Facing an off-week and yearning to get back to the North Country after our memorable journey across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, last September, my wife and I decided to head for western Lake Superior. We left Columbia yesterday afternoon, driving north across the Glaciated Plain of northern Missouri and eastern Iowa, stopping for the night in Iowa City. This morning, we resumed our journey, dropping into the Mississippi Valley at Marquette, Iowa, and then paralleling the broad river and its wooded islands along the Wisconsin (eastern) shore. Scenic bluffs rise along both sides of the Mississippi Valley in this "Driftless Area" of the Upper Midwest, which was spared the erosive force of Pleistocene Glaciers.
Protected within the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge, access to the Mississippi and its varied riparian habitats is rather limited (except for boaters). However, Goose Island County Park, just south of La Crosse, Wisconsin, provided an excellent opportunity to study the floodplain wetlands, backwater bays and eastern channel of the river; birding was excellent at the Park. North of La Crosse, we cut away from the Mississippi for a more direct route to Duluth, Minnesota, where we are spending the night on that city's restored waterfront.
In the coming days, we plan to explore the northwest coast of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands region of northern Wisconsin. So far, wildlife encounters have been limited to bald eagles, sandhill cranes, common loons, gulls, aquatic turtles and a host of waterfowl and songbird species. But we are now in wolf and moose country and I look forward to the possibility of seeing (or hearing) those North Country residents amidst the spectacular landscape that adjoins America's grandest Lake.