Most of the towns, even the small ones, had large Catholic churches with beautiful steeples.
And, finally, we got to see the mighty Mississippi River. It was a misty, moisty day, so the river looked a bit moody.
If you look carefully at this photo, you will see that these farms lie along the bank of the Mississippi.
Bingse drove us to the little town of Festina, Iowa. A few miles outside of town is where we found this little church (St. Anthony of Padua Chapel) - actually known as "the world's smallest church." The sign reads: "On this site in 1849 the first Catholic Mission north of Dubuque was built of logs. In 1885 nearby landowners quarried stone and built the little chapel. Construction resulted from a vow by Johann Gaertner's mother to build a chapel should her son, who was drafted into the French army and served under Napoleon, return safely from the Russian campaign. Relatives of Frank Huber maintain the chapel and grounds, which includes the grave of Johan Gaertner."
It is open to the public at no charge, although donations are welcome.
Inside there are two rows of pews, each of which seat about three people.
The ceiling is painted a pale blue and decorated with gold leaf stars. It reminded me of the ceiling of the Dubina church - one of the "painted churches" we visited, here in Texas - which was also painted blue, with platinum stars.
This bridge, at Dubuque, spans the Mississippi between Iowa and Illinois. Notice how swollen the river was this day. Bingse told us that the sign, out in the water, which reads "No Swimming Or Wading," usually stands about six feet in the air!
After crossing the river, we drove a little way into Illinois, stopping in the town of Galena, where we saw the home of Ulysses S. Grant. The home was given to Grant by residents of Galena in 1865 as thanks for his Civil War service.
Galena is built up the side of a steep hill, and this is a view from one of the hillside streets, looking down onto some park land.
Galena's economy is heavily dependent upon tourism. The narrow downtown streets are lined with old buildings, housing all sorts of wonderful shops and restaurants. I'd love to go back and spend more time there. Maybe on another visit.
We drove outside of town on what is known as The Great River Road, just to take in some of the scenery.
Bingse also took us to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where we ate a great lunch at a little pub, but I didn't take any pictures in Wisconsin.