Monday, October 5, 2015

Mississippi River trip continued

A final posting about our delightful trip along the Mississippi River.

Wednesday morning we left Dubuque and traveled to Dickeyville.  On our bus ride back to the hotel
Tuesday night, we had gone through and we got a brief glimpse of the Grotto by the Catholic Church there.  We decided to head back there and spend a bit of time looking at this project from the 1930s, done by the priest and some of his parishioners. My photos did not turn out that well, but here is one.  Lots of glass shards, rocks, pottery and such arranged in the cement.

Our intent was to stop in Cassville for breakfast after leaving Dickeyville and traveling through Potosi (too early to visit the brewery there) Then we planned to travel up Highway 35 which mostly follows the river.  Well, we found NO place to eat in Cassville.  On second examination, we noticed a sign on a tavern saying they had great food and served breakfast.
We parked, went inside, and found an empty place. No one was there, not even someone behind the bar/grill.  We stayed a minute or so, but no one showed up, so we left.  After looking at the map, we decided to head off 35 and travel to Bloomington about 15 miles away.  

After asking at the gas station whether there was a place to eat, we arrived at Ma's Bakery, a very unassuming spot on the main street.  As soon as we opened the door, we knew we had found a winner.  It was 10 o'clock but the place was still hopping with people you could tell were regulars.  Our waitress laughed when we asked if there were menus, saying, "What do you want? We make eggs, omelets, pancakes, french toast, and today we have a skillet with hashbrowns, ham, sausage, bacon, and eggs.  Well, you know what we got, don't you?  It was delicious and the homemade raisin toast was even better.   When I went to use the little girl's room, I passed two tables totally filled with special orders -- angel food cakes, buns, birthday cakes.  And while we ate, the phone rang and rang.
This place is busy, busy!  And the lunch items sounded so good, I was tempted to stay right there and eat lunch in a couple hours!

But I didn't.  We backtracked to Cassville, so we could visit the Agricultural Museum that is across from Nelson Dewey State Park.  We had visited this museum once before, probably when we camped at Wyalusing when Clint was 1 year old.  That is A WHILE AGO!!  Most of the museum visit is self-guided, but there was a tour guide for the farm house, the general store, and Governor Dewey's house. She was very entertaining and enthusiastic.   Wisconsin has some great sites maintained by the State Historical Society and this is one of them, but it is obvious that more money could be used.  There were many things at the site that should be repainted or repaired.  I hope that things don't go too far downhill.  By the time we had viewed everything that we wanted to, the afternoon was slipping away, so we took the most direct route to Prairie du Chien, bypassing Wyalusing State Park where we have camped twice.  We were also motivated by my desire to visit a quilt shop in Prairie du Chien.  A quick trip to Dairy Queen and Russ was content to let me spend as long as I wanted in the shop.
I did not purchase much, but I always like to visit quilt shops as each one is so different.  

As we traveled along Highway 35 through Lynxville, Ferryville, DeSota, Victory, Genoa, and Stoddard, we listened to an audio that I had downloaded from Great River Road website.  A brief history is given of each town and sometimes local people share memories.  We made it to LaCrosse/Onalaska during the afternoon rush hour.  We had to leave highway 35 to find a hotel.
Both of us were ready to crash when we did finally find one.

Thursday was our final day, and it was mainly a day of driving.  Holmen, Trempaleau, Fountain City, Cochrane, Buffalo City, Alma, Nelson, and Pepin.  We drove through both Perrot and Merrick State Parks. At Cochrane we stopped to see some concrete/stone art done by Herman Rusch, a self taught folk artist.  His work has been preserved by the Kohler foundation.  We stopped in Nelson at the Nelson Creamery for a tasty lunch.  It is no longer a creamery but is a destination for ice cream, lunch, and wine.  There is also a shop there selling specialty cheeses, and I found Salemville Bleu in the case.  We continued to listen to the audio stories of each town and heard a detailed account of the Armistice storm of 1940 which trapped many duck hunters on the Mississippi.  We had heard of this storm before and actually talked with my dad about it.  I believe he and my uncle (maybe two uncles) were duck hunting on the Koshkonong River that same day but were able to make it home before being frozen in.  I know they got very, very cold and miserable very quickly.  I wonder if that had anything to do with him quitting hunting.  We made a quick stop in Alma at a small quilt shop in a former hotel.  I like to see old buildings being saved and given life again.  We ended our river section of the trip by going to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin and also to the replica of the family cabin.  At the museum, I met a delightful lady from Lubbock, TX who was traveling to various sites on the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail.  Obviously, she was a really big fan of the author.  

I did most of the river road driving on Thursday and then I drove to Osseo.  Naturally, we had to stop for pie in Osseo. Pie makes a great supper doesn't it?  Then Russ took over driving, who got us home before dark.  Great four days, but like after every trip, home is the best place to be.  But I know I will soon be scouring over maps and the internet looking for more sites in Wisconsin that we haven't seen yet.  Anybody have any suggestions?

Outside the Laura Ingalls Wilder cabin

Russ reading a historical marker at Trempealeau

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