Back on the megabus/windstar bus and so far so good despite some initial chaos at the bus stop when crowds of riders were trying to figure out which of several buses were theirs.
We ended up at the Chicago history museum yesterday- we were eager to beat the heat and opted against the Singer Sargent show at the Art Institute for fear it would be too crowded and close to the lollapalooza throngs. The museum had some cool things including a temporary exhibit on Chicago blues with fun interactive elements. We made our own record covers, sang karaoke on stage with Koko Taylor (who I saw live several times) and worked a sound engineer booth. I learned that Crate and Barrel started in Chicago and had an early partnership with Marimekko, the Finnish textile design company that I learned more about in Helsinki.
Dinner at Nonnina was enjoyed by all, which was a relief since ours can be a discerning crowd. Surprised by how packed it was at 6 pm on Saturday night. Excellent Italian. We walked along the new-ish river walk and were impressed by all the hubbub, people everywhere on and off the water, at cafes, restaurants and public spaces, hanging out on docked or moving boats. The city was all lit up at night and looked great. The one potential issue is all the private boat traffic. The river is pretty narrow and there seemed to be a lot of traffic from kayakers to boat tours and public water taxis to fancy cruisers and little dinghies. Very democratic but chaotic.
As I suspected we are the sole occupants of this arts and crafts mansion on a bluff in the wood high above the Mississippi on the outskirts of Dubuque, which is a little spooky but also kind of fun because we wandered through all the bedrooms, admiring the heavy wood craftsman furniture, the pretty bedspreads and elegant rugs, the little window seats and well-appointed living spaces. I can add the Four Mounds estate in Dubuque to my list of sort of creepy inns where we have been the sole occupants. Others include a b&b in Mendocino with Dirck and an inn in Eureka Springs with Francine. My sister Laurie is being the good sport tonight.
I picked her up at the Quad Cities airport where the Megabus/Windstar from Chicago dropped off and we drove up the Great River Road along the Mississippi, which I haven’t traveled in years.
Fenelon Place Elevator, Dubuque
It was grey, chilly and still brown on the ground but there were sights worth seeing including huge barges and riverboats on the river, the hipster Antique Archaeology store in LeClaire (owned by the folks who have the popular American Pickers show on the History Channel); the view of the lock and dam from on high at Bellevue State Park, the old stone church and cemetery and Way of the Cross in the tiny Luxembourger village of St. Donatus and the one of a kind Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque.
Megabus to restart service in Iowa
The low-cost bus line Megabus is restarting service in Iowa.
The company said Tuesday that beginning March 1 service will resume with daily stops in Lincoln, Neb., Omaha, Des Moines, Coralville, Moline, Ill., and Chicago. Additional service will be added as needed on weekends and holidays.
Competition from cheap gasoline prompted Megabus to drop its Chicago-to-Omaha bus in January. The route included stops in Davenport, Coraville and Des Moines.
The New Jersey-based Megabus teamed up with Windstar Lines to bring the service back to Iowa. The company will use Windstar buses, which are equipped with WiFi and power outlets. Megabus will handle ticket sales.
The company is offering 500 seats for $1 in the first week of service.
Go to megabus.com to book tickets.
Written last night (before safely arriving, an hour late in Des Moines):
There may be a thief among us, here on the Megabus bumping along Interstate 80 in rural Iowa on a dark December night, but you have to wonder why someone on this bus would leave his diamond ring and watch in his coat pocket and then leave said coat unattended during a rest stop near Peru, Illinois. As the theft, or whatever it is was, was duly reported, my fellow passengers looked aghast. Now we had to wait for the police and a possible search of the bus and us (or so one rumor went) and our 7 hour bus ride (from Chicago to DSM, which should normally take 6 hours tops) suddenly threatened to get a lot longer.
Fortunately the police arrived fairly quickly (who knew police drive White Ford 150 pickups?), talked briefly to the alleged victim and the driver and we were on the road again after a 1/2 hour delay. It was a reminder of the downside of taking the megabus (along with yakking passengers and the overpowering smell, in close quarters, of McDonald’s cheeseburgers) but there are upsides too — including the affordability ($41 for this ride) and easy on-and-off – and so I am sad to see megabus service between Chicago and Omaha end, which it reportedly will as of early January.