A Travellerspoint blog

"Drove my Chevy to the Levee....

but the levee was dry!"

sunny 28 °C

Wednesday 21st May, Room 325, Hilton Garden Inn, Dubuque, Iowa

Sitting on my office chair, I can swivel right and see "Old Muddy" with barges being pushed up and down the river. To the right, bizarrely, is a greyhound race track and in front of the building, a casino. We assumed this must be owned by a native American tribe as, in most states, such gambling is forbidden. Normal state laws do not apply in Indian "reservations". However, we now find out that it's owned by the city of Dubuque. Pronounced Doobook.

This river road is absolutely splendid. We spent an hour crawling in traffic to get out of Chicago but then, before we knew it, we were in bucolic Illinois farm land. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Last night, we got the "El" to State & Lake, the nearest station to Marshall Field (aka Macy's). The "El" stations are not for the unfit (wheezes John) as there are steep staircases to get, first to the ticket office level, then more up to the platform. Until a nice young station attendant gave us his own CTA (transport) map, we kept going the wrong way. These maps seem to be like gold dust and we are lucky to have got this one. At last we understand the arcane system, or think we do.

We were disappointed to find that, at 6.30, the store was almost empty with similar assistant to customer ratios as Corte Ingles in Cartagena. Bob has had a sore toe for most of the trip but tried on some shoes. None could be found the right size. Again John and the wonderful black lady assistant hit if off and we were in hysterics over Bob's toe. Bob was not laughing, however.

The Chandelier Department - prices not marked. Sorry Paul


We made our way up to the 7th floor and the wonderful formal dining room, the Walnut Room, opened in 1905. Back then ladies shopping downtown returned home for lunch; having lunch at a downtown restaurant unescorted by a gentleman was not considered ladylike. But after a Marshall Field's clerk shared her lunch with a tired shopper (a chicken pot pie), Mr Marhall Field hit on the idea of opening a department store tea room, so that women shoppers would not feel the need to make two trips to complete their shopping. To this day, the Walnut Room serves the traditional Mrs. Herring's chicken pot pie. And we sat sit by the 17-foot marble fountain, amid the original Circassian Walnut panelling and Austrian chandeliers


It is unfortunate that, on this occasion, this huge room was very sparsely populated with customers. The Hispanic waiter, looking most uncomfortable in his penguin suit, was trying to make himself appear busy. However, the food was good and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. We do hope they manage to keep it going after all these years.

Bob's Fish & Chips


John's Meatloaf


By the time we emerged from the all-but empty store, it was dark (and a bit rainy) so the three theatres we could see were lit up with dazzling neon displays.


Then the "El" back to the Palmer House to complete packing and watch "Dancing with the Stars" and they still had not started dancing so we turned off the TV and listened to another Paul Temple episode (we've been falling asleep during these every night).


Front of the Palmer House; strangely tranquil last night, which it wasn't when we arrived in our Chevy!


This morning, we were up quite early and called down to the valet who brought our Chevrolet Equinox round to the side entrance, right by the elevators, so no real hassle in getting the cases round. But we could not understand why the valet had a problem getting the suitcases in the"trunk". There was tons of space for them...... in the other car. Doh! A much smaller car so we eventually put one of the back seats down and it all fitted in nicely.

As mentioned, the traffic out of Chicago on the Reagan Memorial Highway was grim. How do people do this every day? Why do people do this everyday when, for most of them, there is a perfectly good rail and subway system?

Out in the Illinois farmland we really enjoyed the spectacle of neat houses, cut grass and tidy farms (mowing seems to be an obsession in these parts and half the population seemed to be out on their mowers, er.... mowing). This is in stark contrast to the other areas we have been where most people live in trailers with piles of junk and old cars surrounding them. Here, small towns were proper towns with houses and streets. Very nice indeed. Off the Freeway, we were on the "historic" Lincoln Highway.


We stopped in the small and very neat and tidy town of Shabbona, desperate for coffee and a snack. and enjoyed the best home-cooked breakfast we have had, involving fried red-skinned potatoes. (Arthur assumed they were Iroquois potatoes, if he could spell it) The waitress/owner was Swedish as were most of her fellow townsfolk we would guess. However, on the menu was a "Swedish Breakfast: two swedes with eggs". We had images of people sitting with two large root vegetables on their plate with egg running down the side. But no, they are Swedish pancakes and she had never heard of the Swedes we know and love. She was going to Google it.


Then we reached the Mississippi River Road. The part we are doing is from almost the top of Illinois, then into Wisconsin (not reached yet) and we have just crossed the river into Iowa (first time in this state) for our overnight stay.

The first town (Fulton) we came to was Dutch and had an original Dutch windmill. And, having climbed the dry levee, got our first view of this almighty river.

Drove our Chevy to the levee, AND the levee was dry!


Then on through Savannah Palisades State Park, a narrow lane which climbed over bluffs above the river, very wooded with glimpses through the trees of the Mississippi.


Both Fulton and Palisades Park we had to ourselves but then the scenic road joined US20 which brought more traffic and travellers. (Tomorrow we leave US20 again).

We then stopped at Galina. An amazing town where lead was the "gold" of its time. The town was abandoned when the lead ran out but has since all been restored and the main street is full of high quality stores, restaurants and one ice cream parlor. Just what we were looking for on this very hot and sunny day (how can we be so lucky. Last night was cloudy and there was a thunderstorm).


Arriving in Dubuque came as a bit of shock. A big town of some 50,000 citizens with river related industry and trade. It was a thriving port before Chicago or Minneapolis had even been thought of. Once Bob has done the laundry and the Blog is complete, we plan to go and explore the town when it will be a bit cooler we hope.

When we stopped in Palisades park, we could only hear the birds and insects and looking down on the treelined river (it seems to be on the point of flooding at the moment) it almost felt as if we were in the Amazon basin. Odd!

Now, why did Don Mclean sing about the levee being dry? If it was not dry, we would all be in trouble!!

Oh, and for cartographers, here is our route on this part of our trip, "The Great River Road" (part of).


Posted by Johnash 19:38 Archived in USA

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As always, greatly enjoyed the read'n'pics! More fab scenery, helped by fantastic weather. I'd no idea the Mississippi was so wide this far north. Keep rollin' along in the Chevy & have fun! Oh, & if Arthur gets bored at tonight's destination, here's some alternative reading for him: http://www.uslacrosse.org/rules.aspx

by IanT

Enjoying your journey very much, such wonderful scenery and interesting places. Paul Temple reminded me of my childhood. Those were the days.

by jill

Chicago looked fantastic, another place we'd love to see. What a change now to small town America in all its glory. Picture perfect little towns seem to be from another age. Lovely scenery, lovely food and no doubt lovely people what more could you want!

by Sue and Gordy

Notice again 3 sausages for breakfast. The photos are great enjoying everything even the icecream but what was the flavour Bob had. xx

by vivienne

Yes, Ian, Arthur is learning the rules for Lacrosse. But first you must have a good breakfast. About to have the "free" HGI one this morning.

Trouble is, Jill, we are asleep by the end so have to listen again. Will it never end? Who is Alex??

Yes, love the City, S&G. And this bit of the trip is better than expected! Sun out again, rain next week. Aren't we lucky?!

Vivienne, John had buttered Pecan (pron. Picaaann)and Salted Caramel Almond; Bob had Pistachio with choc chip and Vanilla. Arthur had them all. Stan had a Vanilla and Strawberry.

by Johnash

Are they the original Paul Temple episodes?
have you got used to a smaller car?

by Brien

A little late today. Wonderful looking store and don't worry about the price just slip it in your hand luggage!
Dubuque sounds & looks nice. Amazing how some small towns are so famous but other bigger ones completely unheard of. I'll ring the bell the cherry looks delicious x
Right, off to read today's blog.....

by Paul

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