Monday, September 26, 2011

East of the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers

Originally published on June 21, 2011

Technically, I suppose it's SOUTH of the Ohio River rather than east, but I just know it felt a little more like home each time we crossed one of those milestones. We had thought all three were quite full as we headed west in early May, but that was miniscule compared to the way they look now. All three rivers are well out of their banks and causing major flooding in the areas close by.

We had an enjoyable evening and a leisurely morning at the
Amber House Bed & Breakfast in Rocheport, Missouri. For the second evening in a row, we were the only guests at the place we were staying, so were able to enjoy the inn's common areas all by ourselves. Our breakfast on Tuesday morning was prepared by Mary, the owner of the inn and graduate of culinary school. It was totally delicious. With only 308 miles to drive on Tuesday, we took our time leaving and also enjoyed wandering around in the little village of Rocheport. It is located directly on the Missouri River and much of the area along 1st street was either already flooded or expected to be within the next 24 hours. It was our understanding that portions of the Katy Trail had been closed due to flooding.

We had decided to retrace our route back through the town of Hermann, Missouri since we had enjoyed our stay there so much in May. It had nothing to do with the Cinnamon Rolls at the little bakery we had found.

After leaving Hermann, we made our way back towards St. Louis, across the Mississippi River and into Illinois. Choosing some different roads made the journey very interesting and the day passed quickly. Just prior to getting on I-57 at Carbondale, IL for the last leg of the trip, we stopped at McDonalds for coffee and learned from local radar that severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were in effect for Paducah, KY where we were headed. Hoping that the bad weather would move through the area and off in another direction, we pressed on and arrived in Paducah under sunny skies having never seen any bad weather. We checked into the Candlewood Suites of Paducah and after checking weather radar again, headed down to Paducah's Riverfront. (Ironically, Paducah's weather was clear, but central southern Illinois, where we had just come through, was now under several tornado warnings. We managed to dodge the warning areas all day!)

Paducah has always capitalized upon its location at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. In more recent years, it has become a mecca for quilters and is the home of the American Quilters Society. A nationally acclaimed Quilt Show is held each year in April and there is a very impressive National Quilt Museum located in the riverfront district.

Following the catastrophic flood of 1936, the Army Corps of Engineers was commissioned to build a flood wall to protect Paducah from future devastation. As a result, a 12.5 mile flood wall lines the riverfront throughout and beyond Paducah. The community makes the most of their beloved riverfront and that is evident by the number of people we found enjoying the evening when we went down to check it out. People sitting in lawn chairs, children playing, people socializing and enjoying the warm evening. As we walked along, Bill finally asked someone if they were waiting for anything in particular. We thought perhaps some well known ship or barge was about to come down the Ohio River. But no, we were quickly informed that this is just what people do in the evening. This led to a lengthy conversation about what we were doing there, where we were from and a cordial invitation to sit a spell with them!! We also learned that the floodwall had been activated on April 25 of this year and the nice folks pointed the waterline out to us on the floodwall. Where we were standing talking with these folks had been completely under water.

But we moved on because the
murals were what we had come to see. To make the most of all that floodwall space, muralist Robert Dafford was commissioned in 1996 to depict Paducah's history with murals along the floodwall. The result took eleven years and includes 45 breathtaking paintings with beautiful color and detail. Each mural is lighted for night viewing and there is a placard explaining its historical significance. We thoroughly enjoyed looking at every single one of them. They are simply beautiful.

Unfortunately, I had to let go of my desire to visit the National Quilt Museum. I am not a quilter and really know nothing about it other than I know quilts are works of art and are beautiful. I have three given to us as wedding gifts, one made by each of my grandmothers and one made by a family friend. They are among my most prized possessions and just looking at pictures of the quilts found in the museum made me want to visit. But we didn't arrive in Paducah until after the museum had closed and it did not open until 10 the following morning long after we needed to be headed toward home. So that will have to be for another visit.

We turned in early with the plan to be on our way by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. By this time, we were both looking forward to being at home in our own Bed & Breakfast!! We also knew that with the extremely warm temps we'd been experiencing at home and a house that had been closed up for almost seven weeks, we hoped to arrive home early in the day to give the house plenty of time to cool off.

Other than a torrential downpour of rain we drove through less than fifty miles from home, the drive the uneventful. And yes, as much as we loved every minute of this trip, it was very, very good to see our home waiting patiently for us always knowing we'd come back!!!
Thanks so much for following along on our journey. I will post one more entry in a few days that will include some summary details and answer some questions that have been asked of us along the way.

Following that update, I suppose the journal will lie dormant until we travel again!

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