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Old 08-26-2016, 09:23 AM   #561
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Hi Gene,

Sounds like a great adventure regardless of the the various hiccups. It sounds like one of our trips. I usually don't chronicle the bad stuff as I try to forget it as soon as possible as I want to avoid scarring off new Airstreamers.

We also have Verizon service that we use for a hot spot when traveling. We don't have a Jet Pack. We use a hot spot app called FoxFi to create our wifi connection. I don't believe that this system works on apple stuff, though. As long as we have our phones, we're good.

We are just as bad on eggs. We haven't carried any in Lucy in many years. Just remember, a bad day out on the road in the Airstream is better than a good day sitting on the porch at home.

Where are you heading?

Brian
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:17 AM   #562
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Writing about the problems is always part of a trip. Helps bring them down to size and dismiss them. It may help some people see how to solve them too. It is part of a story, good and bad.

We are going near Denver today, skirting around the north side through Golden and on to I-76. That highway goes NE to Nebraska and I-80. We take I-80 to Davenport and then start up the west side of the Mississippi on the Great River Road. Until we get to northern Minnesota, there is usually a road on each side of the river. Many of the roads are state or county roads and in places the roads are pretty hard to identify, so getting lost may be part of the adventure.

I made a list of all the mileages up and then down to St. Louis. The plan is to take I-70, I-35 and US 50 home with a stop to see Barb's parents in Pueblo. That's a lot of miles in 3 weeks. Figuring week to and back from the river, we have 2 weeks on the GRR. We'll see how it works out. I usually know where we will be almost every night, but this time, not sure. This is our version of spontaneity. Maybe we'll see some mooses (spell checker has a problem with the plural "mooses"; I don't know why) in Minn.

Looks like we'll leave at 11 and drive and drive and drive.

Gene
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Old 08-26-2016, 09:36 PM   #563
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"Famous" people in history named Vlad.

Vladimir Illich Lenin. Russian in origin. Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). Romanian in origin. Yikes!

Good thing you got back on the road quickly.

Enjoy the GRR. Sounds like a great summer trip.

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Old 08-26-2016, 10:06 PM   #564
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And we did drive and drive, 456 miles through sometimes heavy rain, dark skies and the crushing boredom of the interstate life. Bob Seger's greatest hits helped. The hitch weld is fine. We are at a smaller, but nice CG near Henderson, Neb. The Prairie Oasis CG and Cabins looks well kept. Since dusk was upon us when we arrived, we couldn't see all that well. Wifi is good (and it was yesterday too, two days of good wifi is extraordinary).

We were slow this morning as we recuperated, but we got going and drove through some pretty canyons to Golden. The old mining towns of Black Hawk and Central City are even more transformed than I remember into a casino world with canyons. Most of the development has been at Black Hawk since it is the first town most Denverites come to; Central is uphill from it and most people stop at the first places they see. Despite working near there for 2 years, much of the towns that I remember have been changed beyond recognition. These were dying towns when I was there, so maybe this is better.

Once out of the mountains, across the north side of fast growing Denver to the plains—low hills, grass, some corn, cattle and small towns. By the time we are in central Nebraska it is flat, greener as we leave the desert, and more farming and less ranching. While I-76 doesn't have the traffic the major east-west interstates have, I-80 sure does. Lots of large trucks and quite a few smaller commercial ones. We didn't see many RV's on the interstates and we'd rather there was another way to cross states fast, but the interstates get you there.

Davenport is 414 miles. Not sure it is necessary to get that far tomorrow.

Photos:

1. The crack in the hitch head prior to spot welding. It runs vertically to the right of the upper left bolt. This is the one that was deeper, maybe 1/16".

2. Looking down on Central City from the KOA CG.

3. An old mine with tailings all around—the piles of sandy looking stuff are what's left after processing at the mill, the big building in the center. Mills were built on hills to take advantage of gravity as the processing of the ore, partly using water, flowed down without extra machinery and pumps. The tailings are the tail of the process.

4. This was and maybe still is the only commercial structure built over and interstate. It is a "museum" of pioneer things. Some like it, some don't. It is just south of Grand Island, Neb.

Gene
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Old 08-26-2016, 11:04 PM   #565
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene View Post
Writing about the problems is always part of a trip. Helps bring them down to size and dismiss them. It may help some people see how to solve them too. It is part of a story, good and bad.

Gene

Hi, you went through quite a bit, but somehow survived. As you know, I also write about the good, bad, and ugly as it happens.
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Old 08-28-2016, 07:24 PM   #566
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410 miles yesterday, but we made it to Davenport. Some of the trim (extrusion in Airstream parlance) at the bottom of the aluminum body behind the tongue started coming off. I had a tube of the proper glue for that, but it was too old and I couldn't open it, so duct tape came to the rescue. Add to the repair list. The deadbolt is starting to stick again and I thought I have fixed it for a while earlier this summer. I think I'll have to take it apart and grind down the bolt.

Some observations:

1. Nebraska gets flatter as you drive east. Iowa gets hillier as you drive east.

2. I know Iowa is not in the "east", but to someone originally from the "east", Iowa sure looks a lot like the east. Lots of older houses and commercial buildings in styles popular in the early 19th century.

3. Interstate highways are in poor shape everywhere we've been. Part of it is concrete highways with lots of expansion joints that resonate with the truck/trailer combination (worst in Iowa), concrete that causes the tires to whine in varying frequencies and levels of loudness (also bad in Iowa), and the usual poor maintenance in places. Fill sinking on both sides of a bridge after decades of tires pounding on the surface compresses the fill and there's a bump on each side of the bridge.

4. We are not used to humidity. This happens to us anytime we go east (even the northwest isn't so bad). I forgot what it was like to have my clothes stick to me.

5. We've never been this close to the Mississippi since we've been together—mostly we've driven high over it or flown over it. There are areas of algae in the water in places. Is this from farmers using too much fertilizer? The river does not look particularly clean up close.

6. Iowa is so clean the side roads look like they paint them white every night and clean them a few times a day. It must be the color of the gravel and dirt they use in the paving. Iowa seems to be mostly sandstone underneath the topsoil.

We never saw Davenport since the CG and I-80 were on the north side of town. We stayed at one of those CG's (Interstate) were they have rules posted everywhere and a charge for everything. We tried to plan for our first day along the river, but just watched some TV and read simple things. This morning, we left just before the CG police came along to charge us for an extra hour, we drove to the river and started north.

First we stopped at Le Clair, a town that once supplied pilots for riverboats going through rapids just downstream. That must have been a good business, because there are some large and expensive mansions and/or old hotels in that town. But the reason people stop in Le Clair now is American Pickers on the History Channel. We used to watch it, but they were always focusing on signs, bikes and motorcycles. They were always trying to "break the ice". The plot had no suspense anymore. But we went to the store anyway, walking around the town a bit before the shop opened. The two store buildings are surprisingly small. They are on an alley back half a block from US 61. They had a lot of t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats and other tourist trinkets plus some pretty expensive stuff, some maybe over priced. They have a online store of course and have become a large enterprise. None of the people I've seen on TV were there. Tattoos seem to be required of most of the workers.

Having only traversed two miles, we finally started driving north in early afternoon. I had spent a lot of time looking for decent CG's along the way without much success. Barb wants to see a river museum in Dubuque, but finding a CG was more than difficult. The city CG was closed for high water. The county one (or were there two?) lacked phone numbers or any way to contact them. Some of the private ones seemed really low quality. I went through this again while we ate lunch in Clinton. Clinton looks to be an industrial town that once was bigger. Such planes look tired or empty. We found an Italian restaurant that was a typical family place. This type of multi-generational family operated restaurant, often Italian, is common in the east. It felt old and the food tasted fine though not spectacular. Presentation was lacking and the bread was just some bland white bread. But after racing east, it was a nice bit of self indulgence (sort of like pizza the first night out).

While eating my manicotti—well, scraping it off the plate since it had been overzapped, thus burning the enormous quantity of cheese—I kept looking for a CG on RV Park Reviews. Finally we settled on a state park at Bellevue, but it was too late to make a reservation and it seemed all the sites were walk-in. We'd be close to Dubuque and in a nice setting. We got there and the sign said "closed". Now what? Barb started studying Woodalls and maps and everything seemed dark, but she spotted one in Ill. about 12 miles from Dubuque. So we ended across the river in Galena, Ill. at Palace CG. Looks well kept and park like. Checking in required a long list of questions. This one wanted both license plate numbers. We are on a pull thru overlooking large green lawn. Not too level (had to use the legos under the truck wheels). Wifi is pretty good (4 days in a row with decent or better wifi leaves me to think the west is where the bad wifi is; often Tengo is the bad "provider").

Tomorrow we go to the museum in Dubuque. Then north to McGregor, about 80 miles. The Spook Cave CG sounds interesting just because of the name. I can probably avoid the cave ($12/head I think). We'll be near the Indian mounds a few miles away. These mounds are found in various parts of the upper midwest. I've seen pictures, read about them, but never seen them in person. I will also get the wire from the truck that enables me to download photos (I just don't want to go out in the humidity right now).

We're still recovering from our eastward journey, but today was a lot easier. 110 miles is just a Sunday drive.

Gene
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:12 AM   #567
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Commercial traffic increased by 30% + the past twenty years. Suburban sprawl; the price thereof.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:16 AM   #568
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When you go back thru Iowa, try to stop at the Amana Colonies. I spent a day there recently and enjoyed the history and culture of the place. Amazing craftsmanship, especially the wood working shop. Awesome, spacious RV park.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:43 AM   #569
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And if your return route takes you across Nebraska, there is a very nice place in Kearney. Kearney RV park. Get your pizza at the Caseys general store (I.E. Gas station/convenience store). Very nice and clean.

In Kansas if you are heading south on I35 there is a Corps park called Melvern Lake/the Outlet that we like very much. About 90 miles SE of Kansas City metro.
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Old 08-29-2016, 06:00 PM   #570
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We are now at Spook Cave CG near McGregor, Iowa. How could we not stop at a place called "Spook Cave"? There is a cave here, but it costs extra and we just want to relax. This looks like a nice CG tucked into a valley in the Driftless Area. That means it wasn't glaciated and retained the natural topography it had a long, long time ago. There are no glacial "drifts" deposited—rocks and dirt upon top of the area. Thus, "driftless". It is quite hilly around here with high bluffs along the river.

The river towns vary in size and wealth. Some of the ones best able to capitalize on the river have quite large and expensive old houses and commercial buildings, but others are kind of plain and buildings are smaller. We actually have not followed the river much of the time as the highways are not close to it in many places. I think they were starting to settle this area in the early 19th century, but they built houses that look like earlier Georgian period. Since we no longer were under King George's rule after the late 18th century, Georgian styles were not favored in the east, but seem to have been so traditional that they were reproduced here. We also saw some wonderfully ugly Victorian buildings that appeared to be courthouses or other government buildings.

Today we went to the river museum in Dubuque. It is interesting, though I didn't think it told the story of the river quite as clearly as it could. Still a lot of interesting stuff plus some river boats on display. They were working boats rather than the kind we hear about with shows, wealthy travelers and card sharks. The museum has all sorts of extras at extra fees—2 "4D" movies, dinosaurs and other stuff. We just did the river museum.

I wish all museum restaurants were high quality, but this one, more a cafeteria, provided us with a light lunch and we left by mid afternoon. Dubuque is an older city that looks to have industry and the river as its economic base. Quite a few large and old buildings. Like a lot of towns, there is a lower part originally dependent on the river and probably flooded by it periodically. The main business district is typically the lower town. Then a bluff back several blocks where the mansions are safe from high water.

We continued north on one of the river road options, US 52. Mostly inland across the sometimes wooded, but often farmed hills. At Guttenberg we rejoined the river. There is dam and a lock there. The dam was open today to let the high waters from much rain up north recently flow through. The water turbulence would make it hard for a boat to make it through under the large gates in the dam, so they go through the lock. The town itself has a many block long park along much of the river, an unusual benefit since most towns have old commercial buildings, docks and marinas making it hard to enjoy the river quietly.

After stopping at Guttenberg, the highway moves away from the river again and we followed highlands with more corn and soybeans plus some forests. Always thinking of the Great Plains as flat and endless, this country is quite different.

It has rained a little here and the ground is very wet. We are parked on grass and the tires have not done the grass any favors. The humidity was even higher today and storms are coming this way. I hope they clear the air. Photos later.

Gene
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:42 PM   #571
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Photos:

1. The back of houses and stores on the highway in Le Claire, Iowa. Then comes the railroad, always present along the river, and some parkland along the river.

2. And panning to the right, more grass, a river boat and the Mississippi.

3. A paddlewheel in front of a museum in Le Claire.

4. A mix of architectural styles it seems more Georgian, but the roof is French. Now occupied by the Blue Iguana restaurant, perhaps named after "Dancing at the Blue Iguana", a movie about a strip club with Darryl Hanna and Sandra Oh.

Gene
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Old 08-29-2016, 08:55 PM   #572
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More photos:

1. A cardinal shows up at the American Pickers' store (Antique Archeology) in Le Claire, Iowa.

2. One of two buildings at the store.

3. Most of a pink bike with very modern sheet metal.

4. This item (only $1,600) once was at the top of a gas pump. I have seen pictures of this somewhere, but never a real one.

More tomorrow….

Gene
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Old 08-29-2016, 09:28 PM   #573
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Gene we were just enjoying their show (pickers) and they had just set the car back in place after improving the driveway. Nice pictures.
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:13 PM   #574
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Hitten', the car is either a Hudson (probably) or a Nash, I forgot which. The model is "Statesman". I thought they were pretty ugly back in the 1940's but I appreciate them more now.

Today was even more humid. We went to Effigy Mounds NM and hiked through an oak forest to see the mounds. Some are shaped like animals and some are round in rows. They have cut the grass around them so you can identify the mounds which are several feet high. There are also some great views of the Mississippi from at least 400' above the river. We hiked two miles in the the heat and humidity and felt like our clothes weighed twice as much—they were so damp, they probably did. Nevertheless, seeing these structures built hundreds and some over a thousand years ago was fascinating.

We continued up the river, more in touch with it today. The backwaters are filled with algae and what looks like an invasive weed growing on the water. The main channels of the river have patches of algae and look murky. The river does not look healthy. But it was worse when raw sewage was poured into the river before federal regulations and grants cleaned up some of it.

After buying some food in Lansing, Iowa, we crossed into Minnesota. The bouncy and sometimes whining highways of Iowa behind us, we moved faster along the river, sometimes on a 4 lane. Less river, but we do need to move along. We made it to Red Wing, home of work shoes, and are camped in a casino CG. Full hookups and a clean parking lot. We continue our string of consecutive good wifi. And it has cooled—clear skies, lower temps and a lot less humidity.

Tomorrow we take faster roads including some interstates to get around the Twin Cities, stay close to the river and get to the north. We've been having too much fun and we need to move along. The river road really deserves a lot more time.

We've crossed the Mississippi many times, but driving along it is a completely different experience. It is more a living thing with real people living along it. Where we have been the past two days is not the enormously wide river in the south, but still a big, though naturally shallow river, up north. Here there are lots of islands, some lakes which are wide spots in the river, real lakes which are cut off river meanders and some very wide "pools"probably created by the feds to try to control the river.

Photos:

1. Spacious camping at the Palace CG in Galena, Ill. Indians mined lead here before white men did. White men named it Galena, i.e., lead.

2. A river dredge at the river museum in Dubuque. The feds have dredged a shallow river for generations to promote commerce.

3. Downtown Dubuque. The hotel is named after the founder, Julienne Dubuque.

4. Downtown Guttenberg with old buildings across from the river front park and the railroad.

I keep getting the 'page cannot be retrieved" but the back button restores it, but I wonder what's going on.

Gene
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