Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dubuque, IA

Our next planned spot after Pikes Peak State Park was originally Davenport but we were talking with a couple out on a hiking trail who suggested Dubuque.  They mentioned the Mississippi River Museum I'd thought was in Davenport but is in Dubuque so we booked a spot in a county park-Miller-Riverview Park right on the Mississippi. 

Our drive wasn't long but not as pleasant as the last leg since the road was in terrible condition and we bumped along up and down the rolling farmland.  The scenery was beautiful and odd in some parts:
Were we on the Star Wars set?

We drove through Dickeyville, IL but too fast for me to catch a photo of the Dickeyville Grotto which looked interesting and then,  despite slightly confusing directions being followed by 2 confused people, we finally made it to our spot

The park is a good size with nice walking trails, and is relatively quiet and very clean. The river is across the road, a strip of grass and a walking path.  We hear the train going by, on the Wisconsin side, but it's not loud and though there is some traffic noise from the bridge to our south we sleep well.

That first afternoon we saw two barges but have not seen any since.  We are between 2 locks and are wondering where they have gone...

We did learn at the museum yesterday that the largest tow ever was done by the Sprague a 302 ft long tow.  They hauled 56 coal barges, the equivalent of 7 acres from Pittsburgh to New Orleans.  56 tons which is equal to 22 train loads with a 40 ft wide paddlewheel moving at only 11 revolutions per minute! 

As usual the first afternoon is for me to do errands, food shopping, new data cards for the Verizon Hot Spot we had to use for the last month and a bike ride for Don.  Cadbury likes it here but the eagles are migrating south right now (we haven't seen one yet) and the park manager warned us one would grab him if they saw him.  So, he goes where we are.  It was still pretty cold so it was pretty much an in and out kind of evening.
Yesterday morning dawned and the river was socked in with fog.  It looked like a grey wall. But by 8 it had started to lift a little and we could see the hills of Wisconsin.

By 10am, just before we left for the National Mississippi River Museum it had lifted some more and was quite beautiful, though still chilly.

Our museum tickets included a special exhibition of Artifacts from the Titanic. and since they were for right after we got there, we made our way over to the building.  I decided to be pro-active and use the rest rooms before preceding upstairs.  When I came back out I could not find the tickets so I went back in and checked everywhere I'd been including the wash basin.  As I realized they were in my bag I turned to leave and slammed my head on a tiled wall.  (Kind of a dumb place for a wall but then again, kind of a dumb turn I guess) I got a goose egg within seconds and went out to the hallway to find Don.  He got a guy to get me some ice and then, because I felt OK except for a bit of a headache, had no dizziness or nausea, we continued to the exhibit, which was excellent.  

It was done in a timeline fashion starting with the building of the ship to its demise. Throughout the area there were recreations of rooms, artifacts which have been collected by HMS Titanic Inc. and historical information.  There is even part of a real iceberg (which I leaned my head upon.)  A lot of information but we were blown away by the fact that a first class cabin in today's dollars would be $603,000.00! Yes, you read that right.  3rd class was only $620 (in today's dollars) but you rode below water level with 3 strangers since the sexes were separated-even if married.  So many tragic stories!

From there we ate lunch out on the River Walk, took Phoenix for a walk and then toured the rest of the museum which was, once again, another place WELL worth the admission fee.  This is the third maritime museum we have seen and they are all fantastic!  

Because I didn't want to push my luck with my head and on the off chance I did have something quietly wrong, we came back here and enjoyed the evening which was warm and lovely.   Other than running outside to catch a very nice sunrise and a paddle boat making its way south (with the stacks down so it can pass under the bridge) I am taking it easy and Don is riding his bike.  

Well, maybe there was a bit of damage to my head.  I told Don that I'd set up a grooming appointment for Phoenix at 5 pm so we decided to go walk around the old part of town and then take her over. After a quick stop at the Welcome Center we walked through what is a quite nice town.  From the highways running around it Dubuque looks quite industrial and the port really is.  It's an old milling city and there are lots of old factory buildings as well as many working plants, including electric, right here.  But in town, it's a different story.  The buildings are typical of the turn of the 19th century with lots of brick and ornate facades and cornices.  The County Courthouse has the gold dome and requisite statues making it look more like a cake than a place where justice is meted out (the jail is right next door)

The County Courthouse seen from the highway and the street


The bus is the same boat as the one on the river earlier in the day

Artwork in a window

Old building and wispy clouds

The Clock Tower

This was a side street where it seemed the transformers and lines were hidden

Main St

A mix of buildings

Park and gazebo in front of the Post Office

A Mexican Restaurant Welcome sign

Well, then we drove up to Petsmart where I assured Don we had the appointment for Phoenix.  I guess the blow to my head had me all addled because only AFTER all sorts of discussion about why she wasn't on the appointment list and AFTER the groomer mentioned distemper shot did I remember that Iowa law requires dogs to have had a distemper shot.  Phoenix hasn't.  So I'd told the woman on the phone I'd come and get the food and flea medicine I needed, but would make an appointment for next week in MO where the law is different.  Don was half thrilled that I'd actually forgotten something and half concerned that it was not normal.  All is OK.  I was just addled after 3 days of trying to figure out routes and plans...So we drove back, stopped at the war memorial in the park which has a monolith with the numbers of people who fought, were killed and MIA for each war in US history.  I am not good with numbers but I was left feeling that even I could see that too many people have died. 

There was a special tribute to pilots, especially those who fought in Vietnam and then entire space was moving.

We also passed the Port of Dubuque sign with flags at half mast in memory of the people killed in Oregon's school shooting this week.

After we got back and had dinner, a tug moved by with its barges and the river just keeps on movin' along

Tomorrow we'll head for Davenport after Don gets in a kayak ride.  I am not feeling quite up to risking a horn blast from a barge as big as several football fields telling me to get out of the way!


  1. Love the photos of the fog and the river at sunrise especially. How did they happen to have an exhibit about the Titanic in Dubuque? Was it a traveling exhibit or do they have some special connection to the boat?

  2. It was a traveling exhibition and Oct 11 was the last day so we were lucky to get to it. I have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity, quality and interesting exhibitions we have seen all over. I always loved museums but there are some PHENOMENAL little ones in some of the smallest towns and really we have only seen one or two that are not very interesting. This is the link to the exhibition. Looks like it's in several places and can be booked.


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