Tonight we are in Bloomington Illinois. We have had a lovely few days getting here. We spent two nights in Red Wing Minnesota, which is famous for two things: Red Wing Shoes and Red Wing Pottery. We didn’t get to the Shoe factory, but I did visit the Pottery museum, which displayed a huge number of old crocks, jugs, and dishes made from the excellent clay found on the shores of the Mississippi River in Red Wing. This pottery is a favourite among collectors, and I guess I was in the mecca for all things Red Wing.
On Sunday we walked downtown, where we discovered a big vintage car show. The main streets were blocked off to traffic and everyone was there. I get the sense that vintage car owners are very similar to quilters (fabric collectors). They get out the spit and polish for these events, and they do have a great sense of humour about what they love, just like quilters. Here’s an example:
We’ve followed the Mississippi River for a few days. We’ve been hearing so much on the news about the floods in Iowa because of all the storms that have lingered over Iowa and Wisconsin. We’ve passed many fields where the newly planted corn has been either drowned or washed away. We’ve heard that 16% of Iowa’s tillable land is under water right now! The Mississippi in northern Iowa is high and there are lots of trees submerged. It will only get worse as we move south. There are pictures on the news of downtown Cedar Rapids under water on the Cedar River. It’s really shocking to see the University in Iowa City under so much water, too. The Mississippi is supposed to be cresting in Rockwood tonight, in the southern part of Illinois, south of where the Iowa River joins it. But the water levels will only slowly subside to below record flood levels. We noticed that the normal barge traffic is nonexistent on the river. We are told this is because the significant danger in the forceful currents. But we did see a small indication that the river is still operational in Bellevue Iowa.
Last night we stopped in Dubuque Iowa for a return visit to the Cable Car Quilter’s Guild there. It was great to see many familiar faces from our last visit in 2005. We stayed with new friends, Ann and Gary Mauritzsen, while we were there. John was thrilled to find another kindred soul – an engineer and a quilter’s husband! They bonded with their laptop computers while comparing notes on Google Earth.
Before we left Dubuque, we looked around downtown. There is a wonderful museum focussing on the Mississippi River there. It features a description of the flora and fauna of the River, its history and its nature. People tend to wax poetic about the Mississippi: they write songs about it, personify it, revere it, even want their ashes strewn upon it! Its watershed drains most of the lower 48 states of the USA. They can be forgiven for believing their history is contained within its banks. It is one of the great rivers of the world. And in times like the 500 year flood that is currently occurring, we are reminded that nature always bats last, no matter how energetically humans attempt to control it.
We have another day off tomorrow, when we’ll catch up with our business and have a rest before our last two gigs in the US on this trip. We’re excited about singing at the Project Linus Annual Coordinator conference here in Bloomington on Friday night. Before that, though we’ll be in Kenney IL at the Salt Creek Patchmakers guild Thursday night.