No ordinary trip...

I. Love. Roadside attractions.

That addiction that is ever present, especially when I have a chance to spend an extended period of time in a specific area. I tend to show up prepared.  I did my research, and made enough noise about it before our recent winter family getaway that no one was surprised when needed I ventured out to see some sights.

Once out of the hotel, like a military "shock and awe" operation, G Love and I hit Dubuque with the precision of a scalpel...  As it turned out, the cosmos were in alignment and we enjoyed a couple of nice little bits of luck.

Oh...and yes.  I said Dubuque.  As in Iowa.  Exotic destination eh?  Kinda what we thought too, but the idea was to get the hell out of the UnForest, into an indoor waterpark and essentially forget about the everyday business of life.  Dubuque was far enough away, but not the "usual" indoor waterpark destination.

The truth is, for all the times I have traveled through Dubuque, I have never thought much of the city.  Well...other than being a convenient place to stop and pee, or grab a bite on the way to the homeland.  But after having spent some quality time there, I hear-by declare that Dubuque is a seriously cool city that is getting even cooler.

Added benefit:  It is a Mississippi river town and I sure do love me some big river.

So rather than gush on and on about how much fun we had, I offer a pictorial recap of how I saw things.

But first, there it is: digital proof that my children CAN get along.

American Gothic...only it is 25 feet tall and freaking schweeeeeet!

Finding a giant American Gothic statue...Cool.  Finding a mini Statue of Liberty (on accident)...BONUS!  Photographing G Love and capturing two separate roadside attractions in the same image....BOOYAA!

Who moved up to the advanced level Roadside Attraction hunter?  This guy did.

Speaking of luck....this one needs a little background.

So I got sent out for beer.  Oh, and groceries.  But I missed the turn to go into the Hy-Vee lot.  Then, I managed to miss the second turn for reasons I don't care to discuss.  So, as I drove on, thinking there might be another grocery store nearby (I heard they travel in packs...), I realized that on I had seen something called the "Gas Station Jesus", and I remembered the map showing it to be close to where I thought I was.  So as I got to what looked to be the end of civilization, I noticed the road that stuck in my mind as the home of "Gas station Jesus", and I turned in.

I was thoroughly confused to find a statue of Mary and Child, but no statue of Jesus.  At this point, I had already taken more time than I had promised Mrs. MacLoosh than I would take...but I thought shit, better get the is after-all, not everyday you find a religious statue at a gas station...and get back to the Hy-Vee.

So the next day, as G and I were on our sightseeing excursion, I was headed down the same road towards a new goal destination, looked over an screamed "There it is!".  G-Love started bouncing around the back seat like he had been suddenly filled with flubber as I pulled an impromptu U-Turn.  I whipped into the same gas station as the night before, and had arrived a full 10 minutes after the owner had finished putting the "Gas Station Jesus" back up after an unfortunate snow plow incident.

Sorry to disappoint, but the ropes are not intended to have religious undertones...
This happened almost immediately after finding the mini Statue of Liberty.

The cosmic coincidence of this moment was not lost on me, so I went inside and asked the owner to pose with me in a picture, next to the statue.  He, quite unfortunately, declined.  He was very polite, but I think he thought I was crazy and off balance.

What does it mean when the guy with religious statues at his BP gas station thinks *I* am crazy?

There wasn't much time to dwell on this because as an added bonus, directly across the road, was yet another cool statue.

Anyway, despite being rejected by the gas station owner...I moved up to Roadside Attraction hunter level EXPERT.  Thank you very much.

On a mission like this, one can never forget to keep their eyes open for fishing opportunities (which is where we were headed when we stumbled on "Gas Station Jesus")...G Love and I made our way out to the Lower Swiss Valley Nature Preserve to check out a trout stream.  Turns out the stream is stunningly beautiful, full of trout, and has a cool nature center.  (Duly noted for future trips...)

And inside the Nature Center were sweet interactive displays...we (yet again...) managed to make people uncomfortable.  As if the gas station owner wasn't enough, now the ranger wasn't impressed with the MacLoosh boys...

It's not *OUR* fault there were mutant bees inside this place.  Geez.....doesn't anyone have a sense of humor any more?

That was the end of our little outing.  We figured we had enough people irritated at us, so it might be time to head back to the hotel.

How do you follow up a day like that??  With the Mississippi National River Museum.  Of course.  G Love and I were with the MacLoosh girls at this one, so we did a better job of behaving.  Sorta.  And, we may have even corrupted the girls while we were at it...

It wasn't hard to convince the girl to join in...

Because it isn't possible to have a Mississippi River Museum without homage to Literary legend Samuel Clemens...

And somehow, I think Mr. Clemens would have appreciated Mrs. MacLoosh's best efforts....

For the record...I started growing my mustache today since they clearly work....
What would a trip to a river museum be without a boy eating catfish?

A better view:

And finally, because you just don't see these *everywhere*....

OK.  That's the recap, and in case you didn't Saturday is the opener of the Early C & R season. I am woefully unprepared...but that won't stop me from getting out.  Any bets this week is one of the longest of my life??

Til later,


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