Day 4

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July 11, 2000

Day 4 starts with us in our campground, and Laura trying to figure out where the hell we are...

Okay, I'm pretty sure we're still in the United States

Robert looking grumpy because he had to do the dishes

And one of the best things about tooling around in an RV, is that (if you're clever enough to bring your espresso maker) you can make your very own espressos in the morning! This is important when in Middle America, as sometimes it's as much as two or even three miles between espresso stands!

"When you steam your milk, make sure you pay close attention to what you are doing!"

The SS Creaks and Groans docked at Blackhawk Valley Campground near Rockford, Illinois

Past those other RV's is a river, but not the Mighty Mississippi

Laura's latte enjoys the summer morning

After a leisurely latte, we pack up and head out, and immediately get lost! We're looking for the Discovery Museum in Rockford, but we can't find it. By complete confusion (or telekinetic manipulation) we end up at The Old Dolls' House Museum that Laura didn't know about, but was happy to visit!

Laura claims she used no special powers to "accidentally" discover this museum

This museum had "rooms from around the world," including an "Itialian villa" house. Laura says they all looked like they were done by the same person. If so, that person was very busy!

Somebody read "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse" and got inspired to make a house for the Country Mice

The mice have tea

Laura gazes at the Thailand exhibit

Some country or another. China, maybe?

Various shots of one of the Japanese houses; Laura is working on a Japanese room box, so she wanted some pictures to help get ideas

Laura liked this house because they completed the "fourth wall" of the dollhouse (usually one side is missing so you can look in). These walls are on hinges, so you can close them, and the little people inside have no idea what's going on.

This dollhouse "shows the prosperity of the Victorian Era," which is another way of saying "I made a lot of stuff, and by gummy I'm going to use it all!"

Every office should have a film projector on the desk

After looking through the miniature museum, we ask Mr. Map Quest (using Laura's Palm VII wireless connection) how to get to the Discovery Museum (which is where we initially wanted to go, remember?). Mr. Map Quest says, "You already passed it once, you dummies!" After smacking Mr. Map Quest in the head, we turn around and head for the center.

We finally discover The Discover Center!

Basically, it's a Kid Oriented science museum. The exhibits were pretty fun, although some of them were the worse for wear.

The computer tracks Robert's movements and translates them into colors

Laura dances in front of the computer screen

The first meeting of the Robert & Laura club will come to order!

Hey! How'd I get here?

By crossing through a tunnel, we got to The Burpee Museum of Natural History, which is (apparently) brand new. At least all the exhibits are nice and neat, and there's still lots of room for more stuff. They had a T. Rex (replica, but life size) skeleton right in the center!

Guess who's on the menu today?

Although Laura is threatened by the T. Rex, the Wooly Mammoth will protect her!

That's Mr. T. Rex to you, bub!

We liked the name of this dinosaur. Poor guy. Must have had a rough childhood.

This is the T. Neglectus skeleton

If things had gone better, we would be seeing the life size versions of these in Central Park (New York). It was going to be installed in the 1800's, but some dickhead vandals broke into the sculptor's studio and wrecked it and the sculptor got discouraged. Drat!

An aerial view of Mr. T. Rex.

Mr. Rex in front of a mural of his Golden Years

When we finish looking at museums in Rockford, we saddle up and launch the SS Creaks and Groans on a course to Iowa (the second "I" state). Iowa is on the other side of the Mississippi from Illinois, so we can't just zip over there when we feel like it. We have to find a "crossing" with a "bridge" on it.

And the bridge we found barely qualified. It was a centuries old steel span (well, maybe not centuries old, but it sure felt like it). It was barely large enough for the SS Creaks and Groans, and we were very happy there was no oncoming traffic.

The Mississippi is pretty amazing. It doesn't so much flow as it oozes everywhere. The bridge crossed part of it, but we kept crossing parts of it, and swampy areas, and muddy areas for the next couple of miles. It was sort of like driving in the middle of the river.

Eventually, we reached enough dry land that they could build something, so they put in a Visitor Center, which we visited. We think we were probably the first people there all day (open 8 am to 5 pm). The lady there was very nice, so we went downstairs to the gift shop and bought some homemade jam (very tasty) and some Amish toffee.

This is an actual Iowa schoolhouse, which is now a Visitor Information Center

Laura holds some candy made by actual Amish people that we  bought at the downstairs gift shop of this former schoolhouse. How American can you get?

After a little while more, we headed for Clinton, Iowa and found a nice Corps of Engineers campsite (no electricity or water, but a gorgeous view). It was pretty deserted and cheap ($4), and was right on the Mississippi.

Laura looks at the Mighty Mississippi (and across to Illinois)

Laura looks upstream and contemplates how much history has happened along the Mississippi. How many lives caught up by the river.

While Robert discovers that it's a treat to beat your feet in the Mississippi mud

The SS Creaks and Groans docked by the Mississippi

And then Robert cooks up an All-American meal in the middle of America!

Hamburgers, Iowa corn, deviled eggs--man, are we ever American!

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