Boasting undulating hills and acre upon acre of verdant pastures, IOWA lacks the glitz and glamour of America’s more widely visited states. Indeed, Iowa represents as vivid a portrait of quintessential rural America as you’re likely to find; crimson barns, big blue skies and vast fields of corn with only grain elevators breaking the horizon. Even writer Bill Bryson, who grew up in Iowa and didn’t like it much in Lost Continent – he calls Des Moines “the most powerful hypnotic known to man” – remarks on the friendliness of the locals. There’s a sense of humour too; Iowa is not only the birthplace of Hollywood cowboy king John Wayne (in 1907), but is also the “future birthplace” of one Captain James T. Kirk (expected in 2228), celebrated with a marker and annual Trekfest in the small town of Riverside.
Travellers usually experience Iowa by heading west along I-80 via Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, collegiate Iowa City and Des Moines, or heading north along the Mississippi to Dubuque.
The small city of DUBUQUE (“debuke”) occupies a handsome location amid rocky bluffs on the Mississippi River, 84 miles northeast of Iowa City. The city’s origins lie in a small settlement established by French-Canadian pioneer Julien Dubuque, after the local Meskwaki people granted him rights to mine lead here in 1788 – in the nineteenth century, Dubuque became a booming river port and logging centre. Today it’s developed into something of a mini-break destination, with a couple of huge casinos, resort hotels, a smattering of grand nineteenth-century buildings and plenty of attractions.