On to Belle Plaine where they have a large history museum with a section on the Lincoln Highway. They were closed, but the art on the side of the building was worth the stop.
And this mural was across the street! There was a farmers market nearby starting in 10 minutes. It was getting late and we had to setup camp that night, so I really didn't want to wait. But there were some delicious looking kolaches at the first table. We tried to talk them into selling before the bell rang, but she couldn't be convinced. By the time we were done discussing if we should wait or not, it was almost time to open. So we waited and bought what we thought would be our breakfast (more on that later).
We made it to Coralville Lake near Iowa City. We were tired, it had been a long day. We setup camp and then rode to find some food. We found a Subway and took it back to camp. It was dark by the time we pulled in.
The next morning we woke up to find our kolaches WERE GONE. Some four legged critters had helped themselves to them. My friend Mike was sleeping in a hammock tent, he had heard them digging through our stuff and was afraid they were going to come over and attack him through the bottom of his hanging tent, ha ha.
We rode to Mt. Vernon for breakfast. It was a popular place and took almost an hour to get our food. Mt. Vernon is home to Cornell College, which was founded in 1843. The entire campus is on the national register of historic places.
We left Mt. Vernon heading North and rode to Maquoketa Caves State Park. There are many caves in this park. We didn't have a lot of time but we went through the biggest one, called Ballroom Cave. We followed it until it got smaller and smaller, until we were walking hunched over for quite a ways. Then it opened up again, then up many steps, until we were on the other side of the roadway! We had crossed underneath the main road that cuts through the park.
Later that day we made an unscheduled stop at a hardware store in Dubuque so my Dad could preform helmet surgery. One of the screws in his flipup helmet had worked loose, leaving it unsafe. The ride in on highway 151, descending towards the water was beautiful.
After Dubuque we rode to Balltown, IA for lunch at Breitbach's Country Dining
. This is the oldest bar in Iowa, although it has burned down two times now. It's huge and the food is great.
Heading out of Balltown towards the West, there is a scenic overlook. Pictures can't describe. I said to myself many times on this trip "This is so beautiful!". The rolling country side, small farms, lush green valleys. Eastern Iowa is great riding.
Heading back to the campground later that day, we were looking for a park or someplace to take a break. I saw something that looked like it might work and pulled in. Turns out this is the school house where Grant Wood attended. Grant Wood is the painter of that famous painting with the old couple and the pitchfork, "American Gothic".
We made a quick stop in Mt. Vernon as we passed through again, I knew there was a beautiful park and a Lincoln Highway marker here somewhere.
Back at the campground, we decided to check out the fossil bed nearby. It was discovered when a flood washed out a lot of the campground back in the 90's.
I had never seen fossils like this, it was really cool! My Dad started collecting some to bring back until I pointed out the sign mentioning a $5000 fine for taking any.
We made it back to the camp ground, decompressed for a bit then decided to ride to get supper. I had heard of a kinda-famous place not too far away called the Sutliff Bridge and Tavern
, located near a historic old bridge. Well the GPS couldn't find it, and neither could Google maps. But I had seen a sign for it earlier that day, so we headed north on Highway 1 out of the campground, and watched for the sign. I finally spotted a small street sign that pointed to Sutliff road. It was a small sign so by the time I could read it I was past the turn. We turned around and started following Sutliff road. This was a thin slice of asphalt, in fact it didn't even really feel like asphalt in some places, more like glued together crushed rock. About this time we were starting to loose our light. So we slowed down. We were all tired and hungry at this point, and starting to get a little cranky. I heard over the radio "I'll be very surprised if this actually leads anywhere...". About 10 minutes later we passed some motorcycles going the other direction, and my spirits lifted. Finally we connected to a larger highway, which went right to Sutliff. That
was the road I was trying to find, not this little tiny road that was probably the way there 60 years ago!
It was an awesome place and the bridge was neat.
You could tell it was a place where people from all over the area come to hang out. BTW the reason Garmin and Google couldn't find it is because the town of Sutliff was dissolved long ago! This area is still referred to as Sutliff but it's no longer incorporated.
The next day my friend Mike headed back home, my Dad and I headed to Mason City to visit some family and stay there for the night. Then headed home the following day, still avoiding the interstate for 90% of the trip.
I had such a wonderful time. I really debated not riding again, but I enjoy motorcycle adventures so much, I can't imagine living without it.