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Snapshots of A Riverboat Cruise: A Ride on the Mississippi River

Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi River

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In October, my mom and aunt came to visit while Simon was still on Fall Break from school. And we all four took a ride on a short riverboat cruise.

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We boarded the Riverboat Twilight early one morning, while the sun was still rising.

My Aunt Jeanne had told my mom that a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River was something she’d always wanted to do, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

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Our boat, The Riverboat Twilight, was built in 1987, but it was made to look like a turn-of-the-century riverboat.

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We thoroughly enjoyed all the little details that made it feel older.

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It was already fairly cold in October, but we managed to find the sunny spots on the boat, usually on the side or the back so we were out of the wind.

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We also had a dining room table that we hung out at plenty. We were served all our meals and several snacks on the boat, plus we played cards a lot at our little table for four.

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As we rode up the river from La Claire, Iowa to Dubuque, Iowa, the captain would occasionally come on over the loudspeaker and tell us some bits of history about the river. I had no idea what a huge industry there is around the river, so we learned about the millions of dollars that are spent sending goods up and down the river, as well as the folks who work 24 hours a day in order to keep the channels deep and clear for the barges.

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The trees were beautiful all up and down the river, and we got to see several bald eagles’ nests, as well as eagles flying.

If the captain spotted one, he would come on and tell us where to look.

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There were tons of comfy rockers on the boat to sit in. The front of the boat was the coldest spot to hang out, so these chairs were empty mostly, but I imagine it would be a prime spot to sit during the summer.

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These cruises run from spring until fall, and we were catching one of the last ones of the season.


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We went through a couple of locks on our way up the river, but the water was so high this fall that we didn’t have to wait long inside them.

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I think they said the difference in the water levels was only about five inches.

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After being on the water all day, after dinner, we arrived in Dubuque.

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We got off the boat in Dubuque and took a short walk along the river to a hotel where we were staying.

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Our luggage, which we’d dropped off before boarding that morning, was already waiting for us in our rooms. (Such a treat!)

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Before we got off for the evening, Mom and Jeanne made their way to the bow of the boat and had a little Titanic moment.

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You have to squint to spot them. 🙂

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From our hotel room, we watched our boat cross the river and dock for the night.

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We only explored Dubuque a little bit. We walked around before it got dark and then the next morning we went to the museum for the Mississippi River before we got back on the boat.

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Our tickets to this museum were included in our cruise so we quickly ran through and saw the river habitats, some very playful river otters, an old dredging barge, snakes and a restored cabin that used to be in the woods by the river.

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We sort of popped into the museum as an afterthought because we had time after breakfast, but it was actually super impressive and way worth visiting. It was spread out over several blocks right near the Riverboat Cruise docking area.

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We were back on the boat before lunch, so Simon was happy. It seemed like they were constantly serving food on the Riverboat Twilight.

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For most of our ride back down the river, we sat in the back of the boat, in the sunshine of course.

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Occasionally we would get up to get a better look at an eagle.

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I loved spotting their white heads. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many eagles before.

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We also sat inside and played lots more cards. We had live music inside on the boat for both days, but the second day we stayed in and listened to most of it. Hearing someone sing Proud Mary while you’re rolling down the river is essential, I think. Even better when it’s played on a banjo.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Riverboat Cruise. Simon said it was his favorite part of fall break. I’m sure that was mostly because he got to be with Granjules and Aunt Jeanne. Super thankful to them for this fun fall adventure!

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