Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Quick Trip to a Cool Little Town–Galena Illinois! (and a rant)…

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We really didn’t do much our last full day in Sugar Bottom Park. Since it was Sunday and the park was still pretty full we took full advantage of our last day of full hookups to clean the inside and outside of the motorhome. We leave Monday  and are headed to the town of Dubuque Iowa for three nights with only electricity followed by another 6 nights in Madison, Wisconsin (also with only electricity). So with 9 days of only electricity in our future we made the most of utilizing water and sewer hookups to make the rig spotless.

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Later on Sunday John and Jane wanted to meet up for one last time so we joined them for happy hour at Reds Ale House a place we would surely be regulars at if we were to live in this area. It sure was fun getting together with them one last time and we hope to see them again should our paths again later this summer or early fall.

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When Monday rolled around I made one more visit to our black raspberry patch and was able to pick a couple more pints of this delicious treat from Mother Nature. Then it was back to the rig for breakfast and time to pack up to get ready for departure. By 10:30 we were rolling out of Sugar Bottom Park and we made a pleasant drive through the Iowa farmland, small towns and quaint farms to the town of Dubuque Iowa. We pulled in the Miller Riverview Park and Campground, located the park's potable water tap and filled up the rig with water.

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This does bring up a bit of a rant for me. Why is it that RV manufactures don’t make tank level indicators that work? Ours have never worked but we have learned to adapt by opening the vent cap and waiting for water to trickle out to know it is full. If we hadn’t adapted so well I am sure we would have installed the Seelevel Tank Monitoring System. Maybe one day I will order it and go through the trouble of installing it as it is the only tank monitoring system from what I've heard that actually works since it has the monitoring sensors on the outside of the tank instead of on the inside where they can get all fouled up!!!

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Well we had to wait for someone to leave our site since checkout wasn’t until 3:00 pm. This rarely happens but we waited in another vacant spot. We sat on a picnic table and looked out over the mighty Mississippi River and even spotted a pair of bald eagles hunting for fish along the far shoreline. Once they left our reserved site we simply moved on over to it and after we set up we went to town to do laundry. After laundry we decided we deserved a treat so we drove about 14 miles east into Illinois to a very unexpected surprise of a town called Galena. Galena Illinois is really a cool little former mining town which looks more like a town one would see in the hills of New York, Massachusetts or even Colorado. The mid 1800’s architecture is really fascinating so we walked around the town (even though most of the shops were closed that late in the day).

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We ended the day at the Galena Brewing Company for a few craft beers and must say we enjoyed all three we sampled (Oatmeal Stout, IPA and their Nut Brown). We are only in Dubuque for three days but just may have to return to Galena for a bit more walk around time!

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Visit and a Hike at the Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa…

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With our time winding down for our stay in Iowa City we had a few more things we wanted to do. One thing we found interesting was a visit to the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Believe it or not Iowa was near the equator and the entire state was once covered by shallow warm seas. As a result of the seas being in the area as time passed there were Devonian aged fossils left behind that are about 350 million years old.

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The limestone bedrock found in this park is densely packed with fossils. We picked up a self guided tour brochure at the entrance and went hunting. We found a large variety of fossils to see  including  brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, corals, sponges as well as other fossils. Some of the coolest ones we found and enjoyed were the colonial corals  or Hexagonaria. It was fun searching the rock for these ancient marvels…

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Afterward we took a walk down a hike and bike trail along the Cedar River. The rivers are still high from the recent and plentiful rains.  During one such storm we experienced a bit of hail hit late at night causing me to dash out of the motorhome to save our basil and parsley plants. Anyway, we saw lots of butterflies and birds along the trail and we even spotted a wild turkey. We always enjoy the peaceful strolls in the woods looking at and listening to the beauty of nature.

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We also made a day trip up to see Jane and John at their new digs north of Cedar Rapids about 30 minutes north of us. Once again Jane and John took us all around to show us the town they know so well. Interesting to know was that Cedar Rapids flooded in 2008 as the Cedar River crested at 19 feet above flood stage!!! Some 1,300 blocks (nearly 10 square miles) were inundated. This included nearly all of the downtown area and more than 5,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by the flood waters. Even now there is still considerable rebuilding going on and the town has yet to achieve the status of full recovery.

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Of course we couldn’t visit Cedar Rapids and John and Jane without visiting a local brewery. So we ambled across the Lions Bridge over the once flooded Cedar River to the Czech Village and stopped at the Lions Bridge Brewing Company. With good beer and good company what could be better?

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NOTE: We leave here today, Monday, and are headed to the town of Dubuque Iowa for three nights and then on towards Madison, Wisconsin…