Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hidden treasure

We are at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino. Not the one with the perennially sinking pirate ship in Las Vegas, but rather the one in Welch, Minnesota, just upstream of Red Wing (map). The Prairie Island tribe operates a full-service RV park here, but we are instead parked in the truck and bus lot across the street (hey, we're a bus). Actually, we are told that dry camping along the grassy area in the RV park, where hookups are $22, is also free (with no time limit), but our general aversion to these types of RV parks sent us to this more industrial lot.

We did partake of the nice buffet, which was actually quite good and sported an impressive variety for $13.50. It was a little annoying that I had to walk across the casino to the bar, though, to get a couple glasses of wine with dinner. The casino is a large and rambling affair, but they have a good sized non-smoking area, and free beverage stations throughout.

After leaving our nice digs in Minneapolis yesterday, we basically just wanted to clear out of the city. While I had entertained thoughts of visiting the Mall of America, just for amusement value, several of our friends here informed us that overnight parking anywhere in the city is prohibited by ordinance, and I did not want to be scrambling to find parking after an afternoon there. So instead we meandered down state highway 55 into the town of Hastings.

Hastings had a Wal-Mart, which we needed for some supplies. That would have been a fine overnight stop as well, but it was still early in the day. So we continued across town to the free municipal dump station (thanks, Hastings!) at the Department of Public Works, and then continued along the Great River Road until we landed here. After dinner, we walked down to the river; in addition to the casino and RV park, the tribe operates a nice marina facility and a boat launch.

Immediately downstream from here is the enormous Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, the two massive containment buildings clearly visible from here over the adjacent RV park. Beyond that is Mississippi Lock and Dam #3, which we'd go see except the visitor center is closed (due, I believe, to a Corps of Engineers improvement project at the lock).

In a few minutes we will move along, continuing downstream on the Great River Road, which is also US-61 along this stretch. Our "plan," such as it is, has us ambling along the Mississippi in the general direction of the gulf coast unless and until we get called to a disaster. We'll try to stay north of the confluence of the Ohio as long as we can, to keep out of the heat, until we have more concrete direction.

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