Huckleberry Wroth and I survived our travels down the Mississippi last week, and we’ve now returned to our respective coasts to reflect on everything we learned. I must say, visiting three cities in seven days is no lazy float down the river — we covered a lot of ground. Here’s a recap:
In Dubuque, we:
- Chatted with the charming mayor, Roy D. Buol.
- Lunched with city leaders at a conference led by the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team.
- Found some interesting bathroom reading material.
- Talked with the city’s planning services manager about re-embracing the Mississippi.
- Drove the Doris Day up and down the river.
- Got a view of the city from atop the country’s shortest, steepest railroad.
In St. Louis, we:
- Regretted our ponyshoe dinner.
- Saw firsthand how much the river changes as it flows southward.
- Marveled at the voter-approved one-tenth of one cent sales tax that funds the growing network of greenways along the river.
- Climbed up and slid down and stared wide-eyed at the collection of found objects at the City Museum.
- Explored the Columbia Bottom Conservation area and the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
In Memphis, we:
- Rocked out at a Smashing Pumpkins concert right on the river and then got up early to learn about plans to redevelop the waterfront.
- Watched a team of men move a floating dock to account for rising waters, then spoke with a veteran riverboat captain.
- Asked Tom Jones of Smart City Consulting to sing for us … and then settled for his wisdom on Memphis’ heritage and history of racial divide.
- Wrapped up the series with a picture of the Best T-shirt Ever.
Whew! What a week. But those are just the stories we had time to write about (and very briefly, at that). You haven’t yet heard about our trip up the Gateway Arch in futuristic egg-shaped pods, or our tour through an old Southern estate with Memphis historian June West, or our encounter with the fellow on our riverboat cruise who asked if his shiner was a turnoff (yes, it was).
Rest assured, we will get to retelling many of these gems in the coming weeks as we put together a more in-depth series of articles on what each of these cities (and others along the Mississippi) are doing to connect people with the river — and to protect one of our country’s most important resources.