Monday, July 9, 2018

World's Largest Truck Stop

ANOTHER place we've (well, mostly me) have wanted to visit for years....the Iowa 80 Truck Stop west of Davenport, Iowa near the Mississippi River.

Here's the opening paragraph from their website:

A place where people want to stop. On the eastern edge of Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River, adjacent to the small town of Walcott, you’ll find a place like no other in the world. The Iowa 80 Truckstop, now the World’s Largest Truckstop, established its home here in 1964 and is now in itself a home away from home to countless drivers and a destination for travelers as well. Some say Iowa 80 Truckstop is like a small city, others have likened it to a Trucker’s Disneyland, all can agree it is a place not to be missed.

They have a huge truck museum next door and have a very large Truck Jamboree every year. It's amazing.

just a small portion of their parking lot that is being used for the jamboree

Over 900 Truck parking spots !! Just so you can we crossed Nebraska, the truck stops there had 65, 80, 90, 55, and 150 truck parking stops each.

Look how many parking spots for Iowa I-80 versus the Pilot in the upper right.
Inside was rows and rows and rows of anything you ever wanted, or dreamed of wanting, for your truck.

A Full-size truck and trailer....INSIDE !! 
Another truck !

All the lights you could ask for on the wall.

Here's what they do with the lights

...and this...

Three trucks in all inside

A full choice of chrome tailpipes

Anyone want to light up their truck?


More chrome 

...and even more chrome

at least 6 restaurants under roof

Anyone thirsty ?
They have a theater, special lounge seating for the truck drivers, a barber and even a dentist !

As we left, we spotted this "Condo Truck"

After all the searching, we only spent $60 on stuff. Guess our coach doesn't need any chrome or more lights.

We caught up with this truck down the highway and couldn't resist taking our picture in the reflection.

The Truck Stop was a pretty cool place to gawk over...glad we stopped.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Waterfalls, Taconite pebbles and morning pies

The North Shore drive in Minnesota is supposed to be one of the best drives to take soooo....we decided to try it out.

The line in blue is the North Shore route we took...about 140 miles.

We got up early in order to get to the Rustic Inn at 8am when they opened as it was a Saturday during Memorial Day weekend. Boy are we glad we did! We were first in the restaurant, followed by about 30 people !

Selfie in the entrance !

We went there for the pies they're famous for. Pie for breakfast !!?? You bet.

Here's the pie menu on the wall. Where to start?
We started out by each ordering one.

..which led to another one by Kim....

...then, after finishing my first one, I ordered another ! (We ended up taking some home for later.)

Next, we went up to Gooseberry Falls State Park where there are five waterfalls. When we pulled in, the parking lot had only 6 cars. When we left a couple of hours later, the parking lot was full of 100 cars and the road leading up to the main road was lined with more parked cars ! Glad we got there early.

Upper Falls 
Lower Falls

This is about half of the people that eventually showed up.

5th Falls

View from behind the 5th Falls. Kim is way in the distance on the bench.

Next, we went up the road and screeched to a halt at this amazing "flea market/garage sale" place.

Check out the glassware in this place! Kim spent over 45 minutes looking through the tables. the Taconite plant....This is where Iron ore is surface mined from the ground, taken by railcars to the plant and, after distilling the iron ore out of it, it becomes pellets of Taconite, which is then shipped to steel plants in Detroit or Cleveland to make make cars, etc.

This is what comes out of the ground before processing
before processing and after....
This is what gets shipped to the steel mills.
We drove up above the factory to view the operation.

View from above showing part of the plant.
The process illustrated...

...and the numbers that correspond at the plant.

Here's a large, large pile of the pellets waiting to be shipped.

We were fortunate to be at this location when an ore ship showed up.

At first, it looked like a ghost ship with the mist coming off Lake Superior

But little by little, it became clearer

Until it finally docked at the plant. These large ships no longer need tugboats because they're equipped with bow and stern thrusters so that they can maneuver right into the dock sideways with no assistance.
We both find this kind of observing very educational. One of the great things about travelling is that we're not just seeing Mount Rushmore or Statue of Liberty, etc. There are so many less-visited places that help educate us to more of what goes on in life. All of this helps to fill in the gaps to make our world larger and more full. We see iron ore being processed, then we visit an steel mill and then take a tour on a great lakes boat and it all comes full circle.

Also, we got see some cool tunnels, lighthouses and wonderful views.

Early morning....

an oblong tunnel !

Katie chased this little guy up the tree

Gooseberry River emptying into Lake Superior

Reading the geology of the area

Gorgeous Split Rock lighthouse

My new Galaxy 9 phone takes fantastic closeups!

Now...for the obligatory cute photos of Katie....

Nice road to travel...glad we got to go. Next up....Wisconsin.