We awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of thunder and rain lashing against our window.
Neither of us have had as good a rest this trip as last night. It was nice; no drunks, fisherman, slamming doors, or screaming kids. We nearly missed breakfast at the hotel. The night clerk told us it ended at 10:30, but apparently it was at 10am. We arrived at 9:58am and they were already taking everything away. We managed to grab a few things and went back up to our room. Sometime just before noon the rain stopped and we decided to head out. Even though we finally got a good night sleep, we were moving slowly. We had only planned on 200 miles today, so no need to rush. A strong wind blew the rain and the clouds away.
We put on our raingear since there was a lot of rain on the road and we didn’t want the rest of our gear getting wet. It was also a bit chilly in the mid 60s and the rain suits kept us warm. We stopped at the visitor center in Dubuque to get a new map since ours was taped to the bedroom door at home. I ran into the same woman who I met last year!
Last year my wife and I visited Dubuque, and the worker at the visitor center (forgot her name) told us about the Great River Road and gave us a map (now taped to the bedroom door). That map planted the seed for the trip we are on now. It was great to meet her again and thank her for the idea. She also gave me another map! We took 52 south out of Dubuque hoping for some great scenery. We weren’t disappointed. It was great for fifty miles or so.
South of Bellevue the riverside became very industrial and I wished I had tried the IL side. The river is so wide at this point. There are islands in the middle big enough for a 600 person town. Sabula, IA is Iowa’s only island town. It’s in the middle of the Mississippi River! Two days ago I was able to walk across the river, and now I wouldn’t even be able to swim it. Amazing!
The afternoon got very hot and muggy. A number of the bank signs over a 100 mile area all said 91-94F. It wasn’t very comfortable, but the mesh gear made it bearable. We stopped frequently and rested in the shade.
At one point, I even took a short nap. Riding in the heat is exhausting. We were on top of a hill overlooking the river and the breeze felt great.
It was also lucky to end up on that hill. We saw these two signs that explained the history of the Great River Road.
The first one is just a quote from Mark Twain about how great the view is from the hill. It is good. The second is the important one. It says:
“Great River Road
Charles H. Young for Muscatine devoted most of his life to the establishment of the Great River Road.
In 1916, the idea of a scenic highway was conceived and an organization formed. Charles Young became a director. A commission was organized in 1938 to plan a Mississippi River Parkway. Young was one of the Iowa members. In 1955, he became “Pilot” of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, and was active in its efforts until his death in 1969.
The vision Young had included signs with pilot wheel symbols marking highways from Manitoba to Mississippi. The green and white pilot wheel makers can now be followed from Kenora, Ontario, Canada to New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the longest parkway in the world, a 5,600 mile panorama full of historical lore.
Iowa Department of Transportation 1978”
Finding this sign today was very meaningful after meeting the woman in the visitor center. Both of the two people that made this trip possible in one day.
With all of the industry there were some really unpleasant smells. I was secretly wishing for the sun baked manure smell of Wisconsin back instead. It was so bad in southern Buffalo we held our breath. I don’t know what they were making or processing, but it smelled terrible.
Too much of this:
and too many of these:
We got a bit of a shock just north of Burlington when one of my favorite signs appeared: “Pavement Ends”! The gravel was in much better shape than those a few days ago in Minnesota, and we were able to ride along at 30mph. It still required all of my concentration though. At one point, I saw my wife waving, but I never saw at what. She said she was waving back at a farmer in a field. I never saw him; I was very focused on the road. I enjoyed it this time. I wonder how much more we’ll run into.
Overall, the scenery today wasn’t nearly as good as the previous two days once we reached about the middle of Iowa. Next time, I’ll take the Illinois side. Lots of bridges today as well. Here are three; I didn’t capture all of them.
We rode 216 miles today from Dubuque, IA to Fort Madison, IA. Tomorrow, we will be entering MO and the plan is to make it to St. Louis. I heard they have a heat warning there. 111F was the heat index today. My current high riding temp is 97F from 2009 in the Nevada desert near the Hover Dam. Tomorrow should be interesting.
- Great River Ride – The Plan
- Great River Ride – The Bike Prep
- Great River Ride – Day 1 – To Park Rapids, MN
- Great River Ride – Day 2 – The Mississippi Headwaters
- Great River Ride – Day 3 – Leaving Minnesota
- Great River Ride – Day 4 – Iowa
- Great River Ride – Day 5 – Into Missouri
- Great River Ride – Day 6 – Five States in One Day
- Great River Ride – Day 7 – Memphis and Mississippi
- Great River Ride – Day 8 – Louisiana
- Great River Ride – Day 9 – Rain and the Gulf
- Great River Ride – Day 10 – Mobile & Pensacola
- Great River Ride – Day 11 – To Birmingham
- Great River Ride – Day 12 – Sweet Tea and Sweetwater
- Great River Ride – Day 13 – Cherohala Dragons
- Great River Ride – Day 14 – In Threes
- Great River Ride – Day 15 – OH-555 and AMA Museum
- Great River Ride – Day 16 – US-30
- Great River Ride – Day 17 – Leaving Indiana
- Great River Ride – Day 18 – Chicago and Sojourner
- Great River Ride – Day 19 – Madison to Minneapolis
- Great River Ride – Reflections