Betsy gets a facelift before attending GNR 2015 – Forest City, IA

Comments 32 Standard
Forest City

This part of our adventure had been anticipated for several months, as we decided way back in January that we’d attend our first Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR).  Our planning indicated we would be in the area at about the right time, and we also wanted to get some paint work done on Betsy at CDI Paint in Forest City.  CDI applies the full-body paint to all new Winnebago and Itasca RV’s as they come off the assembly line just across the street.

Mason City, Iowa

Betsy hustles through foggy cornfields on her way to an early-morning paint shop appointment

The paint work was completed on the Friday previous to the show, and CDI did a beautiful job for a price so low that Steve still can’t believe it.  With Betsy looking pretty spiffy, we pulled into the fairgrounds on Monday evening, the day before the GNR officially opened.

WIT GNR Forest City

Showing off my “first timer” badge at the GNR entrance

Parking at GNR Forest City

Betsy looked pretty ordinary with hundreds of other large and beautiful coaches parked all around her.

Our good friends Joe and Judy, who we had met in Alaska in 2012 and connected with several times since, pleasantly surprised us a few days before the show by letting us know they would meet us there.  Hanging out with friends who had been here before made the experience all the better.  Oh, and Judy’s awesome Gin and Tonics put smiles on our faces!

Socials at GNR Forest City

Dinner with Joe and Judy at the Lowe residence

GNR is amazing.  It’s a gathering of 1,000+ Winnebago and Itasca RV’s in one location, namely at a site adjacent to the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa.  We were blown away by the party atmosphere and all of the activities offered during the five days of the show.  Like Quartzsite in Arizona, the GNR is about the experience of hanging out and having fun with thousands of other RV’ers who are enjoying the same lifestyle.

Forest City, GNR Rally Grounds

The show was comprised of several components that make it a “must-do” for any Winnebago owner who can attend.  First, there were excellent educational seminars offered every hour during the day, and they were presented by the manufacturers of the components installed in the coaches.

GNR Rally Grounds

Several of the tents where manufacturer seminars were held

Second, there were several up-close tours given at the factory that showed owners exactly how their coaches were built – including upholstery, chassis prep, the extrusion of aluminum parts for various components and the actual assembly line, which was a complex and amazing operation.  We really enjoyed touring Betsy’s birthplace!

GNR Rally Grounds

Although we thought we’d miss our exercise here, it turned out that we walked several miles each day while traversing between Betsy, seminars, lunches and other activities

Third, the show sponsored quality entertainment every night.  We enjoyed a great group of singers one evening, and there was also a Beatles cover band that put on a good show.

GNR Rally Forest City

Entertainment at GNR Rally

The singing group Tonic Sol-fa put on a good show one evening, a talented group

Finally, the highlight of the show is the “row party”, where several states and their Winnebago clubs serve foods from their state and/or strong drinks for all attendees to enjoy.  We had a blast (and got a bit tipsy) sampling all of the goodies with our friends!

GNR row party

Just a few folks showed up for the row party!

Row party structure

The structures erected by some of the states were quite extravagant

Of course, this was a great place to buy needed and unneeded items for the RV.  We requested service on our tow bar to have it checked out, only to learn that it had excessive wear and should be replaced.  So we bought a new heavy duty tow bar, and while we were at it we ordered MCD shades for the rest of Betsy’s windows.  It ended up being an expensive but productive week as we got Betsy ready for the many miles ahead.

Blue OX tow bar

Our shiny new Blue Ox tow bar gets delivered

Without going into lots more detail, let’s just say this was an experience that we’ll never forget and hope to repeat.  The seminars, vendors, factory tours, entertainment and fun with friends made this week an memorable experience for us.

RV's lined up at the 10-port dump station as they leave town

RV’s line up at the nearby 10-port dump station to lighten the load as they leave town

2015 GNR Rally

The GNR grounds are owned by Winnebago, that’s the massive factory in the background

Rock on, GNR!


Next up:  Into the land of 10,000 lakes –


Back on the road to Iowa

Comments 9 Standard
Dailsy Fleabane

After Steve’s trip down memory lane we actually managed to walk two trails before leaving Yankton, SD.  The Auld-Brokaw and the Lewis and Clark trails both meandered along the Missouri River.  The town of Yankton is located on one of the last free-flowing, natural stretches of the Missouri, the longest river in the U.S.

Missouri River, Yankton, SD

A segment of the free-flowing Missouri River

Old Meridian Highway Bridge

Yankton’s old double-decker Meridian Highway Bridge, now replaced and converted into a great pedestrian walkway

Missouri River

Along the Lewis and Clark Trail

On our way out of town we crossed a bridge into Nebraska and stopped at Mulberry Bend, a high overlook where we got a good view of part of the 59-mile segment of the free-flowing Missouri River.

Mulberry Bend Outlook

Betsy takes a rest at the Mulberry Bend Overlook

This stop not only had exceptional views, but was also steeped in historical legacy.  The first known inhabitants here were American Indians who settled some 6,000 years ago.  Lewis and Clark visited the area in 1804.  However, the river we saw was very different from the one they traveled, partly due to the great flood of 1881.  That year, massive blocks of ice in the rain-thawed river created a new channel which re-routed it five miles to the south, destroying the town of Vermillion.  The entire town was subsequently re-built on higher ground several miles away.

Mulberry Bend

Although the Missouri River is the longest in the country, only one third of it is still a real river; dams and channelization have interrupted its natural process.  Two segments of the waterway’s 2,341 miles between Montana and the mouth of the Missouri that remain unchanged are located on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota.  They have been designated by the U.S. National Park Service as the Missouri National Recreational River.

Mulberry Bend, Missouri River

An untouched segment of the Missouri River

I enjoyed this quick stop, for my feathered friends flew around and presented themselves as we arrived.  After spending a few minutes enjoying the picturesque view we continued on our journey into Iowa.

Since we try not to drive more than 200 miles in a stretch, we made three stops in Iowa before finally arriving at the Grand National Rally in Forest City.  And you know you’re in Iowa when you see cornfields all the way to the horizon.

Cornfields in Iowa

Betsy takes a morning cruise through the Iowa cornfields

The first stop was at Sac City, where one thing we saw was the world’s largest popcorn ball, on display since 2009.  Perhaps a fitting monument to all of the corn they grow here?  Or maybe the locals just have too much time on their hands…


Worlds largest popcorn

A building erected just to display a 5,000 lb. popcorn ball?  I couldn’t get a good picture due to the glare and reflection

At West Bend, we stopped to check out what is believed to be the world’s largest man-made grotto, composed of nine separate “mini-grottos”, and with each portraying a scene in the life of Christ.  The mini-grottos within the Grotto of Redemption illustrate the Story of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Resurrection and the Redemption.

Grotto of the Redemption

Grotto of the Redemption, quite an amazing place

When you get up close you can’t help but think this is a collection of souvenirs on steroids!  We saw a similar grotto in Wisconsin last year, but it was nothing compared to this massive and ornate structure!

Grotto of the Redemption

Station of the Cross

Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954) hand-built this structure, and it took him and one helper 42 years to complete.  The sheer bulk of the achievement is startling when considering that two men did most of the manual labor, and Father Dobberstein did practically all of the artistic work himself.  The details are exquisite, and one has to walk through it to appreciate the effort and tenacity it took to complete it.

Grotto of the Redemption

Rose Quartz in the walls

It’s mind-blowing to see the precious stones, gems, petrified wood, jasper, quartz and so much more in this collection!  The total value of the rocks and minerals used in the Grotto is said to amount to over $4.3 million in today’s dollar.


Grotto of the Redemption

Judas sneaking out of the Garden of Gethsemane

Just outside the grotto was a pond with two resident Trumpeter Swans.  I think it was only the substantial fence that prevented them from taking a chunk out of me!  We played for a little bit before I jumped back in the RV to continue our trip.

Trumpeter Swan

No food?  No picture!

Our third Iowa stop was at Mason City.  We learned that it has a rich architectural heritage, including a history deep in Prairie School architecture designed mainly by Frank Lloyd Wright and many of his associates.  The highlight of our stay was joining a tour of the only remaining building that Frank Lloyd Wright created in the city.  We’d never been to any of his buildings and had only heard his name.  But our curiosity was piqued when we learned that the downtown Park Inn Hotel is the last standing hotel of the six he had designed.  It was completed 101 years ago and had recently been restored to its original appearance for a cool $20 million.

The Park Inn Hotel

Three functions in one building – on the left is the City National Bank, in the middle is the Law Offices and on the far right is the Park Inn Hotel

We learned from the docent that Mr. Wright is recognized as the greatest architect of the twentieth century, known for his credo “form follows function.”  That credo is demonstrated in this building.  The hotel is not a museum, but rather a working business.  The bank space has been converted into a ballroom, after several alterations by other owners.

The Park Inn Hotel, Frank Lloyd Wright

Original art glass windows

The only Wright-designed Prairie School house in Iowa was one built in 1908 for  Dr. G.C. Stockman.  It was originally located roughly two blocks east and two blocks north of its present location, then moved to avoid demolition.  Imagine the effort to move this whole house!  I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I learned about Wright’s primary elements of design from the docent, such as the concept of “organic” architecture.

Stockman House

South side of the house showing an expanded entrance, cantilevered roof, and second floor balcony

Mason City

Here’s another house we saw during a walk that’s ready to be moved

Those tours were perfect on a rainy day, but when the sun appeared we snuck out to get our legs warmed up on a hike/walk at the open fields of Lime Creek Nature Center.  The trails wind through open fields and wooded areas along the Winnebago River.  We had a decent 5.2 mile walk among blooming wildflowers and sections of wooded areas that provided shade to hide us from the scorching sun.

Lime Creek Nature Park

These wildflowers are taller than me!

Lime Creek Nature Park

Prairie Coneflowers

Lime Creek Nature Park

A sea of Daisy Fleabane

Dailsy Fleabane

Up in a tree was this curious Barred Owl, observing us for a minute before flying away when we got too close.

Barred Owl

Who wouldn’t love that face?

That wraps up our stops in Iowa prior to the 2015 Winnebago Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa, that we signed up for months ago.  Steve will take over the writing duties for that next part of our adventure.


Next up:  Time to party at the Grand National Rally in Forest City!


Pelicans – in Iowa?

Comments 23 Standard

American Lotus seedCorn or beef are probably what comes to mind when you think of Iowa, right?  But wildlife?  Not so much.  Well, that was the pleasant surprise I got during our stay in Amana, Iowa.  But allow me to digress for a moment…

Our only stay in Iowa was at the town of Amana, to learn about the colony that was settled here by Germans in the early 1900’s.  They came here to escape religious persecution in their homeland. To us, the Amana Village was just a small touristy town of quaint shops, and we didn’t find much there that spoke of their communal heritage.  After a bit of perusing the shops we left empty-handed, agreeing it was kind of a dud. Folks there didn’t seems to smile much.

Amana Colonies

Amana Village

Even though Amana Village was a bit of a letdown, the weather was nice so we focused our attention on one of our favorite outdoor activities – walking.  wpid30531-2014-09-20-IA-1590126-.jpgAfter walking around the acres of corn surrounding our home base at Amana Colonies RV Park (Steve’s review here), we went in search of other nearby walking trails.

Lily Lake, Iowa

Lily Lake

Fortunately, Lily Lake was only 3/4 mile away, so we could walk to it and then continue on its 3.1-mile paved recreational trail.  Called the Kolonieweg (colony path) Trail, it connects the villages of Amana and Middle Amana.  Although it wasn’t a very long trail, we enjoyed the fresh air as we walked around the lake and saw the occasional turtle or bird.

The lake derives its name from the thousands of yellow American Lotus which bloom every summer across its 170 acres.  But the blooms had already passed and the seeds were drying out by the time we arrived.

American Lily

Once the seeds dry, the empty pods remain and are used in floral arrangements

American Lotus leaves

The large round bluish-green leaves of American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea)

Having found the trail, we walked there one day to discover that the lake is a year-round haven for various wildlife, and a rest spot for migrating birds.  And was I ever glad I had my camera when we came upon hundreds of resting birds during our walk.  It looked like everybody was stopping for a rest on this day!

Lily Lake, Iowa

A few geese secured their spots on the lake

Trumpeter swan

Iowa began a reintroduction program for Trumpeter Swans in the 1990’s

Great Blue Heron

Even a Great Blue Heron made an appearance!

American Coots

American Coots


Not sure what kind of ducks belong to these butts

We caught a glimmer of white specs flying overhead as we walked along.  They seemed to be just gliding and circling around, and we waited with anticipation for them to land.  There were hundreds of them wheeling overhead, swirling in the air and eyeing the lake below. Steve said they were waiting for a landing clearance from Air Traffic Control 🙂

At first I thought they must be the Whooping Cranes from Wisconsin, but I was wrong.

As they finally glided down onto the lake, I was surprised to discover they were White Pelicans!

White Pelicans

They came in, landing by the dozens.  Eventually they literally crowded large areas of the lake…

White Pelicans


Once they had touched down, a feeding frenzy began.  Even Steve stopped in his tracks to watch in fascination.  These birds literally teamed up in formations to herd fish into shallow areas of the water.  Then they simply dipped their heads below the surface to gobble up mouthfuls (or is it billfulls?) of gizzard shad, using their feet and wings to keep the hapless fish corralled.  Amazing!


Then they moved in unison, heading in another direction.  Fun to watch!


White Pelicans

Look at that big bill!

I learned later the American white pelican, has increasingly become a frequent Iowa summer resident and a recently established breeder in the state.  At this time of the year they are packing up and heading to their southern wintering grounds.  Watching them glide in the air was a beautiful sight, especially when the sun hit their glimmering white feathers at just the right angle.  And seeing them corral and gobble up the fish was a treat.  They put on a good show, and we were delighted to be at the lake at just the right time.  This event is repeated daily until late October, by which time they have all left for warmer territory.

Not to be outdone, thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds were also busy swooping and circling around the cornfields as we headed home.  What a sight to see!

Red winged black birds

On our last day in Iowa, we drove a few miles to F.W. Kent County Park to do some hiking on their trails.  I thought my posts about mushrooms were over, but look at these giant puffballs!

Well, Steve saw his tractors and engines, and I was able to enjoy the birds and wildlife of the area.  Given hints by the migratory birds and the changing colors of the leaves,  we have to continue our southward pilgrimage in order to avoid the upcoming bleak midwest weather.

Amana, Iowa


Next up:  Moving on to Quincy, Illinois


“Nothing Runs Like a Deere” – and much more in Iowa

Comments 12 Standard
Field of Dreams

This is a two-part post – first Steve’s account of our factory tours at John Deere, then back to me for our other excursions.


John DeereOur first stop in Iowa got me to thinking about what kinds of tours we might want to take while staying in this part of the country for the first time.  I use FactoryToursUSA when we get to a new state, to assist with locating available tours.  It’s kind of a crude site and not updated regularly, but I have found it to be useful on several occasions.  Anyway, I learned while looking there that John Deere is a major employer in the state of Iowa, and they have several good tours available. I think I’m excited!

I was able to make reservations for two tours on the same day at their Tractor Assembly Plant and Engine Works Plant in Waterloo.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t have time to visit the Drive Train Division, Product Engineering Center or the foundry, which are also in the area.

These plants are huge – the Tractor Assembly Plant is one of the largest buildings under a single roof in the U.S.  As usual, no cameras or cell phones were allowed at either plant, so I was unable to capture any of the fantastic things going on there.  My jaw ached at the end of the second tour from having my mouth hang open so long.  Folks, this is heavy-duty manufacturing, and anyone coming into the area should try to do some of these tours.  And they’re all FREE!

Tractor Assembly Plant

On this tour, we learned that every tractor built has been ordered and paid for before assembly begins – the same “Just in Time” concept we’ve seen at so many auto assembly plants.  None of these big companies want inventory sitting around, especially when times turn bad.  And with computer and communication technology being what it is now, they don’t have to.  Each tractor is custom ordered, and all of the 20,000 parts required to build it come into the plant from outside vendors within one or two days prior to assembly.

John Deere

One of the large tractors built at this plant

Speaking of technology, John Deere harvesters can now be ordered with state-of-the-art GPS built-in.  Accuracy?  How about within 1/4″ over 6 miles!  It’s no wonder the corn fields out here are so perfectly straight.  The tour guide told us a tractor can be programmed to go down a field, lift its accessory, turn around, put the accessory back down and continue down the next row – without the driver touching anything!

A tractor can be built in about 8 hours, and they are churning them out fast and furious for customers all over the U.S. and around the world.

Corn rows in Iowa

Perfectly straight rows of tightly-packed corn, courtesy of GPS technology!

The Engine Works Plant

The Engine Works Plant was awesome.  Hundreds of gorgeous completed engines sitting there ready to be shipped, and the tour took us through every step of machining and assembling an engine – as we watched the workers.  From engine blocks that had just come out of the foundry to final assembly and paint, they do every machining and assembly operation on the larger engines right here.  Engines are available in a myriad of colors – green for agricultural, white for marine, yellow for industrial and red for fire trucks. Absolute works of art, I was in engine heaven!  Wait, haven’t I heard someone say that about birds?

John Deere equipement at work

We spotted the finished product at work in a nearby field

I would have loved to go back to tour the foundry, but the 150-mile round trip prevented it on this stop – too many other things to see and do.  Maybe on our way back north next summer?  We’ll see!

Iowa Corn fields

Most of the corn you see growing in fields across Iowa is field corn. Very little of it is Iowa sweet corn.


I was not exactly in heaven like Steve but I did enjoy these tours.  They were a bit different than the usual airplane or automobile factory tours.  To me it was just fitting to tag along, as we are in the midst of Americas number one corn producer, Iowa.  I learned the secret of how the farmers plant their corn in a straight line and how efficient they are, using the advanced technology available to them now.

Field of Dreams

“If you build it, he will come.”  “Is this heaven?  No, it’s Iowa.”  Remember those phrases? Well, we visited the site that made them famous, the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa. It’s been over 25 years since the movie was made, and we discovered that the baseball diamond carved out of a corn field to pursue a dream remain unchanged.  The place has been preserved exactly as it was in the movie, and it’s not over-commercialized – just a quiet little field next to a farm house out in the country.  I suppose the simplicity of it is what made the film so endearing.  Although I’m not a baseball fan, I thought the movie was quite inspiring.

Fields of Dreams, Iowa

My lame re-enactment of the ghost players in the movie

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams, Iowa

Field of Dreams from a distance

 Basilica of St. Francis Xavier

On our way back home from the Field of Dreams, we observed two steeples standing out in the distance.  We made a turn toward town to investigate and found that they belonged to the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, one of only a few Basilicas in the United States.  It is unique, in as much as it’s the only one in a rural area; all the others are in metropolitan cities.  This is considered one of the finest examples of true medieval gothic architecture.  The Catholic church confers the title of Basilica on churches of unusual architectural or spiritual significance.  This church was raised to the rank of Minor Basilica by a proclamation of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII on May 11, 1956.

As some of you have commented on my previous posts, there are many hidden treasures out there in small town America.  We are always on the lookout for them, but many times we’re just pleasantly surprised to stumble on something unusual and delightful.  We are so thrilled to be traveling this way and taking in the scenery and simplicity of life that can’t be experienced in the big cities.

Let me leave you with this amusing sign we saw along the road 🙂


Well, this one made me laugh!


Next up:  Pelicans – in Iowa?


Tri-states means triple the fun!

Comments 14 Standard
The Big M, Platteville, WI

wpid30207-2014-09-10-WI-1410232-.jpgOur slow southern migration continued to our next stop at Kieler, Wisconsin, which just happens to lie at the junction of three states – Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.  We established our one-week home base at Rustic Barn Campground and RV Park (Steve’s review here).  The unsettled weather while here added some spice to our “activities planning”, but I used my “Daytripper Book of 101 Things To Do”, to choose the ones that piqued our curiosity and were within a reasonable driving distance.

Upon settling in, we wondered what the small building just across from Betsy was.  I went over to check it out and discovered it’s a very small chapel that seats 25 people, complete with stained glass windows and wooden pews.  Not something we see in campgrounds very often!  I learned that it’s not only a chapel available to campers, but is also used occasionally for weddings.

Rustic Barn Campground

An antiquated chapel right in front of Betsy

Each morning, with coffee in hand, we looked out over this dairy farm to watch the farmers and cows doing their thing:

Rolling Hills Dairy Farm Cooperative

Rolling Hills Dairy Farm Cooperative

When the cows were out grazing, Steve would walk down and have a chat with them.  He decided not to join them in eating grass though – it doesn’t go well with coffee.

Rolling Hills Dairy Farm Cooperative

Honey, can we have steak for dinner?

While passing through Platteville, Wisconsin, a big “M” on a hill caught my attention for an obvious reason – it’s my first initial!  It was visible from many miles away, probably because it’s supposedly the world’s largest “M”, a claim made by the city’s Chamber of Commerce that remains unchallenged.  The letter is etched into a one-mile long by half-mile wide mound that rises 450 ft. above its surroundings.  At 241 ft. high, 214 ft. wide and with 25 ft. wide legs, it definitely stands out.  In 1937, some engineering students built this letter to represent the miners of Platteville.  It continues to be maintained today, as folks occasionally whitewash the stones and light it on homecoming days.

Just 5 miles from our campground was a series of grottos and shrine structures covered in shells, stones, tile pieces, wood, glass, gems and geodes collected from all over the world. Father Mathius Wernerus, who created it between 1925 and 1930, dedicated it to the unity of God and country.


From afar this looked like an ordinary grotto, but upon closer inspection we realized the enormity of the project, as we saw the thousands of pieces that had been imbedded into the cement.  The creativity and tediousness of it is quite amazing, and we actually stopped by twice to take in the detail and workmanship.  You never know where you’ll find something so cool and unusual – worth a stop if you’re in the area.


Galena, Illinois

We crossed the state border into Illinois about 20 miles from our campground to visit Galena, Illinois.  The word galena is the technical term for sulphide of lead, which existed in considerable quantities in northwestern Illinois.  The city of Galena was born in 1826 and became very prosperous.  In fact, there was a time during the mid-1800’s when it was larger than Chicago.  It provided a core transportation hub (steamship, railroad and highways) and was a rich base for lead mining.  When the mining ceased, Galena’s glory days were over and the city was almost forgotten.  But the buildings left behind represent a large variety of architectural styles, and 85% of them are listed on the National Historical Registry.

Galena River

Galena River

Galena, IL

A levee was constructed after a flash flood in 2011

Main Street in downtown Galena has a large number of specialty shops and restaurants, plus a winery and brewery.  It was a great place to shop and have lunch – we went back twice.

Galena, IL

Main street, Galena, IL

Galena, IL

After the first day of looking around at the buildings and window shopping, all I ended up with was a bag of delicious sweet caramel popcorn.  Steve was happy to find his hard-to-get Wingtime Garlic Wing Sauce.  If you like to make your own buffalo wings, try to find this sauce!  Or if you meet us for a “happy hour” down the road, ask Steve to bring some wings – he’ll be happy to oblige!

History buffs may know that the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, lived in Galena after the Civil War.  He was so esteemed by the residents of Galena that he was given a mansion in which to live.  While in town on a rainy day, we took a guided tour of the mansion.  Ninety percent of the furnishings are original, left by the Grant family.  Several other buildings on the property displayed interesting exhibits, including one consisting of painted stones with all of the Presidents and First Ladies represented.  We also saw White House china from 14 administrations, and displays of the pets of every U.S. President.

We came back on a rare clear and sunny day to get the only real exercise we would enjoy during our stay.  We followed the Galena River Trail, clocking 7 miles on the flat terrain.

Galena River Trail

Galena River Trail, looking east

I stopped at the Buehler Preserve, a wet prairie that is preferred by some of the area’s colorful flowers:

Galena is located on the banks of the Galena River, which flows out to the Mississippi.  It’s a very picturesque place, due to all of its rolling hills and exposed rock.  Our short time there gave us only a glimpse of what it has to offer.


Dubuque, Iowa

wpid30262-2014-09-10-WI-1410239-.jpgAcross another border was Iowa, and Dubuque was only seven miles from our campground. The city is the “birthplace of Iowa”, and its oldest city.  It rests upon scenic bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.  The Riverwalk along the Mississippi was our initial destination, and while strolling along we were able to admire the various river art sculptures on display for the summer. Downtown,  I was taken once again by the unique architecture of the historic buildings in the downtown area.

Town clock, Dubuque Iowa

Town clock in the middle of Main Street

This was the first time we had seen a water fountain just for doggies.   Cool!

Port of Dubuque, IA

Man’s best friend gets his own water fountain in this town!

We rode up the shortest, steepest cable car in the world, the Fenelon Place Elevator.  The original cable car was built in 1882 by banker J.K. Graves, who lived on top of the bluff and worked at the bottom.  Since the ride in his carriage took 30 minutes, he decided to decrease his commute time by laying tracks and having his gardener let the cable car down in the morning and pull it back up at noon for lunch.  After his meal and a nap, the gardener let him down again, then back up once more after work.  That gardener must have been in very good shape!  I’m sure he was thrilled when a motor was finally installed and he was able to go back to just gardening.

Fenelon Place Elebator

Fenelon Place Elevator on the bluff

Today’s cable cars are pretty nice, having replaced the previous ones destroyed by fire.

Fenelon Place Elevator Company

Elevator up!

The railway is 296 ft. long and elevates passengers 189 ft. from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place.  At the top we enjoyed great views of the business district, Mississippi River and all three states.

Fenelon Place Elevator

Panoramic view from the top; straight across is Wisconsin, and over to the right is Illinois

Summer may be over, but this city keeps their Farmer’s Market going until October. We had fun walking through and buying some fresh veggies.

I realize this post is long, even though I tried to cram in just the highlights of our activities in the three states – not easy to do!


Next up:  Field of Dreams