More Fun on The Great River Road

We left Dubuque without reservations or any plan other than to continue up The Great River Road.

We stopped to see a Fish Hatchery in Guttenberg, which wasn’t used any more but it did have a nice fish exhibit. We learned some stuff about mussels – did you know they spend their early life attached to a fish? 

Of course, there was a dam and a lock:

We walked through town, had some fun squashing coins on the train track, lunch at Subway and there was this:

After we got back on the road, we thought for sure there was going to be a low-speed train crash.  We still aren’t sure what was going on but the crossing train finally stopped and backed up.

We finally arrived at Effigy Mounds National Monument and were NOT able to use our National Parks Volunteer Pass but that didn’t stop me from whipping it out at the desk! I’m really a bit of a National Park geek, especially with the whole volunteer thing. Go ahead, laugh at me, I don’t care! I’ve also tried to use our Pass at Cuyahoga Valley National Park but they didn’t charge an entrance fee there either.

By the time we finished our hike out to the farthest river overlook at Effigy Mounds, it was getting late. So, we opted for the closest campground – Yellow River State Forest, Big Paint Campground. The weather was perfect for dry camping and we practically had the place to ourselves.  

Next Up: Austin, Austin, Minnesota that is.


We found a nice, smallish campground just outside of Dubuque – Hoot Owl Hollow. It was relatively clean with a pretty large number of seasonals, which is probably why it only showed up in Google and not in the Good Same App. We are finding campgrounds through Google more frequently and the reviews have been pretty helpful – we pretty much are getting what we expect. 

We did a nice walk through town to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

I got to see my favorite turtle – the alligator snapping turtle. Not sure why I find them so interesting – they never move! But, they are big and scary looking.

This is not an alligator snapping turtle. It is just a turtle doing some yoga and acting a little put out that I was watching.

We also walked along the river, checked out the art and watched a barge pass through a swinging bridge.

We detoured slightly to see one of the only remaining Shot Towers. It was constructed in 1856 and they used it to make lead ammunition. You can read more about it here: Dubuque Shot Tower

We did have quite the adventure on the way home waiting out the rain and then passing through some kind of motorcycle gathering – we got a bit of the stink eye, I would say.

That is it for Dubuque. Next stop: Effigy Mounds National Monument

The Road to Dubuque

We continued our journey up The Great River Road and managed to drive somewhere around 100 miles in one whole day and didn’t have any incidents crossing or attempting to cross bridges! 

There was the stop at The Sawmill Museum in Clinton, IA.

Alan took these pictures:

This last one is of a dog or sheep treadmill used to power the saw.

I took this ONE picture:

A lot of this museum was about the owners of the lumber mills. They were incredibly wealthy men on the order of Bill Gates. This guy’s daughter was a philanthropist and left all the money he made on timber to a charity she created – The Joyce Foundation. It still has a $950 Million endowment and has done a lot to support The National Parks and other environmental initiatives.  

Next stop: Dubuque

Quad Cities

We ended up spending several days in the Quad Cities. There was just a lot of interesting things (at least for us)! While we stayed on the Illinois side of The Great River, most of our time was spent in Iowa. First stop, a quilt shop which just happened to be right next door to Antique Archeology, home of The American Pickers. 

Looks just like the television show from this vantage point:

There were a lot of the items we had seen “picked” on the show – most of which weren’t for sale. There actually wasn’t a whole lot for sale, except for t-shirts. No signs of any of the cast! It was a cool place, though, especially if you like looking at interesting old things.

Here is the last time you will see me with much hair for quite a while:

We also walked around downtown Davenport a bit in the afternoon. There was the river, a lock/dam and more bridges. We tried to go to a river-related museum on Rock Island but it turns out you have to have an Army background check in advance before you can get onto the Island. It is a functioning Army Depot.

One more bridge – the Sky Bridge. It used to go to a casino but now it seems that locals mostly use it as a place to get some exercise. Up the stairs, run across the bridge and back down the stairs gets you a pretty good workout.

We also stopped in another local art/craft gallery and found this in the elevator. Maybe people needed something to do when the elevator broke down?

Our last tourist stop was the World’s Largest Truck Stop (and museum) – Iowa 80. If you are into old trucks, there was a great collection to see.

Oh, and before I wrap up here, this is what Antique Archeology looks like without the camera angle:

Next stop:  Dubuque, IA

Walking Bettendorf

We had some great weather, so we drove back across the bridge to Iowa and walked Bettendorf – 13 miles! We weren’t fast but we enjoyed a lot of interesting sights along the way.

This is a bad picture of a Mayfly. You would think I could get a better photo considering there were millions of them! Supposedly, a large Mayfly hatch is a good indication of a healthy river ecosystem so The Mississippi must be doing pretty well. Did you know the males don’t even have a mouth? They don’t live long enough to need to eat. That’s it for Mayfly trivia today.

There were interesting sculptures along the river:

From a distance, we weren’t sure what this was:

Turns out it was art, too – lots of symbolism here. 

Bettendorf was a nice area with a cute little downtown. This was the fire station, so you get the idea:

So, at one point, the path along The Mississippi River turns in and goes through a light industrial/commercial section. We are just walking and not paying much attention when we end up next to this Lancscape company with, as you would expect, some nice landscaping! Well, there was also a well staged collection of antiques. I really should have walked down the levy to get closer but we were at mile 12 and I didn’t want to have to walk back up the levy!

Next up: Davenport