Jonna and Alan's RV trip to Wisconsin

In the Fall of 2021 we did an epic RV trip around the US. The start of that trip was a drive to the mid-west to visit with Jonna's family in Iowa and Wisconsin. We enjoyed that Mid-western Fall enough that we decided to do it again this year. We drove the camper to Madison, Wisconsin and spent a weekend with Jonna's cousin Heath and his family. We then did a quick drive into Chicago to have dinner with Alan's cousin Kelly before returning back to Wisconsin for a week driving the Great River Road along the upper Mississippi River. We then finished our trip with a weekend in Iowa visiting with Jonna's extended family of Melva and Tracy and an invitation to the Rawson family reunion where Jonna's mother's cousins got together for lunch. Along the way there were colorful autumn leaves, a mega corn maze, some excellent hikes and plenty of family time.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip (each photo is a thumbnail linked to a higher quality picture.):

1) The weekend of our arrival in Madison corresponded with Hudson and Callen's belt test at their after school karate class. We went along to watch and were very impressed with the skill and focus both boys showed in going through the test. So, apparently, was their teacher since both boys "leveled up" to their next belts.

2) On of the highlights of our 2021 Fall was going through the Treinen Farm corn maze with the whole Whitcher family so as soon as we arrived in Madison we asked if we could do it again this year. Everyone agreed and Abby's sister Kacy joined us as well for a fun afternoon. We spent two hours going through the entire 15 acre corn maze. Once again a fabulous experience. Afterwards, the kids played in the tractor tire playground and kick ball arena while some of us hiked up the hill behind the farm to the scenic overlook which gave nice views over the entire valley. Once again we all enjoyed it and I think I already know what we'll be doing next Fall...

3) See all those smiles? Those aren't forced. We all had a blast!

4) The hardwood trees of the mid-west were putting on a great show this autumn and we enjoyed seeing the colorful oaks, maples, ash, birch and elm trees all over Wisconsin.

5) Jonna's father, Ross Sherrill, was from eastern Iowa and this year we discovered the small town of Sherrill, Iowa. No idea if there is any connection to the name but we at least stopped for a photo at the city park sign.

6) We spent most of a week driving along the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin and spent four nights camping in Wisconsin State Parks along the way. Our first stop was at Nelson Dewey State. This park was already shutting down for the season which mean there was no water available anywhere in the camping area but it also meant there were only a couple of other campers in the large campground so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. In addition to camping for the night we got out the in the morning to hike the Mound Point trail which led up to a scenic overlook that provided a panoramic view of the Mississippi River valley.

7) Our next stop was camping for two nights at Wyalusing State Park a little further up the river. We arrived early and luckily found our campsite open so we could immediately park which gave us the afternoon to do a big hike. We strung together a bunch of different trails to make a big loop through the northern portion of the park which started on top of a 500 foot high rocky bluff above the Wisconsin River, climbed up to Treasure Cave, then looped around to a bluff over the Mississippi River to see a string of Native American burial mounds. From there we dropped all the way down to the river side where the Wisconsin joins the Mississippi where we hiked upstream on the bnak of the Wisconsin to a point where we could climb back up to the top of the bluff. The entire loop was filled with colorful trees, scenic views and, thankfully, no other hikers!

8) The Wyalusing campground was packed but the spots were spaced out enough that our spot still felt like a quiet pull-off in the forest. ...But with an electric hookup! The view over the Wisconsin River valley from our campsite was gorgeous.

9) For our second day in Wyalusing we got to hike a different part of the park via the Sand Cave trail. The trailhead was very busy but we didn't see anyone else on the loop that went to Little Sand Cave and Big Sand Cave so another excellent hike.

10) For the next day we switched over to the Iowa side of the Mississippi River where we visited the Effigy Mounds National Monument. This park protects a large number of burial mounds all along bluffs overlooking the river and there are numerous hiking trails that provide access to the major clusters of mounds. We did the the loop closest to the visitor center and enjoyed seeing the different types of burial mounds, the scenic river overlooks and spotting a few different animals along the trail. We liked it enough that we may stop in again on future trips to this area to do one of the longer hikes.

11) Jonna's mother's Rawson cousins were gathering in West Union, Iowa for a family reunion on the Saturday that we were passing through the area so we happy to be invited to join them for the lunch. The family had an album with notes from past family reunions going all the way back to 1934! We thumbed through it and found were Jonna had last attended this family reunion back in 1972. For me, it was very nice to meet the family and spent some time hearing family stories.

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Alan Fleming