Carilyn and Dell Morse traveled River Road starting from Moline, Illinois back in September. (Source: Morse family)
Author Mary Ann Sternberg often writes about Louisiana history and culture. She's also a staff member of the LSU school of Mass Communication. (Source: Mary Ann Sternberg)
Carilyn and Dell Morse, intrepid travelers, stand outside a small café in Iowa, during their Great River Road adventure last September. (Source: Morse family)
The Morses say River Road fluctuated between paved and gravel during their journey, this byway is in Galena, Illinois. (Source: Carilyn Morse)
The Morse motorcycle toured one side of the river and then the other along River Road, this scene was in Lynxville, Wisconsin. The Nativity Scene stays displayed year-round. (Source: Carilyn Morse)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -
River Road snakes along the Mississippi River like a side-car on a motorcycle. Carilyn and Dell Morse of Tipton, Iowa have used their motorcycle to tour River Road and in the process won a contest.
The Mississippi River Parkway Commission marked "Drive the Great River Road Month" in September by choosing a River Road traveler to win the Sweepstakes prize. The Morses have received a $500 gift card for a future trip "on the Great River Road".
"We started in Moline, Illinois, and we went to just about Quincy and caught a ferry and crossed the Mississippi River and came back up to Missouri and Iowa," Carilyn said. "In Moline again, we did some camping and then went north in Wisconsin and caught another ferry and crossed back into Iowa. So it was Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. It took us a week."
Morse said the River Road up there had farm communities that would take you back in time.
"It's just amazing. There's little quaint farm towns," Carilyn said, "It's almost like they're not modernized. They're so old and they have antique shops. They're farm towns. It's like going back in time.'
Baton Rouge author Mary Ann Sternberg has written extensively about River Road. Her two books, which are available at Amazon.com and Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, are a traveler's dream.
The first book, "Along the River Road: Past and Present on Louisiana's Historic Byway," is a travel guide for Louisiana's portion of the Road. It was first published by LSU Press in 1996.
Her second book, "River Road Rambler," is a collection of stories about the places you see along the road that may not be official tourist sights, but are definite points of interest. More than just plantation homes, you have stories about those ruins of an old house south of LSU. It was published by LSU Press in 2013
I asked Sternberg, does our stretch of River Road have the infrastructure for travelers who want to do a River Road marathon in Louisiana?
"It's a two lane roadway. It's not even much of a highway because it's so winding," Sternberg said. "We have the infrastructure. Well there's certainly places out there where you can sleep and you can eat, and there are lots of things to see. But you have to look for the things to see with the exception of those public plantation houses which are open for visitors."
Plantation homes advertise.
The Morses in Illinois and Wisconsin had antique shops and cafes for stopping. Locks on the river seemed to invite stopping to tour cafes and attractions along the way.
In Louisiana, you would see stretches of industry and wooded areas without restaurants in between the towns along the road. That is the view from the river.
Sternberg recommends a River Road land tour so you can drive to the great communities for lunch that gradually migrated away from the scenic byway.
Morse and her husband have a classic motorcycle that is their transportation of choice, weather permitting.
"We have a 1985 Venture Royale."
On the trip that won the contest, the odds were on their side.
"We had flipped a coin because we didn't know on that first day whether we were going north or south. We went south, and there was a tornado that went north that day! We were blessed that we didn't go north that first day."
Morse said she and Dell have South Louisiana's River Road on their bucket list, and it's pretty high up. Either this year or next, they'll mount an ambitious adventure.
"We're believing it might be this next summer. We want to start in Minnesota, and go to the Gulf. We wanta do the entire River Road!"
When they start that journey, they will not have their prize money anymore. They've already used some to buy more gas because they've driven River Road since winning the prize. Carilyn said they'd use the rest of the money at Christmas for their 12 grandchildren!