Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Cutting Edge - Day 1

For our 25th wedding anniversary, Steve and I decided to celebrate in the romantic hot-spot, the Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, Rock Island and Moline, Illinois).  Our letterboxing friend, Hartx6, was hosting a stamp-carving workshop.  He is one of the best stamp-carvers we have met, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn from the best!  And, the Quad Cities are south of Minnesota, so we were hoping for a respite from the cold.

On Friday, after attending the funeral of our dear rock-hound friend, Loretta Heininger, we left for our weekend adventure.  Since we got an earlier start than originally planned, we decided to follow the Mississippi River all the way down to the Quad Cities.  Just a little north of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, we came upon some ice flows coming out of the limestone bluffs.  They were too impressive to not stop and photograph.

By the way, I'm loving my new Outback.  We'll see if we still love it after it's first rock-hound adventure!  We pulled over on the shoulder of Highway 61 to take some pictures of the ice.

This is pretty impressive, considering that the water is coming from the rock...not a stream.  If you look closely, you will notice some blue ice.  I just published an article entitled "On the Rocks: the Science of Ice" by Heath Shive in the February 2011 edition of the "Rock Rustler's News" (newsletter of the Minnesota Mineral Club).  In his article, Heath explains blue ice:

"Pure ice is blue, for the same reason the
sky and oceans are blue. Water absorbs more light
from the red spectrum and reflects more blue.
However, snow looks white because trapped air
reflect back all light. If an ice cube doesn’t look
blue, it’s because large quantities are required to
make the effect obvious…and beautiful."

The pictures do not adequately portray how beautiful these ice flows are.  It was a nice coincidence that I had just published the article on different colors of ice, so we knew why some of the ice was blue.

When we got to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Steve couldn't resist taking a picture of the world's largest six-pack at the City Brewery.


We continued on our southward journey through some picturesque country and quaint small towns.

As we passed through Dickeyville, Wisconsin, we found a grotto.  Even though it was already dark outside, we stopped to check it out.

The "Holy Ghost Grotto" was carved by Father Mathias Wernerus from 1925 to 1931. The grotto wraps around the Holy Ghost Catholic Church and is unique, as far as grottoes are concerned, because it combines religious and patriotic themes.  It is a folk-art treasure!

Father Wernerus used rocks, minerals, shells, petrified wood, fossils, costume jewelry, glass, porcelain and pottery...pretty much anything he could get his hands on.  We wondered how he acquired what looked to be large boulders of lava rock.  Steve decided that the priest must have been a rock-hound!

 The moon was bright and cast an eerie glow over the grotto.

It was just a little creepy exploring this site at night, but that makes for part of the adventure.  Notice the worshiper almost drowning in the snow.

We arrived at our hotel in Moline, Illinois around 10:00pm.  Mapquest estimated our day's journey to be 6 hours.  Our meandering route took about 9-1/2 hours.  I bet our route was way more scenic!

Part 2 of our Cutting Edge adventure will be highlighted in my next post.


linda thiltgen said...

looking forward to more! We love that drive down to Dubuque.

Zoma said...

I think I might love it even more if it would have been Spring/Summer and we had a convertible get us there!