At about 8:15 AM this morning, Marcia and I drove across the US-20 bridge from Jo Daviess County, Illinois, into Dubuque, Iowa. This marked our final re-entry burn into Iowa, after more trips out of and back into the Hawkeye State since 2011 than we could begin to count. We then worked our way down to Interstate-80 in Iowa City, and drove west to Des Moines, the last time we’ll drive that highway as well, again having done so more times than we could count, or enjoy.

We had spent the long weekend in the Driftless Area, situated around the point where Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois meet along the mighty Mississippi River. The name doesn’t mean that the area, its inhabitants, and us while we were there existed in a state with neither aim nor direction, but rather refers to the fact that the region is free of glacial drift, and seems not to have been covered by the Pleistocene ice. It’s geologically unique in the Upper Midwest accordingly, and is a spectacularly beautiful part of the country. We’ve traveled through it a bit over the years, and it seemed an apt place to make our final Iowa road trip, at the peak of autumn color, of which we don’t expect to see much once we drive off to Arizona next week.

We stayed in Galena, Illinois, a lovely little tourist town with some deep history of national import, most especially having been Ulysses S. Grant’s home through his post-Civil War career. We also drove up to Effigy Mounds National Monument, which is one of the most historically and visually stunning locales in all of Iowa. While there, we hiked up to the famed Hanging Rock (no picnic, alas) to bask in the extraordinary views of the Mississippi River valley in its gaudy autumnal attire. Very nice, all around. Recommended if you find yourself in that out of the way part of the country.

I snapped away as I always do, so if you’d like to see some of the color and scenes, click the happy couple selfie below (taken at Hanging Rock) to see the full photo album. The next one I post will likely look much, much different!

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