One of the enjoyable aspects of cruising aboard a riverboat is the easy access and close proximity of each town on the itinerary. In most of the ports we visited, it was a short walk to town from the boat. Many of the attractions were close by, and for the highlights not within walking distance, the (complimentary) hop-on-hop-off buses got us to where we needed to go quickly and efficiently.
The evening before each port, we stopped by the kiosk located at the purser’s desk and selected the time we wanted to hop on the bus for the narrated circuit of town. Forty tickets were available for each time slot (on the hour, quarter hour, and half hour). Select the desired time and quantity of tickets, and your tickets would immediately print out for the taking.
The following morning, we would board the bus at our designated time, and off we would go. If we arrived early, and there were still available seats on an earlier bus, we could take that bus instead. It was an efficient system, because it avoided unwanted line-ups and waiting.
Once in town, tickets weren’t needed. If there were seats available on the bus when it stopped at one of the several available locations on the circuit, you could hop on for a ride. There was never a problem catching a ride; the buses were never full.
Most of the time, we would ride the circuit once to listen to the narration and learn about the town. Once we had gone round-trip, we would plan out our day from there.
Red Wing was one of those towns located adjacent to the river, so it was a very short walk into town. We did hop on the bus, though, because the Pottery Museum of Red Wing was one of the attractions located outside of the historic town center.
According to their website, “The Pottery Museum of Red Wing is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich and colorful story of Red Wing’s clay industry. More than 6,000 vintage pieces of artisan-crafted stoneware, art pottery, dinnerware and folk art bring the story of historic Red Wing to life in dozens of dynamic exhibits covering 13,000 square feet.”
The museum had a group of excellent docents, and we were fascinated by the history of the pottery they had on display.
Red Wing, Minnesota, a small town of less than 17,000, is also known for their handcrafted work boots of the same name, a company that has been in existence since 1905. These giant painted boot sculptures around town were a humorous reminder of the company that made the town’s name recognizable to us two native Californians:
The historic downtown was an attractive little area to walk around, especially this quaint little park located across from the St. James Hotel:
We also made sure to stop by Red Wing Confectionery to pick up a couple of treats and compliment them on the cute steamboat chocolates that were waiting on our bed for us when we returned to our cabin the previous evening:
As we sailed away from Red Wing during the late afternoon, we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of some bald eagles. This one was photographed from quite a distance using telephoto, and then cropping the photo. Due to the fact we were moving when the picture was taken, it isn’t sharp. Still, l thought it was worth including:
The sail away was the beginning of our 2,300-mile, 21-day journey down the Mississippi, and we were excited to be in on the adventure!
Meanwhile, on board, I had a humorous encounter with another passenger as I stepped into the hallway from my cabin. A man stopped one of the cabin attendants in the hallway, and in a jovial, teasing manner, asked her why all the passengers on this deck had cabins with pretty names on the doors, while he was stuck on a floor with cabins named after presidents. He lamented, “I’m in the ‘Polk’ cabin, and ‘Filmore’ is next door—two of the worst presidents in history!”
I was listening in on him teasing this poor gal, so I took a flyer and snapped back, “At least you aren’t in a cabin named after Trump!” Now, that could have gone either way. At that very moment, I either made an enemy, or made a friend.
Fortunately (for me, because he was a big guy with a gruff-looking expression), that brought a smile to his face! After a bit of commiseration about the current state of national affairs, we introduced ourselves and exchanged typical passenger-to-passenger questions, such as, “Where are you from?” The thing is, every time I asked Rick a question, and he replied, I felt as if our pasts had mirrored each other—and, his wife’s, too!
As it turns out, Rick and Jacque currently live about four miles from where Bruce and I had lived during our last fifteen years in San Diego County. Then, I learned they were both from my native home town of Long Beach (and neighboring, Lakewood), California! Rick graduated from a rival high school, while Jacque was a Lakewood Lancer, like me! Go Lancers!! Jacque and I also attended Long Beach City College; however, the two of them graduated from Long Beach State University, while Bruce and I were San Diego State University graduates. Jacque worked at San Diego State University, though, and they are basketball and football season ticket holders. Go Aztecs!!
Since we had a twenty-year age difference, we didn’t know each other back then; however, it still felt like a small world.
When I met Jacque at the show that evening, she greeted me with a big hug and, “Go Lancers!” She couldn’t wait to text her group of friends who were also Lancers and have stayed friends over all these years.
As it turned out, the four of us were able to arrange a table together in the dining room, and we were table mates for the length of the cruise. Lucky for us, we really hit it off, and they were the best table mates we have ever had!
Coming up next: LOVELY LA CROSSE