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 

1 comment:

walterterry said...

Always enjoy your blogs. Prefer staying on a monthly basis if possible. How is your new rv doing? Happy travels, Walt