Mississippi blog from Dubuque IAWhat floats our boat? Um, we’re not quite sure, but that didn’t stop us from taking the helm like two river rats making our way downstream. Thanks to the (very Dubuque) hospitality of Trish McDonald and her "chick boat" Doris Day, we were fortunate enough to spend the day out on the Mississippi River.

Steering the boatTrish took us on the grand tour as we sped down to the locks and dam, meandered through Ice Harbor, and puttered past ginormous barges waiting to fill up with corn, soy, and coal. She was even gracious (or crazy) enough to let us take a turn at the wheel.

A Dubuque native whose family has lived in the area for more than 150 years, Trish had lots to say about how the area has changed in the last few decades — noting, in particular, that as a child it was rare to see wildlife out on the river. But now, after deliberate efforts to protect and recreate natural habitat areas, it’s much more common to spot critters like this heron we encountered at the marina.


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Exploring Dubuque by boat also gave us a different perspective on the redevelopment project, allowing us to see how people are using the riverwalk to connect with the river — quite literally, actually, via the plaza steps down to the water.

River plaza

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