Staycation - late Summer 2009 travel blog

Chestnut Mountain

luge track

mighty Mississippi

beaver dam

lots of green stuff


signs of autumn

Once upon a time after attending his senior prom, Ken and his class mates boarded a train and took a post prom trip to Chestnut Mountain in Galena. He doesn't remember much about the trip, but did recall his parents volunteered to chaperone, which doubtless cramped his style. We picked up a brochure for eco trips by boat in La Crosse and saw that one of the spots you could catch the boat was at Chestnut Mountain. Why not take the trip there and see if any old memories could be raised.

Chestnut Mountain could only be called a mountain in Illinois. Perhaps trying to compensate for the lack of height, the resort has built a multitude of chair lifts and has massive snow making equipment. It has a ski and snow boarding school; this would be a good place to learn. Unlike most ski resorts, the lifts are built to take the skiers back to the top of the "mountain" where the lodge is located. We took the lift down to the boat dock where we saw the railroad tracks that must have brought Ken and his fellow revelers to the resort. No passenger trains stop here today. It would also have been possible to take a luge down to the river's edge, but the track was wet and closed to us.

The eco tour exposed us to three distinct habitats - the main river channel, a shallow side channel and a slough. A young man who looked slightly hung over, narrated the trip. After he pointed out five blue heron and five egrets, we kind of got the hang of it and would have liked a bit more explanation and history of the area. He said that in Minnesota the river current is .5mph and has crescendoed up to 2 mph in this area. On the lower Mississippi (south of Cairo) its maximum speed is about four. The water appeared completely still to us and algae and lily pads grew thickly near the shore. Although we are still expecting to see large barges, casual fishermen had the only boats we saw on the water. The weather continues to be magnificent and we enjoyed the quiet time on the water.

The original plan was to remain in Dubuque, but when we returned the dragon boat racers were still going strong and we could see that it would be hours before the campground would clear out. So we headed south and are parked in an Army Corps of Engineers campground on the Illinois side of the river. The Quad Cities are a few miles away and should keep us busy for a few days, especially if the weather continues to be wonderful

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