Friday, June 28, 2013

2013-20 Dubuque Iowa to Rochester Minnesota


Dubuque Iowa To McGregor Iowa to Rochester Minnesota

Campground:  Dubuque.  See previous report.

Pikes Peak St Pk
Campground:  Pikes Peak State Park.  $18 Electric.  Heavily wooded campground.  Not well laid out and many sites are short.  Note:  if coming from the south, there are no signs leading to the park except one small sign stating “Pikes Peak”.  It does not indicate it’s the state park.  Coming in from McGregor, there are numerous signs posting the way.  Good views of Mississippi from the highest vantage point in Iowa.  Water available and dump station.  Not recommended for large rigs.

Campground:  Oxbow Park, 5731 County Rd 105 NW , Byron, MN 55920.  No reservation, 1st come first served.  10 day limit.  $18 Elect. 50 amp.  Water available and dump station.   This is a county park with a free zoo as well.

Rain.  The drive from the corn fields and farm was through a light rain.  Setup was in a light rain.  Later in the evening it rained.  The next morning dark clouds formed.  Thunder, lightening and a torrent of rain came sideways, pouring, pounding and crashing on the camper.  But I stayed dry and I guess you could say the seals around all the slides sure worked well.

In the afternoon it cleared up and I had a chance to tour downtown Dubuque.  Three states meet up here, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.  National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is one of the main attractions downtown.  Lots of fresh water fish aquariums, even a few saltwater aquariums.  History displays and some big old boats like a huge dredging barge.  overall it was a pretty good museum.  I enjoyed the short movie on working on a barge towing grains and stuff up and down the Mississippi river.


Views of those three states can be had by taking the Fenelon Place Elevator.  It’s a funicular railway and is the worlds steepest and shortest scenic railway. And it is really steep.  But felt quite safe as I watched the heavily greased cables pulling each car up and down the tracks.  It’s a three dollar thrill and well worth it.  

Dubuque Iowa 
along the Mississippi River
downtown Dubuque Iowa

Dubuque is a thriving river town with lots of hills.  Unusual for the flat prairie lands of Iowa.  Homes, businesses, 5 institutions of higher education and manufacturing are high up on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. Pretty impressive for a city of only around 58,000.   After a major flood in 1969 a levee was constructed just in time to avoid another flood in the city which sits on the lower land next to the river.  My overall impression is that it would be a great place to work and live.  Course, I don’t know what their winters are like.

Sunday, my last day at the fairgrounds and they’re having drag races this evening.  Since I’m staying here, I get in free.  I watched about a dozen competitions as each group raced around the track.  Amazing how some of the fastest cars spin around the corners of the dirt track on two wheels, the front two wheels pointing away from the direction they’re going.  Skidding around those corners.  The noise of the engines roaring.  I was surprised to see mothers with little babies watching the races.  But I guess those little ears can handle all that noise, probably better than I can.  Though I did see a little boy around age 6 or 7 with headphones on to block the sound.  And isn’t there always one racing car that’s always way back in the pack.  Felt kind of sorry to the driver each time it happened.  Though to be truthful, the last one in the pack didn’t look like a very good driver.

Distance traveled:  57 miles

Heading north following the river road, I’ve stopped in McGregor Iowa.  Staying at a state park without having made reservations, so I’ve got a site that I have to pay daily in case it gets booked.  With all the rain lately, I’m not sure what I’ll be able to see.

I did head on over to the Effigy Mounds site.  It’s a National Monument site and there’s no charge to get in.  You know I’ve visited a number of these sites throughout the U.S. and I usually learn something new each time I visit one of these native American mound sites.  Well here at Effigy Mounds they tell me that over 10,000 mounds were found just in the NE corner of Iowa alone.  Image.  That’s a lot of dirt being hauled all over the place to build those mounds don’t you know.  Today only about 1,000 mounds remain in this area of NE Iowa as farmers, roadways and builders have demolished many over the centuries.  This site is most fascinating in that it has such a large concentration of conical, linear, compound and effigy mounds in the shapes of bears and birds. The marching bear group has about 10 bears in a row and includes 3 bird figures.  These are all on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  Their small museum has an impressive display of artifacts found in the area and is arranged by the layers and age of each artifact.  One of the best displays I’ve seen.  They’re not easy to see from ground level and one has to wonder as to their purpose.  

McGregor Iowa, on the Mississippi River

Effigy Mounds National Monument

the various shapes of Effigy Mounds

The little town of MCGregor, along the Mississippi is an enjoyable town to have lunch and explore some of the antique shops or head to one of the small casinos in the area.  There’s even a riverboat casino a mile or two up the road in the town of Marquette and Prairie du Chien is right across the river in Wisconsin.  

I didn’t get a chance to explore between raindrops much more than that as my campsite became booked and I had to leave after only two days in the area.  

Most of the farms in this area are very well maintained.
I like to capture pictures of the old barns

Distance Traveled:  132 miles

Byron, outside of Rochester Minnesota.

If you're a full timer, you know that anytime one gets around major holidays it can get a bit dicey finding a campsite.  With 4th of July just around the corner, I couldn’t get into the campsite I wanted next, so basically have taken anything I could find.  A nice county park along the route I’m heading will do.  Unfortunately when I got here, I had good luck and bad luck.  The good luck is, I was able to get the last electric campsite.  The bad news is, they are limiting my stay to 10 days.  Making me have to search for a campground the day after the 4th of July.  Yuck!  At least I’ll have 10 days to search for a campsite for a two day stay before getting into my next campsite.

See and you thought Rv-ing full time was just a piece of cake.  I rarely have to make reservations, but it is a good reminder that especially when east of the Mississippi, campgrounds can get full up and a reservation in advance can be very helpful.  Also, staying for 10 days to two weeks at a time relieves the stress of having to find that next campground.

I’m staying outside of Rochester Minnesota the hometown of the first Mayo Clinic.  The brothers who started the Mayo Clinic lived here and you can tour their homes as a part of a Mayo Clinic tour.  There are now a number of Mayo Clinics throughout the U.S. provide the best of medical care.  Someone asked about the campers staying at Oxbow campground and the answer was, a few are getting treatment at the Mayo Clinic and a couple others are here for weddings in the area.  The rest of us just being ordinary campers.  

I’ll spend some time touring the area and enjoying a very nice small county park here in southern Minnesota..  

It's next to the campground I'm staying at.

Well the sun is back out, things are drying out and the temps are going down from the mid 80’s to around 75-79 over the next 7 days.  Now that’s Minnesota weather you’ve got to love.  

More photo on picasa 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013-19 Burlington to Dubuque Iowa


Burlington to Dubuque Iowa

Watching the Corn Grow

Campground:  Kristine and John’s Farm.  Camping in the cornfields of Iowa with Randy and Kathy.  30 amp/water.  Friends discount.

Campground:  Dubuque County Fairgrounds.  Campsites are filled with trailers/locals perhaps.  I got a site on a dirt roadway back-in next to the former maintenance bldg.  Pretty muddy after a good rainstorm.  $15 elect/water.  $40 for a three day stay.  Good Verizon 4g and lots of over the air tv stations. I would not recommend this site.


I left Fairfield and about an hour later I was at the farm with Kathy and Randy, friends from our winter campout at Desert Trails.  Now perhaps you’ve lived on a farm or have had visits to one in the past.  For me, I’d really only been on a farm for a few hours maybe twice in my life.  So as I started full time Rv-ing, it has been my dream to stay on a farm for at least a few days. .  

It's about 18" and growing...

Christine and John who were given the farm a number of years ago by Kathy and Randy were off on a health food retreat or some such back to nature thing with their 7 adopted kids.  So Kathy, Randy, I and three dogs had the place to ourselves.  Now basically they lease out the land for planting, so it was my opportunity to just enjoy watching the corn grow.  Of course one can only watch corn grow for so long before needing a few other distractions.  So we all took a break from the corn watching to go see our good friend Ruth Ann.  She lives in Wapello.  Her kids (all adults by now) live in the area and she’s found the cutest little house with a great yard to live in.  We had a grand tour, seeing all the changes she’s already made to the place.  Bringing a fresh new life to an older home.  

I love the name Wapello and might add, have been in the town three times.  Going to Ruth Ann’s, checking out a great little city park for camping and later having lunch at the local Mexican restaurant.  Good food and a great deal.  Wapello, what a great name for a little town.

I must admit, we did have a few, ok every night, cocktails out on the lawn because someone has to watch the corn grow you know.  Amazing how light it is staying out.  The sun isn’t setting till 8:30 and that’s when we’d go for a walk along the country lane to the postal box and back.  The little dogs jumping and running through fields as if they were jack rabbits or deer.  My cousins in Finland tell me they now have light out all night long.  They must really be up north.  

The pond on the farm

Did you ever hear of a sandwich called “loose meat”.  Well, I never had and finally had to ask what it was.  A local restaurant chain called Maid Rite makes them.  I gather it’s like ground beef that’s just scrambled around in the skillet and seasonings are added and then it’s all dumped on a bun or bread.  Actually sounds kind of good seasoned with things like taco seasonings or maybe teriyaki sauce.   

Nauvoo Illinois

LDS Temple rebuilt on original site
We drove across the raging Mississippi river to Nauvoo Illinois.  It’s the historical town that the Mormons had built in 1839 settling in this Illinois town along the Mississippi river. Quickly developing the town into a well organized city even with their own militia.  As they became more powerful, the common folks in Illinois started to fear their power and new religion and planned to chase them out.  With the backing of the State, rioting and harassment of the Mormons continued.  The Mormons would not fight back feeling they did not want to be the aggressor.  Finally their leader, Joseph Smith and his brother of the LDS Saints was shot dead.  At that point, Brigham Young would become their leader and lead the Mormons west to Salt Lake City.  The LDS church has since purchased back much of the land that they had to abandon and in 1999 broke ground and rebuilt the Temple.  The historical park is maintained by all volunteers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Paying their own expenses to come to Nauvoo and serve as guides and story tellers of their faith in this historical town.  

They have two different horse wagon rides that one can take to learn more about the settlement and all the the historical buildings have interpreters to tell the story of each building.  Everyone dressed in period costume as well.  

One other day trip brought us down the road to the Toolesboro Mounds site. It's located along the Iowa River close to where it meets up with the Mississippi River. The largest of the mounds is behind a wire fence in a wooded area on private land. And may be the largest of the Indian mounds in Iowa. Remains of Indian mounds can be found all along the Mississippi River, indicating that Native Indians had settled along the famous river and established communities the entire length of the river.

All in all, having time to Watch the Corn grow in an Iowa field will probably be the highlight of my travel season.

Always more photos on PICASA