon built in 1857 on the landing. The building has been remodeled and updated, but it does have this formidable steep staircase like into a chicken coop.

The view of the town from the porch was marvelous. McGregor is known as “Pocket City” reminiscent of a pocket in the bluffs surrounding the river.

Ludek lived in this Pocket City from 2007 to 2009 and changed living quarters three times as the owner kept selling the houses. The last month he even lived in the nearby Marquette.

Coming back to this place felt like we never left.

The big river is wide here as the Wisconsin River flows into it. Houseboats and boatels were floating on the water, and crews were putting more in. The river gives livelihood to many just like hundreds of years ago.

The 39th annual Rendezvous set-up on St. Feriole Island featured teepees and tents of all sorts. The tents line up the streets on the island. Vendors offered food such as fresh Mississippi fried catfish and turtle soup, Indian fry bread and tacos, fried pickles, frog legs and chips.

Curiosities included steins made from wood and tusks, hundreds of furs and fur hats, rocks and minerals, necklaces and peace pipes.

Competitions featured a black powder rifle shoot, hawk and knife throw, cooking and games for children and adults.

Demonstrations such as blacksmithing, pottery, storytelling took place at individual camps.

Most campers were dressed up in period attire that was also for sale at many outfits.

 

To be continued

 

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova

Old Man River

Watch for my stories from the Old Man River Mississippi on http://emmapalova.com

Pictured in the selfie are Ludek and Emma in McGregor, Iowa on the banks of the big river.

It was a trip into the past at its best. I rediscovered treasures like Paper Moon for my cover photo and the magnificent river.

A selfie from the Old Man River Mississipi
A selfie from the Old Man River Mississipi