Father of Waters and His Diligent Children

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July 14-15, 2019, Wapello, IA-

Almost as essential as a visit to the Baha’i House of Worship, when crossing the country, is some time spent in the vicinity of the Mississippi River.  Its residents, whether north or south, have a temperament, a work ethic, and a resilience, all their own.

My meeting with a steadfast and inspiring friend lasted about forty-five minutes. Afterward, I prayed in the House of Worship for a half hour further, then made my way out of Chicagoland, stopping for lunch and to do laundry, in Bolingbrook, on the Metropolitan area’s southern edge. A horrific accident, coupled with ongoing roadwork,  had left I-59 backed up, on the northbound side, for at least four miles.  I would have felt fine, had we southbounders shared part of our road with our hapless fellow-travelers.  The heat, this afternoon, was back, with a vengeance, after two days of fairly mild temperatures.

On we went, though, and my necessaries were done, after two hours.  Bolingbrook is a cosmopolitan little place, the type in which I am quite comfortable.  The genial, but imposing, laundromat manager kept order by circulating among the families, stopping to comfort a boy of about ten or eleven, who was crying after having somehow disappointed his mother.  She wasn’t acting angry nor was she scolding him. It was just that love which a child has for a parent, in which feeling like the parent has been let down, is the worst feeling in the world.  Mr. D. seemed to know this, and had the boy calmed down, by quietly getting to ht heart of the matter.

I stopped, briefly, in Peoria, to say prayers for the memory and soul’s progress of a native of that town, who had been a friend of ours in Dinetah, for several years.  Nancy went back to Peoria for her final year or so, before passing on, earlier this year.  The Clock Tower was about the only part of the River District  that wasn’t blocked by construction, so it serves as a stand-in for the historic downtown area.

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From Peoria, it was on to the Mississippi, in its northern segment.  Crossing into Iowa, I found my first Riverside encounter in Bettendorf, the northwest quarter of the Quad Cities. (The other three being Moline and Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA.)

The playground at Leach Park looks like it would engage a variety of child age groups.

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Having had a childhood fascination with conical roofs, I would have gravitated towards that building, had it been in my local playground, way back when.

The Mississippi, though, remains the main draw.

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This lodge-type structure is on Rock Island Arsenal, an island on the Illinois side, just west of the city of Rock Island.  From the looks of things, it seems to have a role in flood control.

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I was getting tired, as I passed through Davenport and Muscatine.  When little Wapello appeared, I was grateful to see Roy-El Motel, just off the highway.  As  tourist traffic is light in these parts, the owners were glad to see me, too.  This is a view of downtown Wapello.  The town is named for a mild-mannered chief of the Meskwaki people, who led them to this area and enjoyed harmonious relations with the white settlers of the  river front. I had a light breakfast at Chief Brew, where local farmers and retired folks gather, “three days a week, so we don’t get tired of one another.”  The men were surprised to see someone from Arizona.  I explained that I enjoy stopping along the River, to which one man said- “Bet you’d change your mind, after seeing one flood stage.”

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There was no such deluge, this Monday morning, though.

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The Father of Waters was enjoying his siesta.  I headed on west, with the destination being Kansas City.

NEXT:  Wilbert Harrison had it right.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 7: Savouring American Routes

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June 2, 2018, Carthage, IL-

I had a decent night’s sleep, in my premium room at Budget Inn, before embarking on a morning and noon of enjoying some of the International Ragtime Festival, downtown Sedalia.

The Festival is sparked by Scott Joplin’s connection with Sedalia, but many others are celebrated by the Festival:  James Scott, James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Gene Greene and Eubie Blake (whom I once had the pleasure of meeting and hearing, in person. Mr. Blake could still play piano and sing, at the age of 90.)

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Approaching, and inside, the main performance tent, I found a skilled ragtime pianist entertaining the crowd, with both songs and stories of James Scott and Jelly Roll Morton, as well as of john Philip Sousa, whose energetic marches influenced ragtime, as well.

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One must also eat, whilst at a festival of this sort, and eating local foods is always preferable.  This food truck offered “hand-cut, hand-breaded tenderloin” sandwiches.  I got one, with hand-squeezed fresh lemonade.  It lasted me the rest of the day.  (“Chilli” refers to Chillicothe, MO).

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Lastly, this performer was focusing his energies on the work of James P. Johnson.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So, the day was a perfect counterpoint to last night’s confusion and disappointment.  I went on to visit a couple, now living in Columbia, who were American Legion friends in Prescott.  Then I headed riverward.

The Mississippi, from Hamilton, IL, southeast of Keokuk, IA, offered this sunset.

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I had the best of what was left me in my cooler, at the quiet Smith Memorial Roadside Park, in Missouri, just west of Keokuk.  Out of respect, I did a bit of clean-up on the property, before eating.

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Stopping in Nauvoo, the last residence of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I found that it would not have been a good idea to take twilight photos.  All the houses are occupied, and a vigilant security guard was there, to warn away evening visitors.  It is a hauntingly pretty place in early evening, though.