USA Radio
April 26, 2014

Zip Lining in Iowa


Continuing our journey along Great River Road, we arrived in our third state, Iowa. Our first stop today was Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, a beautiful and sprawling collection of over 60 different gardens. Our guide was Jake, a volunteer who has been working with the arboretum for 15 years. He walked us through the lovely grounds, and pointed out the many different and beautiful plant species. They also hold a concert series every Sunday throughout summer. Too bad we missed it!

Next we drove over the hill to the Sky Tours zipline trail at the YMCA, where we got to zip through the beautiful landscape. Of course we all looked fabulous in our harnesses – sarcasm, friends! We began on the shortest line and worked our way up to the longest one. It was so much fun and as close to flying as we think we’ll get!

Then we drove to Balltown for an early lunch. We chose Breitbach’s Country Dining and opted for the buffet featuring fried chicken, fried shrimp, veggies and biscuits. It was heaven. We topped off the meal by sharing a piece of apple pie with ice cream. Some of the best food we’ve had so far!

After lunch we made our way to Fenelon Place Elevator, the shortest and steepest scenic railroad in the USA. We got a few round-trip tickets and took a ride. We tried not to panic and failed. It was nerve-racking but super fun.

On the road again we drove through the sprawling cornfields of Iowa. Eventually we made our way to the World’s Largest Truck Stop, Iowa 80. It was huge! It even had a dentist and public laundry. We stopped in their Trucking Museum to see an immense collection of trucks. They were big, too.

Later we cruised down the main street in LeClaire, commenting on how sweet the town was with blooming flowers and cute shops all along the road. We stopped at the Mississippi River Distilling Company for a tour and a tasting. We learned how they process their alcohol and what makes their gin different (less juniper). The gin and the honey whiskey tasted incredible.

We walked down the street to dinner at the Faithful Pilot Cafe. It’s a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant with magnificent views of the river. Everything we ate was delicious, and we declared it our best meal yet. As a bonus, they had crayons to draw on our tablecloth, which we found surprising for an upscale place but lots of fun.

To close out the day, we drove to our hotel in Davenport, the Hotel Blackhawk. Originally built in the early 1900s, this historic hotel was recently restored to include—to our pleasure—a martini bar and bowling alley in the basement. It didn’t take us long to check that out! We played the jukebox, danced, sang along and bowled the night away. Couldn’t ask for a better end to the evening.

Iowa was great and packed full of fun, but next we head into Missouri. See you tomorrow!

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