Snortin' "66" Norton

Snortin' "66" Norton
"Humpin' to Please!"

Tuesday, May 22

Day 15: What, more ice cream?

By now you know that early starts are not a hallmark of this trip and today was no exception. By ten we were rolling though, and in search of a local breakfast spot. When we checked in last night, we asked the woman at the front desk to recommend some places that met our criteria (not a chain, breakfast pretty much any time - how hard is that?) and she told us Perkins and Country Kitchen. Wrong! We got online and found a place called Breezy's Cafe and then we got ourselves there. It was in downtown Dubuque and had been written about in the Washington Post (all that Iowa caucus stuff, you know). Breakfast was okay here - Kim's usual looked good but my eggs Benedict (what was I thinking?) was smothered in some sauce that looked almost like what would go on a Hot Brown. It was tasty, just not what I was expecting.

Since we were already there and it looked intriguing, we decided to explore Dubuque. Located on the banks (and bluffs) of the Mississippi River, it has a beautiful old courthouse with a shiny gold dome and a brand new hotel and civic center on the riverbank. We walked around for a while and found Dottie's Cafe, which we had read about but were glad we didn't choose, since it was very smoky inside.

Our passage over to the river and the Shot Tower was blocked by the highways and the railroad tracks, so we drove over there. We mistakenly thought we could see the Shot Tower up close, but it is on railroad property now. The Shot Tower was built in 1856 to produce lead shot ammunition. Molten lead was poured from the top of the tower and as it fell, it passed through a series of sieves until it was the proper size for ammunition, and then it landed in a tub of cold water. It's one of the only remaining shot towers in the country and the only one west of the Mississippi (barely!). There was a great Riverwalk along this area and the hotel boasts an indoor water park with a huge water slide. We couldn't get inside the Civic Center, but it was beautiful with a wall of windows facing the water.

We made one more stop an the Fenelon Place Elevator, an incline railway that looked like it went straight up the hill (see it at It is described as "the world's steepest, shortest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. Magnificent view of the business district, the Mississippi River, and three states." It was originally built for private use in 1892! We rode up with an Swedish exchange student and his family - the mom was afraid of heights so she couldn't look out and enjoy the ride. At only $2 a pop, it easily met our under $5 attraction fee rule!

By the time we left Dubuque, it was after noon, but the only place we had to be today was Lagomarcino's in Moline, IL, and we had until 5:30 to get there. No problem, right? Our route took us down the Great River Road, hugging the banks of the Mississippi on the Iowa side. Our first stop was at St. Donatus, where we stopped and saw two lovely old churches, and then we stopped in Bellevue ("Where eagles soar") and the very quaint and well-appointed Mont Rest B&B ( One of the proprietors took us on a tour of the inn (even though we didn't have an appointment) and then pointed us toward the State Park south of town.

At the state park, we were almost run over by an inattentive driver who was backing out of a parking place without noticing that we were driving down the road. Even after I laid on the horn, he still almost hit us, then saw us and sped off. How rude! The view of the river from up here was spectacular, but we missed the eagles by a few months. They evidently roost here from November to March, and the photos we saw were unbelievable - eagles perched on every branch! We hiked out to a butterfly garden and then visited a nature center with really great taxidermy and a live rattlesnake that I annoyed when I tried to get an up close and personal photo. Boy, are they loud! Turns out he'd only been in captivity for five days. On our way down to the highway, some large rodent (maybe a badger - we haven't identified it yet) ran in front of the car, but I didn't hit him!

On down the road we passed a silo with a huge fiddle painted on its side, and we noticed the Faithful Pilot restaurant in Le Claire, but we were on a mission by now. In Bettendorf, we saw a grain elevator with an old painting of Mr. Peanut on it and a huge golden sphere next to the train tracks that evidently was being used for coal storage. It was after 3:30 before we crossed the river into Moline, IL, home of Lagomarcino's, which, according to Road Food, has the best hot fudge sundae in the solar system. On a road trip a few years ago, my friend Anne and I had driven (fast) about 200 miles out of our way to test that opinion. Obviously, we agreed, since Kim and I were almost there again! Once we found it, we were not disappointed and yet again, lunch consisted of ice cream. Did I mention that both the ice cream and the hot fudge (which comes on the side in its own little pitcher!) are homemade? Divine! Add wooden booths, Tiffany lamps, and homemade candy and chocolates to the mix and you know we were in Nirvana. They even have one of those old hot nut display cases like our old Sears used to have. Unable to resist temptation, we bought cashews, dark chocolate English toffee, and milk chocolate almond bark for the road, which we promptly hit. You will be sorry if you don't at least look at and even sorrier if you don't order something from there! We spent a bit of time involuntarily wandering the streets of Moline and Rock Island before we made it back to the highway.

Now it was seriously time to drive and make time, since we had decided we would spend the night in Litchfield, IL, and see the two or three things we had missed (twice now) on Route 66 in Illinois the next morning. Our only other sighting of interest was an old wooden windmill (like the Dutch ones) that we saw somewhere in Illinois. Dark was falling as we entered Springfield (deja vu) so we jumped on the interstate and pulled into Litchfield in time for another meal at the Ariston Cafe (where good food is served). This time we both had one of the weekend specials - Kim had Chicken Olympia and cauliflower and I had Pork Tenderloin with walnut butter and mashed potatoes. For dessert, we split a serving of Chocolate Delight (our waiter described it as "chocolate pudding with Cool Whip on a crust" - comfort food!)

When we pulled into the Hampton parking lot, it was FULL of motorcycles, except for one space, which was occupied by some cigarette-smoking bikers. When we couldn't find another place to park, we nicely asked them for that spot but NO! - they were "saving" it for a bike that was "on its way." My rear. Not to worry, we found a place right next to our room in spite of the rude people.
We were stuffed and tired, but we had not even downloaded photos for the past couple of nights, so we at least did that before we crashed and burned. Only one more day...

Jan (where will we go next year?)

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