As I rolled out of Minnesota, I was surprised to discover that I was just 30 miles to the quaint town of Decorah, Iowa, a spot that many folks recommended. Unfortunately, I arrived so early that the museum was closed, but I strolled about, and my first impression of Iowa was a positive one. Not a single person passed by without saying "hello".
In just a few hours, I rolled into Dubuque which felt like a big city (population: 59,000), but as the week went on I was enamored with its small city charm. Dubuque's first permanent settler was a Quebecois fur trader (thanks, Julien), and was founded in 1833, 13 years before the state of Iowa. It's a city of neighborhoods, and while I did my best to see it all, weather took a few days away from me (it also took a tent pole!). Located along the Mississippi River (as was my campground!), you can also see Wisconsin and Illinois just across the way.
While I'll let the photos speak for how much I enjoyed Dubuque, suffice to say that I did not see it all, and just up the road is the "Field of Dreams," and across the River, Galena, IL (home of Ulysses S. Grant). That's okay, though, as I plan to return here one day, and perhaps stay in the Al Capone suite at Hotel Julien.
Did I mention the kindness and friendliness of people here? How about a park employee who digs through his garage looking for a spare tent for me? Or a woman I spoke with for 10 minutes who leaves the newspaper with a note so I know what's going on over the weekend? Have you ever had campground hosts call to pick you up from a walk because a storm is coming? All true.
The Midwest -- I'm already missing it -- but in the morning, I roll halfway through Illinois toward the finale of 50 states, Indiana.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover