Monday, May 3, 2010

Anamosa & Dubuque, Iowa and Madison & Ripon, Wi.

Mon, Tue, Wed - April 26th, 27th, 28th

This is the Anamosa State Penitentiary, built in the 1890s. It is huge and includes a whole wing for women. They also have working prison farms and a prison cemetery. There is a museum which was closed the day we were there. It is built of local stone from Stone City just a few miles away. All of the buildings in this quaint little village of Stone City are made of this stone. The Grant Wood Art Gallery (American Gothic) and the National Motorcycle Museum are also in Anamosa.

Views of the Mighty Mississippi at Dubuque, Iowa.

River Walk with sculptures along the way. There is a shot tower behind the building that now has shopping in it. Shot towers were used to make bullets by pouring hot lead in at the top. As it cooled on it's way down, it formed into a bullet. Lead was mined in the area, called the Mines of Spain, because it was owned by Spain at the time.

Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mt. Carmel Home Care high up, overlooking the third largest river in the world. Just a little more inspiring architecture.

National Mississppi River Museum & Aquarium. This is a wonderful museum with great videos and interactive stuff. They have river wildlife including birds, fish, turtles, frogs, alligators and lots of lizard varieties.

Here's a strange looking lizard.

And here's an even stranger one.

Trivia: Did you know the world's largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, can get up to 150 pounds and 10 feet long. One 92 pound dragon was recorded as eating an entire 66 pound pig in 17 minutes.

The museum includes outdoor displays of boats and other stuff on the river, too. This dredging boat can be stayed on overnight, including a meal, museum ticket and tour of the boat for $98.00.

Fenelon Place Elevator, also known as the 4th Street Elevator is the world's shortest, steepest, scenic railway at 296 feet in length. Views of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Open April thru November.

Courthouse and connected jail in front. I just snapped this quick, as we were driving by. Aren't digital cameras amazing?

Arboretum at Marshall Park. Not very many flowers blooming yet, but it was still quite beautiful.

I'll bet you're all jealous, now that you've seen my man will actually put his head in a lion's mouth for me. He has always said that there is nothing he won't do for me and that he treats me like a goddess. I guess I can't argue anymore. "If only", he says.

Lock number 11 on the Upper Mississippi River. Everything from the Rockies to the Alleghenies, including the Missouri, drains into the Mississippi.

These are views from our campground, which is just a little way down from the locks. Our campground was just behind the Mystique Casino where they have greyhound dog races.

The area from Dubuque, Iowa to LaCrosse, Wi. is referred to as "The Little Alps".

Wisconsin State Capitol at Madison, situated on an isthmus with Lake Monoma to the east and Lake Mendota to the west. The first state capitol was at Belmont for only 45 days where only one decision was made. You guessed it, the decision was to move it to Madison. The first capitol in Madison was torn down after 25 years because it was too small. The second one burned down in 1904. It was replaced over 11 years for 7.2 million dollars. It has 43 different kinds of stone and marble from France, Italy and Tennesee. In places you can see fossils of starfish and anemone in the marble. This is an exact replica of the Liberty Bell except for the crack. In the 1950s, France gave 55 of them to each state, territory and the District of Columbia. It has the only granite dome in the United States and is the largest dome by volume in the U.S. It has glass floor tiles on the third floor to let some of the light from the sky lights through to the floors below. Just below all the light blue squares in the upper part of the dome, it looks like a band of gold trim. It is actually a walkway and railing, to give you some idea of how big it is. The Wisconsin Assembly had the first electric voting machines in the world.

There are badgers many places throughout the building, as it is the Wisconsin symbol. It comes from when the first lead miners dug holes in the sides of hills and lived in them. They were referred to as badgers. Legend says rubbing the nose of this badger just outside the governor's conference room will bring you good luck. This room was designed after a small chamber in the Doge's Palace in Italy. There are 26 historical paintings on the walls and ceiling of the Governor's Conference Room all done by the same artist. He was paid $25,000.00. The capitol was restored and renovated from 1988 to 2002 for just under $160 million. Part of "Public Enemy" with Johnny Depp was filmed here because it looks so much like our nation's capitol, except that it is actually 16'2" taller than the U.S. capitol. They get 1,000 school kids a day touring through this time of year. John says no big deal, that's just two bus loads.

"Fat Bruce's" in Ripon, Wi. sounded like a good place to eat, but John voted against it.

We just stopped in Ripon to see the birthplace of the Republican Party in this small school house.

We didn't find out till after we left that there is an even better place here, the Ripon Good Cookie factory where you can eat all the free samples you want and buy lots of cookies to take home. Good thing we didn't know. It might have been a worse mistake than "Fat Bruce's" restaurant.

We finally arrived at Wrightstown on the Fox River to visit with cousins and enjoy their river view with them for several days.

Off to Minnesota Tuesday, May 4th. Back home in Brookings by Friday.
See you all there.

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