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I’ve been driving back and forth between Mineral Point and Minnesota a lot for work recently.  I tend to leave in the middle of the night so I don’t see much going out, but I like to take the scenic route home.  I ended up loving the drive along the Mississippi so much, Leslie and I repeated part of the drive over the weekend–along a stretch of the Great River Road between Prairie du Chien and LaCrosse.  We were already fairly familar with the towns along the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien and on down.  We have spent time in Marquette, McGregor, Guttenberg, Potosi, Dickeyville and Dubuque.  And I’ve spent a fair amount of time further north along the Mississippi around Redwing, but we’d never driven the 50 miles from Prairie du Chien to LaCrosse.

For the first 10 miles out of Prairie du Chien, the river is split into a dozen different channels and you only catch glimpses of the backwaters through the trees.  Then, near Lynxville, you pass Lock and Dam No. 9 and the river opens up into Lake Winneshiek (pictured above).  The picture hardly does the place justice.  The two mile wide lake was flanked on either sides by limestone bluffs that shot steeply several hundred feet above the water.  It didn’t hurt that we were there near fall color, but to me this is the most beautiful section of the Upper Mississippi River.

We were hoping to stop at a restaurant I had seen on an earlier drive, The Red Lion.  A British pub? Complete with curries?  I was so excited.  But, sadly, it looks like they’ve closed.  The building was for sale.  So we ended up stopping at a little roadside stand and picked up a Klement’s chili dog and some fresh caught catfish.  I’m not usually fond of deep fried fish in general and of catfish in particular, but the fish was very fresh and the cornmeal batter was light and airy, like a (good) hushpuppy.

We actually took this drive rather impulsively, so by the time we were done eating it was starting to get dark and we decided to turn home.  We’re definitely planning on doing some more exploring in the area (I have no choice– working in Minnesota again on Monday).  We’d really appreciate any suggestions you have for places to stop along the river (anything over in Iowa is of interest too).  I have heard the Great River Road House in DeSoto in the place to go for pizza in the area.

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