GALAVANTING OFF TO GALENA

It’s the busiest time of year for Cooked Glass Creations, so the long delay since my last post was due to Bruce and I galavanting off to craft shows here, there, and everywhere!

A short break from the action (while Bruce builds his stock back up) allows me to squeeze in another post:

The American Queen paddled us down the Missississippi River from La Crosse to Dubuque, Iowa, our next port on the journey.  Having visited the area during a previous trip with my best friend, Laura, her step-brother, and his wife; I had a plan:  Rent a car and visit Galena, where the four of us had thoroughly enjoyed our day.

The shore excursion office offered a premium excursion to Galena; however, after some quick research and calculations, I figured it was a LOT less expensive (and more fun!) to rent a car for a few hours from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and go on our own.

We asked our table mates if they wanted to join us, so after a quick look at Dubuque aboard the hop-on-hop-off bus (included with the cruise), a friendly Enterprise rep. picked the four of us up and took us back to the office to sign the paperwork.  (The rep. who brought us back was also friendly and a fun guy to chat with during the drive back to the boat.  I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Enterprise folks, so I concur with Consumer Reports and recommend them for your car rental needs!)

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This shot was snapped through the bus window in Dubuque.

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Another shot through the bus window of an interesting mural.

Galena, Illinois, located across the Mississippi from Dubuque, was a pleasant 25-minute drive, and well worth the visit.  Bruce, Jacque, and Rick enjoyed strolling through the historic district as much as I thought they would, and it was nice to visit the quaint town (population less than 3,500), once again.

Unfortunately, it was a gloomy day, so my photos aren’t nearly as nice as the ones I posted in my first blog about Galena.

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Now, somebody up there has an interesting sense of humor!  I wonder how many tourists look up and wonder about THAT!

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We enjoyed a tasty “flight” of root beer here:

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Our boat, back in Dubuque

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Jacque and Rick seemed to enjoy the calliope concert during the sail-away as much as we did!

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Goodbye, Dubuque!

Next stop on the cruise:  QUAD CITIES

 

 

Gorgeous Galena

I woke up this morning feeling great; no soreness at all from yesterday’s 2,000 yard butterfly.  But, I truly am a Butternut; I am watching the Women’s 100 meter butterfly preliminary heats of the Olympic Trials, on live streaming, split screen, while I am writing this post.

Our arrival day in Crystal Lake was a relaxing and enjoyable one.  After a wonderful lunch in downtown Crystal Lake and a stop at Trader Joe’s (love, love, LOVE!), so Laura could shop for dinner groceries, I got in a much-needed and much-craved-for swim workout.  Jeannie had recently treated Wayne to a membership at an amazing fitness club (http://www.healthbridgefitness.com) and got me in on a guest pass.  I should have brought my camera; this place was phenomenal!

Laura, a gourmet cook, treated us that evening to one of Wayne’s favorites:  Spaghetti and meatballs.  It was Father’s Day, after all!

The following day, we were off to Galena (www.galena.org ).  Laura had told me what a gorgeous and charming place Galena was.  I figured it had to be, to warrant 2 ½ hours of driving each way.  Wayne likes to drive; especially his new Ford Fusion Hybrid.  But, this place must be outstanding to make that kind of drive for a DAY TRIP worthwhile.  It was.

Galena was love at first sight.  Actually, I was already in love before we got there, because the drive through the countryside was so beautiful; much like New Zealand.  It was so green, and, as we drove further north, there were rolling hills dotted with farms that included those classic red barns you see in coffee table books and wall calendars.

Having never been to the Midwest (I had visited 21 states; mostly around the coasts and southern border, but nowhere in the Midwest), I only had a preconceived image in my mind of what the perfect Midwestern town would look like.  This was it.  Check out this photo on the cover of “The Galenian”:  http://galenianonline.com/main.asp?sectionid=2&subsectionid=31 . I could easily imagine spending a month there with Bruce (during the best weather, of course) staying in a rented cottage and spending our days kayaking on the river or exploring the surrounding areas.

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Spending the day in Galena was fabulous, though.  After a delightful lunch at Golden Hen Café (http://www.goldenhencafe.com ), we browsed the shops lining the main street of downtown.  Laura and I both splurged at Galena Garlic Company (www.galenagarlic.com), falling in love with their incredible aged balsamics.  We each ordered bottles to be shipped to our home; I couldn’t resist the Wild Blueberry Balsamic, Mango Balsamic, and Cinnamon Pear Balsamic.  These flavors, as well as about 25 others were available for tasting and we tasted many of them- straight.  Honestly, these were good enough to sip straight!  It was almost impossible to resist so many of the other flavors; coconut being one of them.  Maybe next time…

(Look at the above photo carefully…  What’s wrong with this picture???)

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Our plan was to have dinner at One Eleven Main (http://www.oneelevenmain.com) , but we had plenty of time to enjoy before then.  So, Wayne took us to the West Street Sculpture Park (www.weststreetsculpturepark.com) ; an interesting collection of found object sculptures created by John Martinson.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves…

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Questioning Wayne about the location of Galena, in relation to Wisconsin and Iowa, led to something I never expected; a drive to state #23 on my list:  Iowa!  It was just a 20 minute drive away to see the northernmost section of the Mississippi and Iowa, so off we went!  We drove through more beautiful countryside, before continuing by bridge over the Mississippi River into Dubuque, Iowa.  Just over the bridge, a short drive, was Riverwalk; a beautifully landscaped coastal sidewalk along the river.  There was even a small beach I could walk down to, so I could stick my finger in the Mississippi River water.  I was in Iowa and the Mississippi River!  (Well, sort of; they didn’t allow swimming or wading…)

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We returned to downtown Galena to enjoy a delicious dinner at One Eleven Main.  I chose the totally decadent dish of Gnocchi with spinach, onions, mushrooms (extra; hold the bacon), cream, and Romano.  Delicious and definitely decadent!

The drive back to Crystal Lake, during the golden light of sunset, could not have been more beautiful.

The farms I had enjoyed on the drive in now took on a golden hue and they just sparkled.  And, to our surprise and delight, after it got dark, something else sparkled (or sparked!), as well:  Fireflies!

I had only seen one firefly before; out on our community golf course, after picking wild blackberries.  (Shhhh, don’t tell anybody; we weren’t supposed to be out there!)  And, let me tell you what a delight that was!

Being a Southern California girl, I had never seen real fireflies before.  My only exposure to “fireflies” was the fake ones at Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  And, honestly, I thought those were fakes, as in, FAKE.  Yes, of course they were fake, but I thought the entire idea of fireflies lighting up like that was fake!  I didn’t think they did that!

So, our visit to Crystal Lake and Galena ended in the most spectacular way; driving by fields of fireflies putting on a show for us.  It was the perfect end to a wonderful visit; just like the fireworks show that concluded our visit to Chicago.  And, the flight home was no less beautiful…

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P.S.  Thank you for joining me on this journey; I have appreciated your kind comments!  If you would like to see more photos from this trip, view the last album at:  www.ExquisiteCards.Fototime.com

Until November, I will be staying fairly close to home; just a short trip to Greenville, SC, to swim in the USMS Dixie Zone Championships.  But, don’t be surprised if I pop in now and again with posts on past travels that have yet to appear in my blog!