What an amazing weekend we had for my husband's birthday. To start off, we went camping. When the weather turned bad, we headed for Dubuque, off of the Mississippi, in northeast Iowa. Five short days that felt like a good week.
We started off heading up to Backbone State Park. Now, for a girl who grew up in southern California and was, unknowingly, spoiled by annual trips to places like Sequoia and Yosemite, it is hard pleasing me when it comes to camping. Backbone, though no Sequoia, was a very nice getaway that had us feeling as though we were immersed in nature.
We didn't get to do everything, but we did get to get out away from the camp site and have some fun. There was a wonderful trail along the lake that was a little bit of a challenge for the girls, which is always good, but nothing they couldn't handle. We hiked over to the "beach" where there is a neat old boat house and play ground. If we go back, we'll have to go during peak season and rent a canoe.
Being that it was Iowa, and the later part of September, the weather did not remain kind to us. Instead of testing whether or not our sleeping bags would keep us sufficiently warm in near freezing temperatures, we packed up and headed to Dubuque, about an hour away. I had wanted to visit the city for a while and was very happy my husband had decided on it to finish off his birthday trip.
Dubuque feels very much like stepping back in time about a hundred and fifty years, in a good way. There are modern buildings, but they don't do much to interfere with the charm of the victorian homes and old time factories. You can imagine the city in the hay day of it's river based industries. It reminded me very much of Portland with it's greenery and laid back feel. It was a welcome escape.
Dubuque is also home to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. We had to check it out. They had some eye opening , informative exhibits about the oceans and water ways and some great interactive areas for the kids. They aslo had a riverboat on display that you can explore. I would have loved to have gotten on the river in one, but that was just not in the budget for this trip. I was happy to at least be able to get on and walk around on a riverboat.
On our last night, we had dinner at an old brewery which was in an awesome old brick factory building. The food was OK for the price, but the atmosphere was nice and, or course, I loved the building.
Top that the whole thing off with the great people at the Fairfield Inn, and, man, what a great visit. I couldn't have asked for more from the short camping stay, and Dubuque did not disappoint. Looking forward to many more family vacations.