Day 233 – Illinois Northwest (Part 2)

Day 233 – Illinois Northwest, August 6, 2011

We started out the day trying to find Charles Mound, the
highest point in Illinois measuring 1,235 feet tall.  We were unsuccessful, but continued through
the maze of cornfields to Apple River Canyon State Park where we took a mile
walk through the hardwood forest.  While
the wildflower lined trail was shaded by trees, I think I would have rather
walked along the river that flowed nearby.
Our stroll just about did Petey in, so we hopped back in VANilla and
turned south toward Mississippi Palisades State Park.

The park offers a variety of overlooks as well as
trails.  We made a few stops at the
overlooks and tried spotting bald eagles, but it was the wrong time of
year.  I think we spotted a few turkey
vultures instead.  A sign by the overlook
provided interesting facts on bald eagles.
The birds that weigh between seven to fifteen pounds and have wing spans
over six and half feet long are only native to North America.  Their name comes from the old English word
“balde” meaning white-headed.  It takes
juveniles which are brown four to five years to attain adult coloration.  Finally, they can see five to six times
better than humans.  I had hoped to pick
up a cache here, as Illinois alluded me during my first visit last September.  My cell reception has proved to be spotty,
and this spot didn’t work!

We continued along the Mississippi River passing through
small towns and by Lock and Dam No. 13 before making a brief visit to Thomson
Causeway Recreation Area which turned out to be closed to day use.  The water here along with places on the
Mississippi River over the last few days was blanketed in a bright green
film.  Given the heat and humidity, I’m
not sure what we would have done here anyway (except look for a cache which again
alluded me), so we moved further south where we reached Albany.

Albany was home to a drag racing facility and also had a
town festival in the works.  Several
streets around the town were closed as car aficionados hung out pampering the
old priceless vehicles.  We found one
street that took us to Albany Mounds, a historic Indian location where I
finally found a cache.  Little did I know
I was going to have to bushwhack to get to it.
I came back onto the bicycle trail with twigs in my hair, a few
scratches on my arms, and at least a handful of mosquito bites, but now I am
able to mark Illinois off my list.

We left Illinois and drove several hours to St. Charles,
Missouri for the evening.  I must say I
don’t think I enjoyed the Illinois scenic drive in September nor did I find
this one too exciting with the exception of Galena.  I would definitely return for a quick weekend
there.  ETB,


Day 232 – Great River Road and Illinois Northwest

Day 232 – Great River Road and Illinois Northwest, August 5, 2011

We started out the day at Pikes Peak State Park where we
walked to yet another overlook of the Mississippi.  This overlook also happened to be an earth
cache, so I check marked Iowa off the list presuming the creator of the cache
takes my answers.  All the answers but
one were on the associated signs; however, I am also to look at the bend and
valley depth to determine the speed of the current here.  Anyone want to look at the picture and take a
guess?  That’s what I’m doing!

From Pikes Peak State Park we followed the river south to
Dubuque, Iowa.  What an interesting,
historic town.  We first visited the Fenelon
Place Elevator, the world’s steepest, shortest scenic railway that transports
passengers 296 feet in length and elevates them 189 feet from Fourth Street to
Fenelon Place.

The cable car was originally built in 1882 by J.K. Graves
when Dubuque was an hour and a half town, meaning businesses closed at noon for
an hour and a half while everyone went home for dinner.  Mr. Graves, a former mayor and former State
Senator, lived atop the bluff and worked as a banker at the bottom.  Despite his home being only two and half
blocks away from his business, it took his horse and buggy thirty minutes to round
the bluff to his home and thirty minutes to return to the bank which only left
him thirty minutes for dinner.  He
preferred thirty minutes for dinner and thirty minutes for a nap so he
petitioned the city for the right to build the Swiss-style, one-car cable.

Graves hired John Bell, a local engineer to design what
would be a plain wood building that housed a coal-fired steam engine boiler and
winch and a wooden car which was hauled up and down on two rails by a hemp
rope.  Upon completion, Graves had his
gardener raise and lower him.  Soon his
neighbors hitched rides.  Approximately
two years into operation, the elevator burned from the fire that was banked in
the stove for the night.

Mr. Graves rebuilt the elevator, but this time opened it to
the public for the cost of five cents.
The elevator again burned in 1893, only due to the recession, Mr. Graves
could not afford to rebuild it.
Neighbors had come to rely on the elevator to get them to school, work,
church and the market, so ten of them banded together to form the Fenelon Place
Elevator Company.  Graves gave them the
franchise in exchange for the right of way for the track.   The group traveled to the 1893 Columbian
Exposition in Chicago to look for new ideas.
They returned with a street car motor, a turnstile, and a steel
cable.  They installed additional rails
to allow for the operation of two counterbalanced cars.

By 1912, C.B. Trewin, who had built the house next door, had
become the sole stockholder as he had purchased the shares from the original
ten investors as they passed or moved away. He made additional improvements,
including adding a room for men to play cards without the wives
interfering.  In 1962, the house burned
down, yet again, this time due to an electrical fire.  With the next rebuild, the price went up to
ten cents.

In 1977, the original gear drive was replaced by a modern
gear box with a DC motor.  The
elevator was featured in the movie F.I.S.T. as well. I personally liked the elf exit.  And finally, now the
roundtrip price is two dollars!  I paid the two dollar fare to take Petey to
the downtown area where we walked around several Monument Square, passed the
Dubuque Museum of Art with a giant statue of a farmer and wife outside, listened to a band play Simon and Garfunkel, passed by a
parking garage where a cache was hidden on the top floor (I was on the bottom L), and through
Cathedral Square before returning to our ride to the top of the bluff.

Since Petey hadn’t been feeling the greatest the last few
days, I took advantage of the big city and found a vet.  Normally I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the
middle of the day waiting on a pet doctor, but frankly the air conditioning was
welcoming for both Petey and me.  I was
inclined to say take as long as you want!
As suspected, Petey has another urinary tract infection.

After our time at the vet, we went in search of a cache.  I wanted to be sure I found one regular one
from Iowa in case my earth cache answers were incorrect.  This proved slightly challenging as I had
been trying most the day.  I was very
surprised that there wasn’t a micro cache at the cable car.  There was a muggle in Cathedral Square and
the last few logs claimed a wasps’ nest was in the area, so I skipped that one
as well as the one on the top floor of the parking garage.  I drove from the vet to a neighborhood park
and was greeted by a greasy, long-haired guy from a neighboring apartment complex that
looked like the motorcycle type: shirtless, a beer in hand, and few chains
hanging on his jeans.  While he may have
been as nice as can be, I promptly returned to VANilla as a father and son went
to the playground.  As such, the guy rejoined
his friends around the corner.  I finally
found one a mile or so away.  It was a magnetic
switch plate in plain sight.  I was very
thankful to have one like this with clients in Mississippi a year or so ago as
I noticed it immediately.  In Mississippi
it took four of us a while to find it!

In the late afternoon we finally left Dubuque and ended in
Galena for the evening.  What a pleasant
surprise!  Galena (Latin for lead) was “a
19th-century boomtown beautifully preserved as a living museum”.  The town sits above the Galena River, a Mississippi
tributary that once carried ore to market.
The bustling port died with the railroad.  Now, the charming town caters to
tourists.  Main Street is lined with
coffee houses, wineries, book stores, antique stores, galleries, canneries,
restaurants and the like.  In addition,
the Dowling House (the oldest in Illinois) and the Galena History Museum are
just a block off Main.  I strolled around
town and stopped in a few stores.  One
cannery was full of hot sauces…my personal favorite was “Pick This”.  The bottle came with a rubber nose complete
with boogers hanging from it.

I tried to go to a winery for dinner, but ended up at Boone’s
Place which was above the wine shop and not affiliated.  Oh well, the portabella mushroom sandwich and
beer was tasty!  ETB,

Pounds Hollow Recreation Area, Shawnee National Forest

Day 8 – Sights in the Shawnee National Forest


Cave in Rock State Park

We left late today…decided to finish posting while I had internet.  Our first stop was in the same park where we camped, Cave-in-Rock State Park.  Does anyone want to take a guess at what we saw?  Yes, it was a cave – 160 feet deep in a limestone bluff.  I was afraid I might miss it as there were stairs everywhere, but obviously that would have been hard to do once I saw its large size.  The cave was once a hideout for river pirates after the Revolutionary War.  They would lure pioneers into the cave and take their possessions and sometimes their lives.  Fortunately now, it’s just a tour attraction.  Continue reading “Day 8 – Sights in the Shawnee National Forest”

Thebes Courthouse

Day 7 – Sights along Shawnee Hills Scenic Byway


I’ve made it a week on my adventure…and I have to say it has been pretty smooth so far, except for Scout.  I’ll have to see how she is today.  For some reason, I get the feeling she’ll only get to enjoy the journey for a week.  At least that is better than sitting in the backyard in the Texas heat while I’m at work.

Due to the new experience of a private campground and the trains that cross the river (about four an hour), I didn’t get much sleep last night, but I did get to see the moon shining on the Mississippi at 3:30 in the morning, and it was phenomenal.  Despite the lack of sleep, I’d still recommend Thebes Landing RV Park & Campground to anyone.  Neal is going to bring in a barge and add a bar to it.  He said the Corp of Engineers denied his permit three times, but consistency paid off.  The guys in the St. Louis office decided to hand deliver the permit instead of mailing it because they just wanted to meet him.  Continue reading “Day 7 – Sights along Shawnee Hills Scenic Byway”