Day 7 Summary – August 6, 2005
Rochelle, IL to Brainerd, MN
The final day of my 2005 vacation would be spent doing pretty much nothing but driving, as there would be a grand total of 500 miles that would have to be covered in order to get from Rochelle, IL to Brainerd, MN.
Because of all the driving involved, there wasn’t much time to stop and do much major sightseeing. Still, I did get to see a lot of interesting stuff from the car window.
We opted once again to take a non-interstate route to get from Illinois to Minnesota, so the first action on day 6 was to take Illinois Highway 251 north from Rochelle to where it met up with Illinois Highway 64. Then, we followed this road west through the cities Oregon and Mount Morris and up to where it flowed into U.S. Highway 52.
The scenery on these three roads was much like what I had accustomed to before retiring to my hotel room in Rochelle the night before; there were a lot of farms, few trees, and very straight roads. The number of trees began growing, however, as we came to where highway 64 came together with highway 52. By the time we had gotten to Savanna, the landscape was hilly, there were a lot of trees, and the road was windy. We had once again reached bluff country along the Mississippi River.
After seeing – and stopping for awhile – in the quaint city of Savanna, we got on Illinois Highway 82 heading north through bluff territory. After going about 8 miles, we crossed the border into Illinois’ Jo Daviess County. It was at this point that I could say I had been to the southernmost county in Illinois (Alexander), the northeasternmost county in Illinois (Lake), and the northwesternmost county in Illinois (Jo Daviess).
Highway 82 eventually met up with U.S. Highway 20, onto which we turned left to go in a northwest direction. Immediately after the intersection of highways 82 and 20, the road ascended a very steep hill. Right at the top, miraculously enough, was a scenic overlook that featured a tower you could climb up to get an even better view! I, of course, went up to the top, and was treated to a wonderful view of the northwest Illinois countryside. Some people on the tower also said it was possible to see Iowa and Wisconsin from the top as well, so, who knows, I may have been looking at more than just Illinois.
After finishing up at the observation tower and scenic overlook, we got back on highway 20 heading toward Galena, IL. About 3 miles outside of the town, which is located in a steep valley that was a 7% grade along the roadway, we came up to a big traffic jam. It took about 30 minutes just to get to downtown Galena, where we figured out what was causing the giant blockage of traffic...the downtown’s one stoplight: it went red in way too short of time intervals.
We finally got through the mess in Galena, however, and were off on the way toward East Dubuque, IL, just across the Mississippi from Dubuque, IA. There wasn’t any time to make a stop in the Iowa city, however, so we instead turned onto Illinois Highway 35. From here, the Wisconsin border was only about 2 miles away.
Upon entering Wisconsin, Illinois Highway 35 turned into Wisconsin Highway 35, the same one we took on day 1 of the vacation, and the same one that goes all the way up to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border in Superior, WI.
There were a few more dairy farms and cornfields once we got into Wisconsin, but other than that, the countryside was pretty much like it had been since Savanna, IL. There were a lot of small hills, and every so often the road came close to Mississippi River, so that the state of Iowa could be seen on the other side.
Prairie du Chien was the first Wisconsin city of significance along highway 35, followed by La Crosse.
After going, this time, through downtown La Crosse and then later on the U.S. Highway 53 interstate-spur that runs north of the city, we got back onto the same highway 35 heading toward Trempealeau, WI that we had ridden along during the first day of the trip.
The road from Trempealeau to Prescott was much as how I remembered it from the first day, as was the subsequent road from Prescott into St. Paul. Not much happened along this stretch of roadway or the U.S. Highway 10 stretch of roadway that we got on and went north on in St. Paul. After all was said and done, we finally got home to Brainerd just as the sun was set at around 9 PM, and my 2005 vacation came to an end.
This was the view of the farm fields from our hotel room
This is along the road going into Rochelle
Scenery along the road in north-central Illinois
Another scene of the roadway in north-central Illinois
The view from the tower near Galena
Another view from the tower; the countryside consisted of gently rolling hills
A farmstead viewable from the tower
Looking south from the tower, U.S. Highway 20 can be seen in the lower right
Looking north from the tower
This is the tower
The countryside from the bottom of the tower
That farmstead that was seen in picture #7
The town of Galena off in the distance, with a stack of hay in the foreground
There is a 7% grade going into the city of Galena
The Galena cemetary
The brick building is President Ulysses S. Grant's home
Going up and down in the bluffs of Wisconsin
That's Granddad Bluff in La Crosse
The sunset along Minnesota Highway 371 near Fort Ripley
The Welcome to Wisconsin sign
More going up and down in the bluffs of Wisconsin
Welcome to Minnesota
Finally, at 9:07 PM, the welcome to Brainerd sign becomes visible
The local forecasts on The Weather Channel in the Chicago area also contain traffic updates
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