Our Life on the Mighty Mississippi
Not all campgrounds are created equal. Sometimes, we encounter some that clearly weren’t made for modern-day big rigs like ours. They have narrow roads, low-hanging tree branches, and tight turns. The state park in Traverse City, Michigan, comes to mind.
Thomson Causeway Campground in Thomson, Illinois, is not one of those. An Army Corps of Engineers campground, it offers plenty of room for big rigs and features expansive views of the mighty Mississippi River — for only $20 a night for 50-amp electric hookups, a necessity in this incredibly humid area. It also offers access to potable water and a dump station.
The Thomson Causeway Recreation Area is actually built on an island in the Mississippi. The Woodland Indians used this island for hunting, trading, and rituals. You can even find Indian burial mounds on the premises.
Clinton: Iowa’s Easternmost City
We chose Thomson Causeway for its proximity (across the river) to Clinton, Iowa, where we had friends we hadn’t seen in 15 to 20 years. We got together with Shawn and Christina and their amazing children many times to catch up, play games, eat, chat around a campfire, and sightsee.
Fulton, Illinois, and an Engineering Wonder
The Great River Bike Trail spans 60 miles along the river in Illinois. We took out our bikes for a 13-mile round-trip adventure on a portion of it to see Lock and Dam No. 13, an engineering marvel of the Army Corps of Engineers in Fulton. A series of 29 locks and dams stretch along the upper Mississippi from Minneapolis to Granite City, Illinois, to help boats gradually adjust to the 420-foot drop in the river’s water level.
We didn’t get to see a boat going through the lock but are glad we visited the structure nonetheless. It reminded us of our trip to Soo Locks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Our bikes survived the ordeal without running out of battery power, but we learned that distance was about the extent they can go on a single charge.
Wisconsin: Across the River from Dubuque, Iowa
We glimpsed our first view of the Mississippi River on our way westward in Dubuque, Iowa. We stayed at a campground in Cuba City, Wisconsin, across the river from Dubuque and ventured into the Iowa city for a pleasant evening on the river.
For a nightly fee of $50 for full hookups at the Wisconsin campground, we got to be packed in with other RVs like sardines. When we set up, all I could see outside my office window was the window of another RV. Thankfully for us, the RVs on either side of us left the next day, and those spaces stayed free until the night before our departure.
Despite the tight accommodations, we enjoyed our stay in Wisconsin, sampling different cheeses (and, of course, cheese curds), playing some pool, and photographing gorgeous sunsets.
8/26/2021 05:44:22 am
Very cool...love the lock shots. It would have been fun to see a boat come thru. Glad you and Bob got to catch up with Shawn and Christina and kiddos. Safe travels!
8/26/2021 05:16:46 pm
Adding this location to my bucket list. Looks beauty there. Thanks for sharing
8/27/2021 08:30:58 am
What a great trip! I love that castle looking structure, which you didn't identify...It looks old. You have reminded me of many places I've been in the past (I lived summers and Christmas breaks in Omaha for several years, and worked in Iowa 2 summers), and allowed me to relive some happy memories (Soo Locks, the UP).
8/28/2021 05:34:13 pm
Enjoyed your ventures. It’s always nice to hear about them thru your eyes. Thanks for sharing. We love you!💕
8/28/2021 10:18:12 pm
The view is absolutely beautiful... Cheeeeeese, who knew there were so many..lol You both look so amazing..Looking forward to seeing you..Love and Miss You!
8/30/2021 12:22:28 am
Love love love to hear of your adventures! Thanks for sharing! You make me so jealous....and envious! Wish I were a youngster like you two! Have fun! Be safe!
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.