I headed into Iowa along the Great Mississippi River Road. Fields of Opportunities is the Iowa slogan posted on the state welcome sign. Unsure what that really means but since I have been to Iowa numerous times over my 53 years I knew one thing was certain…fields upon fields of corn and soybeans! Opportunities…well my hope was an opportunity to see a part of Iowa I have never seen before. I accomplished that as soon as I had crossed the border into the state.
As I travelled along the bluff landscape that continued out of Minnesota and into Iowa along the west side of the Mississippi River, there were clues hinting of the corn/soybean industry in every small town I passed. Huge grain elevators. These storage facilities contain thousands of tons of grain before it is loaded onto barges and floated down the Mississippi River to destinations all around the world. This is the heart of America’s farming culture, this area of the United States is the breadbasket for most of the worlds population.
The mid day sun was hot. I rode with the windows down at the slow pace the road dictates. I needed to make it to Dubuque before nightfall where I had reserved my second B&B for this trip.
I pulled into Effigy Mounds National Monument very close to the 4 pm closing time. This National Monument is located just south of Harpers Ferry along the bluffs overlooking the river.
The Visitor Center offered a quick chance to look around the museum and get a much needed water refill/ bathroom break. Plus, a stamp in my National Park Passport book, the second stamp of this trip.
The museum contains some very impressive Native American arrow and spearheads. I also enjoyed the facts about the customs of the tribes who came here and built the effigies. The sure size of these mounds made them difficult to photograph. I would suggest following the link I posted above to give you some idea the size of the area.
I headed out to the trails that would lead me up the bluffs to where most of the effigy mounds are located. This was a good hike uphill and getting my water bottle filled before attempting was a good idea.
Much like the Great Bluffs State Park in Minnesota, it contains some spectacular views of the Mississippi River below. The sign mentions that the “Old Ones” watch over you in this place. While I visited, I felt that the entire place was alive with their spirits as I walked through the large tree covered space. The birds and animals were very active and seemed to talk to each other as I walked along. It was peaceful and yet very alive and unlike what I have experienced in a normal graveyard. The mounds impressive sizes and effigy animal shapes were interesting to see.
By the time I finished my hike to see the mounds, it was getting pretty late in the day. I headed towards Dubuque. I travelled through more small farming towns that contained buildings that dated to the early days of the river. One town I passed through was Sherrill, Iowa. Located on a high bluff, the town overlooked the farm country leading down into the river valley. The picturesque old barns and silos with the river as the background seemed like a perfect postcard moment. I stopped at a wide spot in the road and snapped this picture.
I was so glad that I did!
I stayed in the Library Suite on the first floor and it was gorgeous! Follow the link here to the panorama of the room.
The Richard’s House lived up to all the wonderful reviews I had seen online when I booked this location. Michelle was so kind and provided a tour/history of the entire house when I arrived. The common areas were wonderfully decorated with period pieces that must have cost the owners a near fortune to collect. The breakfast was just wonderful. This was just a wonderful place to stay in the Dubuque historical district. The price of $95/night for the entire Library Suite was perfect. I had more room and a much better breakfast than I would have had at some hotel chain. Plus, I was reminded that you should never judge a book (or a B&B) by it’s cover (or outside appearance).
I walked down the street where I enjoyed capping off my fourth day on the road with a really nice dinner complimented with a glass of wine at Hops & Rye.
The one thing I love about being in the Midwest is that waitstaff actually still know how to have a conversation with their customers. Nathan, was kind with his time. He offered local locations to see, some area history all while he took my order and served me my well prepared steak dinner. After traveling alone all day it was nice to have a nice conversation and he did not make me feel just like another customer. Thanks Nathan for the wonderful service and conversation to a road worn solo traveller!
Day 5 will be revealed on my next blog as I make my way to my destination St Louis.
Have you been to Dubuque? Travelled the Mississippi River Road in Iowa? Share your experiences or comments below.
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