I was up with the sun this morning and made coffee and checked the weather first thing. This is a ritual carried over from our boating days. Carol headed off for the shower and I tidied up and started in on breakfast. After breakfast we made a quick exit saying good-bye to our first camp, in Pikes Peak State Park, Iowa. This was our first time hooking up the trailer so we double checked everything, and did the brake light, turn signal check and double checked the area to make sure that nothing was left behind and that the campsite was cleaner than when we arrived. Carol had found some good stops along the way that looked interesting so off we went in search of interesting stuff.
We pulled away with confidence, and apparently did everything right as the trailer stayed attached. We made our way south along the Mississippi and stopped in Gutenberg, Iowa. Gutenberg is a quaint little river town situated right on the banks of the Mississippi with a lock and dam right off the main street, River Park Drive. The High School is also on the main street which we both thought was a bit unusual. We walked over and watched a towboat lock through and re-attach her tow, which consisted of 9 barges. At a small market, souvenir store, wine store, coffee shop kind of store we picked up a few things. The ladies working there were very friendly and helpful and were inquisitive about where we had come from. We had parked along the riverside park where there was plenty of parking, and in a place where I did not have to back up. I am still a bit scared to back up with the trailer, so this worked out very well.
Iowa turned out to be a beautiful state as we traveled the back roads. Nice rolling hills with little traffic. After a while we were rolling into Fort Madison, Iowa and crossed over into Illinois on the Fort Madison Swing Bridge. This is the largest double decker swing bridge in the world.
The upper level is for automobile traffic and the lower lever is a railroad track. It took us by surprise by how narrow it is and the darned thing is crooked and has a toll booth about a third of the way across. A nice young lady took our three dollars and we were on our way to the Illinois side of the Mississippi. From what I have read, river traffic has the right of way and the bridge opens about 5 times a day on average, and each opening takes 20 minutes or more - I am glad we caught while it was open to auto traffic. As we entered Illinois we were about 10 miles north of our destination of Nauvoo, and the state park there. Nauvoo is an important town in the Mormon history, this is where Joseph Smith was killed after they escaped from Missouri. Today Nauvoo is predominately Catholic.
We set up the camper, takes about 5 minutes or so, and went off to explore the town of Nauvoo. We visited the temple, and drove along the river where there is a reconstructed village of the Mormon days. A short distance up the hill we found a bakery and bought some locally made bread. Earlier we had visited the Baxter Vineyard which was established back in 1857, Carol got a nice bottle of wine and I got a sample of the local bakers bread. Back at the campsite we had a great breeze moving through and very few bugs.
After a great supper of brats and corn on the cob, we sat chatting and enjoying a glass of wine when our neighbor for the night stopped by. Our little Vistabule sure attracts attention. But this guy, Eric from Idaho, was a talker. Now I have been told that I am quite accomplished in the talking arena but Eric was a real pro. Within a few minutes we knew his whole history. He and his family, wife, two daughters and Mom were all traveling in their Class A RV on a church history tour. Then he called over the entire family, told his youngest daughter, India, 'Go get your sketchbook honey' and so I had to be kind and say it was all lovely . . . Eric left and his wife (who's name I don't remember), stayed and talked at us for the next hour - non stop, about anything and everything. I learned a lot about irrigation in Idaho. Finally around 11 pm after much yawning and ho-humming from Carol and I, she finally left. We have had a good laugh about this evening several times since. After a good nights sleep, a good breakfast and some rearranging of a few things we were back on the road and heading toward my brother Dan's house. Gas mileage through Iowa and Illinois averaged 24 MPG on out Outback, very pleased with that.