New beginnings

A decade had passed, since my previous travels out west, and I must say that I missed the place. This time, I decided to take my brother Chris, in fulfillment of a promise I had made years past, to show him Yellowstone, and the Rocky Mountains. Chris is probably about fifteen here; I was thirty three. The photograph off to the right was taken at one of those old time photo studios. The two desperado's were, of course, my brother and myself. Deciding to get in the spirit of the thing, we had determined to be properly attired (both in dress, and in attitude) for the trip. naturally, we were aware that the West had changed in the last hundred years. Indeed, I saw many (too many) indications of change in just the ten years or so since my previous visit. 
     In acknowledgment of the need for change and progress, this journey was undertaken in a bit more comfort, and with additional resources. Our vehicle of choice was a Ford 1 ton conversion van (conversion done by yours truly). Mechanically, the van had a big eight cylinder engine, dual tanks, and the heavy suspension expected on a one ton. The interior was set up with a stove, sink, ice box, TV (of course), stereo, and a bed platform built into the back, which used a futon for a mattress. We were quite comfortable. We took turns sleeping on the "sofa", a bench seat just behind the captains chairs in the front of the van. Having all of this room, we enthusiastically filled it with sleeping bags, camera gear, clothes, blankets and bedding, maps, books, binoculars, camping gear, and anything else we felt might come in handy in the next 17 days. There was even room left over for the two of us, and for the mountains of brochures, and assorted printed matter we were to collect on our travels. 
     Most important, however, was the food. We had a second ice box set between the seats, and it was filled, along with the one built into the inside of the van. There were soft drinks, and cookies, sandwiches, pudding packs, beef jerky, candy, chips, crackers, and cheese. We would stop at anything which interested us, or every 100 miles. In between our stops, I recall the two of us chewing, sipping, and munching almost without interruption. Stops would give us the opportunity to replenish our ever dwindling food supplies. Never have I eaten so much in so short a period of time. 
     We photographed everything. Though there is much repetition here of photographs from my previous trip, I had better gear, and the photos taken this time, did not sit in albums for fifteen years before being scanned in. Their quality is thus considerably better. We were also blessed with some very pleasant weather, as opposed to the constant overcast of my first trip. We had a great time, learned many things, and spent a considerable amount of money. What more could you ask of a vacation?
Here is the mighty Mississippi. It can be seen from the photograph, that this is a pretty busy place. This is just across the river from LaCrosse. We are just inside of Minnesota, after crossing a rather long bridge from Wisconsin. 
We had much more time, and comfort here than I had been able to muster for my first trip. The weather was warm, and there were people in abundance, vacationers mostly. 
This is my brother Chris, who traveled with me, this second time. He was about fifteen or so, when this photo was taken. I had been promising him for years that the two of us would come out this way. 
A workboat on the great river. these boats push huge collections of barges, out in front of themselves. The barges are all chained together, and there are men whose only job is to walk up and down the row of barges, and tighten chains, making certain that none are allowed to go slack. It is dangerous, and physically challenging work. 
This is Chris, continuing to take a break, with the bluffs along the river in the background.
Yet another picture of the bluffs, shot across the fields of the river park.
Health food being consumed here. 
A shot of the locks, from farther down the river.
These people seem to be enjoying themselves, and why not? Pretty scenery, the banks of one of the world's great rivers, good company, and a little something to eat. What more could one want?
A view of the bluffs, showing what looks like sandstone, similar to that of the Wisconsin Dells, a bit East of here.
A shot straight across the river. The river is somewhat wide and slow moving here. There are significant backwaters. These contain numerous islands, bars, coves, and spits of land. The geography of the place is constantly changing, and islands that are in this photo, may not have been here the previous year, and my not be here in succeeding years. 
Another shot up the river, showing the picnickers.
A close up of the locks, as an overcast moves in. 
This is what I looked like back in 1991, or thereabouts, striking a pose as a comfortable, and seasoned traveler. 
This was my brother, also striking a pose.
One more shot of the neat little park, before we go on our way.
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