Friday, May 12, 2006

Mississippi River Cruise ‘N Ride – Last day!

(This is how I imagine the last day might go.)

We’re all up early for a big breakfast of pancakes and toast and bacon and eggs and whatever else we can stuff in our faces. It’s our last meal together because everybody will be heading back today. The boat has to be back by noon so the crew has to shove off by about 8:30.

I videotape the last breakfast and get a parting word from everybody. (I particularly wanted to get comments from the “boat riders” who chose the more leisurely way to the marina yesterday!) Apparently, the captain had them each drive the boat for a while so they weren’t comatose for the whole voyage. They did look relaxed though!

I can’t wait to get back and edit the tape. It should be a candidate for “America’s Finest Home Videos” thanks to some of the comments that I got on camera!

We pack lunches for those that want them as we had lots of leftovers. Then it was time to say our goodbyes!

5 people are heading west through Iowa and the rest are going north east towards Green Bay. (Actually, they are going to the Road America racetrack up in that area to catch a car race this weekend.) I decide to go with the “Road America” group for half a day because I don’t have to be back at the marina in La Crosse until later this afternoon.

About a half an hour after the boat left, we finally managed to head out. The eastward group (including myself) found some great secondary roads and headed towards Fond du Lac where they would turn north and I would turn back! We stopped at a Dairy Queen in Lodi and dug into our leftovers at a picnic table in the back. Then, there were more goodbyes as I decided to head back across country from there to La Crosse (riding alone for the first time in 4 days).

By the time I got to the marina, the boat was cleaned and the captain and crew were waiting for me at a local hotel. They were going to fly back tomorrow from St. Paul while I continued on a more leisurely pace back to the west coast.

768 miles, a few laughs, some good food, and good company – all in all, a tough way to spend a few days in the summer. I can’t wait to do it again!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Mystic Mississippi River Cruise ‘N Ride - (The 3rd 24 hours)
(For those of you who cannot dream, I’m making this imaginary trip up. Come on along in August and we’ll do it for real!)

The Fantasy

The captain and crew got the BBQ going and we feasted on the pork chops and roast potatoes along with some local corn on the cob and a salad. (Why does food always taste better when it’s cooked outdoors?)

After eating, I did a round of the riders with the video camera to get everyone’s impression of the trip so far and more personal background from everyone. (It will be fun editing these tapes when I get back. Some of these people are characters!)

A few of us stayed up late telling tales of our travels. (It’s funny how so many near catastrophes make the best stories.)

Sometime after midnight, we called it a day.

The next morning, most of us had pancakes and sausages for breakfast before heading out. Three of the couples decided to split up for the day. The spouses wanted to relax on the boat while the riders were going to blast south as far as they could go. I opted to stay with the other 2 bikes and we would also head south but not quite as far (or as fast) as the others.

We rode along the river all day although; sometimes you couldn’t see it as the road ran along the bluffs. We stopped for a late lunch at Davenport, Iowa where we crossed over to the other side of the river and headed north again up Highway 84. (The other group went as far as Fort Madison on the Missouri border before turning around!)

At Cassville, we stopped for ice cream and cold drinks before we made our final push to Harpers Ferry (on the Iowa side of the river) where we were to meet the boat for the night. We got there around 5:30, only to find no boat! I called the captain and apparently the locks were really busy today, so it took them longer than expected through them. They thought they’d be another hour and a half, so we left word at the marina for the other group and headed for R.V.’s Family Tavern (which was air conditioned)!

The other group staggered in an hour later and man were they thirsty! I’m glad I didn’t go that far. They soon cooled off however and we all returned to the boat around 7:00 when the captain called and said they had arrived. Some of us went for a swim off the end of the boat. (They have a slide there.) The rest just settled under the shade of the upper deck bar.

We decided it was too hot to cook so we all walked up to Harper’s Café & Motel and tried some country cuisine around 8:30.

Tomorrow is our last day so we all hit the sack early.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

One of the many desolate canyons I've been through recently!

The Mississippi Cruise ‘N Ride - Day 2
(The next 24 hours of the dream.)

We decide to visit “The Hungry House Café” for supper and make reservations for 7:00 that evening. It’s a short ride and by 9:00 we’ve had our fill of “home cooking” and local hospitality.
Some people turn in when we return to the boat. Some relax in the upper deck bar and rehash the day’s ride. We also do some planning for tomorrow’s ride.

8:00 am sees most of the riders up, fed and ready to go. We rouse the rest and head out just after 9:00 for a ride south along the western bank of the river. It’s a rugged, hilly route with a lot of small towns (and no malls). We stopped for coffee at Millville (right after I got some great video shots of the crew coming up a winding hill).

After that, we cut south west away from the river for a ride through the countryside. Eventually, we cut back east toward Dubuque where the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium houses the world’s largest steam towboat along with lots of other interactive displays on Old Man River. After a brief stop however, we decide to push on to Galena (Iowa) which is just a few miles from Dubuque and houses J&P Cycles. It’s a huge repository of motorcycle parts and is kind of a warehouse, show bike showroom and restaurant. We head there for lunch and more videotaping.

After lunch, 2 couples decided to head for the National Motorcycle Museum at Anamosa (about 10 minutes away. The rest of us head south and east along highway 52 to Mendota and then spend the rest of the afternoon working our way back through the cornfields to Dubuque to meet the houseboat.

We get back (a little late) at 6:00 pm and immediately hit the hot tub and the upper bar. It has been a long day although we didn’t go that far as we stopped a lot (166 miles).

Tonight we’re just going to BBQ some pork chops and bake some potatoes.

The Mississippi Cruise ‘N Ride - Day 1 (The Dream)

Ok, for those of you who have trouble dreaming let me do it for you. (I don’t have any trouble in that area!)

Here’s how I would imagine the first day of our Mississippi River Cruise ‘N Ride would go down. (Put yourself on one of the bikes.)

The first bike arrives at the La Crosse marina about 1:30 pm. It’s a couple. (I’ve already been there for a day with the captain and crew to set things up.) The people are supposed to arrive between 3:00 and 5:00 pm but somebody always shows up early! (Is that you?)

By 4:00 pm everybody has arrived except one. He’s phoned to say he’s been delayed and should arrive by 7:00. (Somebody is always late! Is that you?)

We’re busy getting settled into the various bedrooms and getting to know each other over cold drinks around the top deck bar. We’re pouring over maps and making up last minute food lists so that everything is absolutely perfect for the next 4 days. (It won’t be!)

The crew and I are also getting the BBQ ready for the evening’s meal - something simple like chicken, corn on the cob and salad.

I’m also video recording the event for posterity and will be after basic information from everyone to start us off (what kind of bike you ride, how long have you been riding, where are you from, are you afraid of spiders – that sort of thing).

Then we eat and settle around the boat with coffee and cold drinks for more mixing. (I’ll make sure everybody knows everybody else quickly – I’ve written a book on how to do that, so it’ll be a snap.)

Finally, at 9:00 pm the last rider arrives and we feed him and grill him and then settle in for the evening.

Around 8:00am the next morning, we’re “at the trough” downing pancakes, bacon, toast, eggs, coffee and orange juice and getting ready for our first day’s ride.

We manage to depart just after 9:00 – 7 bikes and 10 people headed south down highway 26 along the river to the Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa) for coffee and a stretch.

Eventually we head west and end up at Grundy Center for lunch in a quaint little diner.

I shoot some footage in the diner (so we know where we’ve been) and catch people throughout the day rounding a bend, cresting a hill and passing as a group and stop shooting when I get “the finger” from 2 bikers in a row!

The rest of the day we head south and west to meet up with the river again. We pass Maquoketa Caves but don’t have time to visit. (Maybe we’ll have time to return tomorrow?)

By 5:00 pm we’re at Prairie du Chien where we meet the boat and are greeted with cold drinks and a hot tub and time to relax and tell lies before supper.

287 miles – I could have done that on an electric scooter!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All right, so Katrina kind of made a mess out of the Mississippi last year. 2006 is a new year and we're planning another cruise 'n ride in August if you can make it.
This year you have a choice of 2 - 4-day cruise 'n rides, both centered around Sturgis Bike Week which is August 7th to 13th. (We just thought that people who are going to Sturgis might want to fit a relaxing 4-day cruise at either end of it.)
So the dates are either Tuesday, August 1st to Thursday, August 4th or Monday, August 14th to Thursday, August 17th.
Let me know if either of those dates work for you.
I've also been looking at doing a similar Cruise 'N Ride in my own neck of the woods which happens to be the great mountain roads of British Columbia. There is an area in the southern interior of the province with similar houseboats to the ones on the Mississippi, so it may be worth exploring.
Europe and the U.K. also appeal to me due to the well developed river and canal systems that they have and terrific hotel barges and riverboats they have.
For more information about any of the above, go to my web site at: and browse around.
Or call me at: 778-839-8738.
Darry Mc Gaw

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

All right! Here we go!

Lots of people have said they’re interested in “running” the Mississippi River Valley and hooking up with their “luxurious floating hotel room” each night. I think it will be fun. I think it will be interesting.
I think that the DVD I send you after the trip’s over will be worth its weight in gold – but I don’t know any of this for sure because it’s never been done before!

I asked for pioneer riders looking for an experience and now here’s your chance.

I need 10 riders for a boat that sleeps 14. By the time we add in me and the captain and crew (to get it through the locks), then that’s all we’ll have room for. (Remember, they’re all double beds, but I’ll try and arrange for 1 or 2 people to have their own beds if that’s what you need.)

The first 10 people that send me a $75 deposit will go for sure. After that, I will attempt to get a second boat if we can fill it but I can’t guarantee that.

I will refund the deposit fully if 1) for some reason we can’t go or 2) we can get a replacement for you. (The same holds true for the full price of the trip which will have to be paid by September 3, 2005.)

Some of you have suggested that you may already have a group that size that might want to go. (In effect, your own group could fill up the boat.) That’s fine. The same rules still apply. The first 10 people get to go for sure and then I’ll try and get a second boat.

You can pay the deposit by credit card if you send it to me through PayPal. (You just send it to my e-mail address.)
Otherwise, you can send me a check or a money order. (Send the deposit ASAP if you want to make sure you get a spot on this inaugural ride.)

There are lots of other questions that I’m sure you may have and I’ll be happy to try and answer them if you contact me but don’t wait too long if you really want to cruise/ride because I’ll have to go on a “first come, first served” basis for this first trip.

Go to my web site at: and browse around and you should get most of your questions answered.

Or, call me at: 778-839-8738
Or, e-mail me at:
Darry Mc Gaw
Suite 303 – 1521 George Street
White Rock, BC V4B 4A4 Canada
I’m going to be at Sturgis in a couple of weeks. If you’re going to be there, let me know and we can meet somewhere and talk about the cruise/ride face to face. It can’t get any better than that!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Departure - La Crosse, Wisconsin
People have started to ask where we leave from and where we go to so here is the scoop.
We leave from (and return to) La Crosse, Wisconsin which is just about where Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin meet.

We'll travel 3 days downstream and explore one side of the river and then 4 days upstream while exploring the other side.

The closest big city is probably Minneapolis/St. Paul which is where I will probably fly into and rent a bike. From there, it looks like about a half day's ride down the river to La Crosse.

The double beds are a problem for singles but there's nothing we can do about that. I will try and free up one bed for a single by bringing my tent along, so at least we can squeeze one single on board!

I camped on an island in the Mississippi last summer (near La Crosse). It was awesome!


Sunday, June 19, 2005


It never fails.

The best laid plans of mice and men often get splashed due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
Due to a pregnancy on our staff, my choices for a river run turn out to be October 3rd to 9th, 2005 and that’s it!

(The pregnancy had nothing to do with me, by the way. We’re pretty sure it was her husband!)
But what it means is that we have now lost our “floater” who could fill in for me at any time.
(I facilitate a 3-week career-change seminar and so a lot of people depend on my being there and October is the soonest date that I can disappear without the floater filling in for me.)

Oh well, the hot tub is looking really good now!

The boat people tell me that the tree colors are gorgeous that time of year, so I guess if you’re like me you always look for the good in every situation.

We’re still riding a couple of hundred miles of gorgeous roads (empty of RV’s) every day.

Our “luxurious hotel room” travels with us, so we don’t have to pack and unpack all the time.

We’ll eat well and I’ll still video the whole event and give you a copy for posterity.

More good news is that the price will likely be reduced even lower due to the “end of season” boat rental rate reductions.

Let me know your thoughts on this latest development, if you have a minute.