I’ve been across the Mississippi many times, but I haven’t spent much time along its banks. I’ll be honest, the only thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Mississippi is Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. The fact that it traverses the entire country, snaking along the borders of 10 different states, should mean that more springs to mind than that.

However, every story has to start someplace, and to be honest, there’s virtually a statue of Twain or Finn every ten feet down here.

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Mississippi culture is a kind of cliched, but it’s a charming cliche, one that recognizes that you have ideas about what it should be and it doesn’t want to disappoint you. So you get the statues and the paddle boat casinos right off the bat. But even having been here just a few days, snaking down the border between Illinois and Iowa, I’ve seen beautiful marshes, rolling farms, and small towns of various shapes and sizes.

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The campground where I stayed in Thompson, Illinois (For 3 days, because of snow. Seriously.) was some of the most beautiful marshland I’ve ever seen. It was so quiet, and yet full of life. I heard loons and herons in the morning, owls in the evening, and coyotes at night. This picture has a surprise beaver in it!

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

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It was so lovely, I almost forgot I was in Illinois, which is a state that I used to consider unimportant and quite boring, with the exception that large and magnificent C-named city in the north. I take it all back.

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I took a drive down river to do some grocery shopping, where I encountered a large windmill and a lovely bridge (of which the Mississippi has a great many). Traveling into Iowa I encountered my first East-West Interstate with Lola, which I’m just going to have to get used to. The wind! Yikes!

But as for now, I think I’ll stick to the plan and head south. I’ll take the same route as Huck, down the Ol’ Miss’ towards St. Louis, until either I find more amazing things, or I get sick of taking pictures of paddle boats.