Saturday, August 01, 2015

Life On The Mighty Missip!

This morning I headed to Dubuque, Iowa to the Upper Mississippi Museum.
 I started up under where it says 'You are here' in Madison.

I went to see the Titanic Artifact Exhibit and it was AMAZING.  They wouldn't let you take any pictures though.  When you get to the entryway, they give you a boarding pass with a name and bio of a passenger on the ship. There are costumed folks that introduce themselves along the way as passengers of the ship.  There are posters, photos, artifacts all the way through and even a real iceburg that you could touch. Then at the end there's a big board of names and you find the name on your boarding pass and see if you survived the sinking.

My name was Edith Evans and I was a first class passenger so I knew I probably made it. I smuggly joshed with folks along the way who said that they were third class passengers; saying that it was 'nice to know them'. When I got to the end, I found that I WENT DOWN WITH THE SHIP. I was one of only 100+ first class passengers that didn't make it. I can't do anything right! I was in good company though. Some of those steerage boys were cute!

Next I went to the 4D movie about James Cameron's journey to the lowest point in the Mariana Trench in a submersible that he designed. It was cool enough that it was 3D but what made it 4D was the fact that when the submersible splashed into the water, there was a spritz of water than fell on you. When the sub landed, your seat thunked. When you soared over a forest, there was a stiff breeze. There were bright lights, mist and fog. I LOVED it.

After that, I roamed the museum which was chock-a-block full of amazing things to see dealing with the animal life and history of the Mississippi river.
This is a red tailed hawk that some bozo shot the wing off. She's beautiful and in a well turned out enclosure with a cool mist for her to dunk into whenever she wanted.

There was another enclosure with two stately bald eagles who had been injured and unable to return to their habitat.

This little guy looks like an eel but is actually a salamander. He had such a cute little face that I wanted to smuggle him home with me! Creatures with stubby, little legs unite!
This is a lousy picture but man were these paddle fish cool! The fish on the left has his mouth wide open filtering the water for food.  What looks like sharp white teeth are actually gill slits. You can look right through him! They look like basking sharks when they feed but they have this long Cyrano-like schnoz on them. I was lucky enough to get there just in time to see them being fed!

There was so much more native wildlife that I didn't get photos of because I was too busy playing with it. I patted a sturgeon and played with craw fish. I 'noodled' a big fake catfish that scared the bejeepers out of me by making a weird noise when I pulled it out of the 'water'. I played with all of the hands on games and videos. I watched the otters and beavers. It's like they put this museum together just for me!

There were other exhibits about water animals that weren't native to the Mississippi.  I loved this green sea turtle. He entertained us with his graceful acrobatics...

Dancing through the water with his little fishy friend...

Other turtles (who-shall-remain-nameless) were less graceful.  This guy has his head stuck between the rocks and the glass.  Keep trying little guy!

And this one is on a hunger strike until she gets a bigger tank.  What a diva!

Probably my favorite exhibit in this part of the museum was this beautiful octopus. He has over 200 suckers!

He can change his colors to match his mood or surroundings and he is the sort who can unscrew jar lids to get at the food inside.  Handsome AND smart. What's not to like?

After seeing the things inside, there were plenty of things to see outside. Beautiful paths and docks led to a huge paddle boat that you could explore and through the surrounding river eddies. 

I was shocked by how many turtles of every conceivable size that there were basking on every available rock and log all along the river.

After I saw everything, I sat down to visit with old friend Mark Twain, whose spirit was very much alive in many parts of the museum. He read me some of 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court' while I rested. You are a gentleman and a scholar, Mr. Twain!

Before I left the museum, I was treated to a boat parade on the river. Colorful and fun! Huge boats all dressed up in streamers, banners, fake palm trees etc. floated down the water. There was even one all decked out like Gilligan's Island's 'SS Minnow, Let's hope they make it back from their three hour tour!

Since the Diamond Joe Casino was directly across the street from the museum, I took $20 and enjoyed a little air conditioned gambling. I left with $291 (and I was playing pennies) so it was well worth the stroll across the road!

It was an amazing, Amazing, AMAZING experience and I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Dubuque!  

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