14948
Illinois/Iowa/Wisconsin/Minnesota
On the Road: The Best of the Upper Mississippi River
Navigate the Upper Mississippi through three to four states to discover nature and history in charming towns. Exclusive excursions access places where the general public can't go.
Rating (5)
Program No. 14948RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
2,149
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Moline/The Quad Cities
D
Radisson on John Deere Commons-Moline

Activity note: We board/unboard a motorcoach many times each day. Can you climb 4 motorcoach steps in 15 seconds and many times throughout the day? If so, you should have no problem with the pace of this program.

Afternoon: Independent Arrivals. Check in at the front desk for your hotel room key. Hotel rooms are available after 3:00 p.m. Arriving early? Let the front desk hold your luggage as you explore the river walking trail behind our hotel, or the John Deere Pavilion across the street. See the Quad Cities map in your pre-departure materials for other nearby attractions and restaurants. Our meeting room opens at 4:45 p.m. (on hotel second floor) for you to pick up your program materials and select a seat. Program begins at 5:00 p.m. with very important program announcements and orientation. Please attend the 5 p.m. meeting if possible.

Dinner: Dinner follows important program announcements and orientation.

Evening: Dinner completes at 7:00 p.m. Continue visiting with fellow participants, settle into your room, and enjoy a good night of sleep for a full day tomorrow.

DAY
2
Cow Robots / River Music / Frosty Frogs
Moline/The Quad Cities
B,L,D
Radisson on John Deere Commons-Moline

Breakfast: Breakfast in our hotel.

Morning: Farm to Fork. We learn directly from the people who grow our foods as we visit a private farm. See how technology meets tradition on family farms, as we watch robots milking cows; learn about the crops they raise; and observe the massive field equipment required for farming today.

Lunch: We enjoy a special lunch prepared by our farm hosts, and served inside their private home.

Afternoon: Mississippi River Music. We return to the Quad Cities (Davenport, Iowa), to hear the river's musical history in narration and song. Following the Mississippi River's upstream route as our guide, our instructor will cover Zydeco, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Country, and Rock n' Roll, from the Gulf of Mexico to Minnesota. "It's Freezing Out Here!" What near-miraculous mechanisms do frogs, turtles, and insects use to survive the harsh winters of the Upper Mississippi? We go inside a college professor's lab for hands-on learning about native ectothermic ("cold-blooded") animals and the unusual means they use to survive this region of the river.

Dinner: Dinner is provided in a popular Moline restaurant.

Evening: Evening at leisure.

DAY
3
Special Lock & Dam Tour/ Tiffany Windows/ Wild Edibles
Dubuque, IA
B,L,D
Hotel Julien Dubuque

Activity note: Today's special "Beyond the Gate" tour of the lock & dam is restricted to U.S. citizens only. A government-issued ID (U.S. passport or *driver's license) is required to enter the island for the lock tour. Must wear closed-toe footwear, and be able to walk/stand one hour for this special tour (not open to the public). *Missouri, New Mexico and Washington state driver's licenses require additional ID to participate. See the documents section for details.

Breakfast: Breakfast in our hotel.

Morning: Enjoy a front row view of boats passing through locks from an observation deck inside the Lockmaster's control center. The island is also home to an active U.S. military arsenal, National Cemetery, historic buildings, and site of the infamous first railroad bridge over the Mississippi River. By special permission, the Army Corps of Engineers take us "Beyond the Gate" for a private Road Scholar tour of the Mississippi River Lock and Dam. Learn the purpose of the locks and gain an insider's view of their operation. This lock is located on Rock (Arsenal) Island, located smack in the middle of the Mississippi. See today's activity note for documents required to enter this island.

Lunch: We depart Moline, stopping for lunch in a former riverboat captain's home in LeClaire, Iowa. An hour of free time after lunch in LeClaire allows you to choose your favorite activity. LeClaire is home to “The American Pickers” (as seen on the History Channel), and is birthplace of history's Buffalo Bill. You may explore the American Pickers store; or the Buffalo Bill Museum ($4 entry fee); or the quaint shops in this charming little river town. Or you may continue to visit with other group members in our restaurant during our free time hour.

Afternoon: We continue by coach to Dubuque. Your Study Leader travels with you throughout the entire program, providing history and insights about every place we visit. At Dubuque, we make a special visit inside St Luke's Methodist Church. Built in 1896, the church is noted for its Tiffany stained glass windows, considered one of the finest religious Tiffany collections in the world. We then check into our Dubuque hotel.

Dinner: For dinner tonight, we learn about local Wild Edibles and dine on them! A naturalist will teach us how to select edible plants from natural areas; and will prepare a special dinner for us from native plants and wild game.

Evening: Optional Evening Activity: Ride the "shortest and steepest cable car in the country" to the top of a Dubuque river bluff for an evening river view of three states. Your leader will join you and will even pay for your ticket.

DAY
4
Backwaters Refuge Excursion/ Historic Overlook
Dubuque, IA
B,L,D
Hotel Julien Dubuque

Activity note: We are on our Mobile Classroom (motorcoach) a total of 4 hours today (divided by many stops).Today's river excursion requires walking a 10-foot dock to board/unboard our large pontoon boat.

Breakfast: Visit with other Road Scholars as you enjoy a breakfast buffet in our hotel's private dining room.

Morning: A special Road Scholar river excursion! A former clammer details his life as he takes us into secret places of the river where the big boats cannot go. Learn about mussels and their pearl treasures.

Lunch: Lunch is provided.

Afternoon: Back on our bus, we scale to the top of Pikes Peak bluff in Iowa for a majestic view of the river and visit to an effigy (bear shaped) mound. Our coach continues on the Great River Road through Iowa to our evening dinner destination. AAA magazine declares this section of The Great River Road to have some of the "best vistas of the Mississippi River in America".

Dinner: Dinner at a popular restaurant with a fascinating story.

Evening: Following dinner, we return by coach to our Dubuque hotel, which is a historic landmark. Former guests of our hotel include Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Al Capone. Following a $33 million renovation, the Hotel Julien Dubuque today is a blend of rich history with modern luxury and style.

DAY
5
Charming Galena / Wisconsin Mine/ History Dinner
Dubuque, IA
B,L,D
Hotel Julien Dubuque

Activity note: We are on our Mobile Classroom (motorcoach) a total of 3 hours today (divided by several stops). The narrated Galena/ zinc mine history tour requires 90 steps (both up and down) at your own pace to a level walkway 50 feet underground. Hard hats are provided. The underground mine passage is level, spacious, and ventilated with fresh air always. Small passage exploration is by choice. Persons not wishing to participate in the mine tour may explore museum exhibits and video history above ground.

Breakfast: Visit with other Road Scholars as you enjoy a breakfast buffet in our hotel's private dining room.

Morning: Today we cross the Mississippi into Wisconsin. We stop briefly at an unusual grotto, built by a Catholic priest in the 1920's, for his love of God and his country. Our next Wisconsin stop is Platteville, where we discover what attracted early settlers to this Driftless Region, and why Galena is Wisconsin's state mineral. Learn the local history and hear stories when 50 feet underground, as we explore an original Galena lead mine.

Lunch: Lunch provided.

Afternoon: We continue by coach to Galena, Illinois. Once the steamboat capitol of the Upper Mississippi, Galena's historic charm is now its draw. Hear the history of local landmarks during a narrated bus tour of the city. Afternoon free time permits exploring Galena sites of your choice. You may visit the U.S. Grant home or Galena's historical museum, take a guided architectural tour by trolley, or browse unique shops in this picture postcard of the past. Return coach shuttles to Dubuque are provided.

Dinner: This evening is a special progressive dinner in Dubuque. We enjoy a different dinner course inside three notable mansions and historic landmarks. Our meal is flavored with local history through narrated tours, stories, and songs.

DAY
6
Victorian Riverboat Excursion/ Mississippi Museum & Aquarium
Moline/The Quad Cities
B,L,D
Radisson on John Deere Commons-Moline

Activity note: Today's river excursion is required participation, but no one wants to miss this! The riverboat excursion is usually 7 hours in length, but can be longer due to river lock delays. Our Moline hotel check-in following the river excursion is usually 7:30 pm. Special meals are provided on this day only. The special meal form (located in your pre-departure material packet) is required 6 weeks prior to the program if you want the chef to prepare special meals for you today.

Breakfast: Visit with other Road Scholars as you enjoy a breakfast buffet in our hotel's private dining room.

Morning: A very special day! Mark Twain called this type of boat a "floating palace". First, we explore the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, located in the Port of Dubuque. Affiliated with the Smithsonian, this multi-building museum provides interactive exhibits indoors and out. Study live animals and fish of the river and view films in several theaters. The museum includes an actual dredge boat, now restored and permanently docked in the Port of Dubuque. An interpreter will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Today is our final river excursion. Our Victorian riverboat is reminiscent of steamboat glory days. This is your day to relax and simply enjoy the river in the manner of your choice. Listen to captain narrations, bring a book to read, visit with others, or simply watch new vistas unveil as we round each bend. Our 7-hour river excursion navigates through two locks and dams from Dubuque to Le Claire, Iowa.

Lunch: Lunch is prepared and served during our river excursion down the Mississippi.

Afternoon: Enjoy live music and join in the fun, as our riverboat continues downstream. During our excursion, you may explore all three decks on the riverboat, inside or out. Spot bald eagles and water fowl. Hear about historic sites along the river. The captain invites you to join him in the pilot house, and he may even let you take a turn at the wheel!

Dinner: Dinner is prepared and served on our Victorian riverboat.

Evening: Our coach meets us in Le Claire, IA (near the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois) and brings us to Moline for evening hotel check-in and farewells.

DAY
7
Program concludes with breakfast at our hotel
Moline/The Quad Cities
B

Breakfast: Breakfast in our hotel.

Morning: Our program ends Saturday morning on your own schedule. Check out is 11:00 am. As a travel day, no activities are scheduled, but many free time activities are available in the Quad Cities to do on your own.






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