Driftless Illinois

Today, Puppy and Bear headed to northwestern Illinois for a weekend adventure. We hit the road from the western suburbs of Chicago and took a scenic route venturing along Illinois 64 and US 52 making it to the Mississippi River Valley at Sullivan, Illinois where we joined up with Illinois 84 and The Great River Road before heading north to the one time home of President Ulysses S. Grant: Galena, Illinois.

Galena is a former lead mining community and is nestled in the driftless area of Illinois. It’s really an amazing territory. The landscape differs greatly from much of Illinois because it was never flattened out by the glaciers during the last ice age, thousands-hundreds of thousands of years ago, leaving its hills and valleys undulating over the region. This is where the term driftless comes from, the glaciers never drifted over this territory.

We arrived in Galena Illinois just about 1:30 PM and immediately wanted to find lunch. The downtown area was crowded with people as they milled about the sidewalks and road bustling about from shop to shop. Today, Galena is a popular location for antique shopping, but many restaurants have popped up, as well as gift and kitsch shops. We quickly learned the error in our plans as we discovered long waits everywhere for food, with many places heavily backed up on account of the shortage of staff and the large crowds hitting the area. Eventually, we located a small Mexican restaurant that had a short wait time. The food was good, but the service slow, again on account of staff shortages. All together we ended up spending much more on lunch than we would have liked and we learned our lesson. All of the restaurant options in the area are expensive so when we return to the area we will be planning ahead with either a reservation made well in advance of our arrival, or better still, to save on costs, we will pack a picnic lunch to have at any of the many picnic spots on the side of the road leading into town.

Once we had food in our stomachs, we began to explore the shops. Some of them had some very lovely items, the cost not nearly as lovely as the goods that lined the shelves. So if you plan to shop, plan to have some decent spending money available.

As the afternoon wore on we found our way out of Galena over to East Dubuque where we checked into the Comfort Inn East Dubuque. The motel is decent, but clearly older and not extremely well maintained. It was clean, but the furniture had obvious signs of wear and tear. The desk worker was very friendly and polite and the nearby town of Dubuque Iowa, across the river had many options for food, so we grabbed some sandwiches and headed back to the motel to eat and watch a show. As our eyes grow heavier we think to tomorrow. We will be hitting the road again and traveling along the Stagecoach Trail and down from Scales Mound, Illinois to take in more of the fall foliage before heading home.