And what a beautiful house-and-dog-sit it was!! Holly, is 8 years old and the BEST trained, nicest- natured dog that I have ever looked after! ( sorry to all the owners of the other dogs I’ve looked after!) The house was very cool, too! Built in 1826, it has been restored by the current owners SO well and in such a historically accurate way that they won an award from the county history board in 2010.
Not only was the house and dog wonderful, so was the town and district of Galena. An extremely picturesque town with a very long Main Street just packed with places to eat, drink and spend money! In fact, 1,500,000 tourists do that in Galena each year! As well as picturesque, Galena has an interesting history with connections to a US president and several Generals from the Civil War.
Tucked in the North -West corner of the state of Illinois, Galena is in a rare pocket of hills and twisty roads. Most of Illinois is flat, arable land, put to use in the growing of corn, soya beans and cattle. So Galena has the extra novelty of hilly countryside also.
Galena is also very close to the Mississippi River and is only a few miles (remember that old measurement??) from the state borders of Iowa and Wisconsin. Hence a wonderful place to explore! Add to that, the owners of both dog and home gave me the use of one of their vehicles ( called Holly’s Van) for the length of my house sit, so how privileged was I?
I decided not to abuse their kindness and to drive 100s of miles afield, but that still left me many options for closer exploration. I drove into Wisconsin and said a quick hello to the first small town I came to, Hazel Green, then another day I ventured into Iowa, to Dubuque, just across the Mississippi.
Holly and I had a lovely couple of hours walking along the river’s edge at the beautifully upgraded Port of Dubuque. It was easy to imagine it in its heyday with paddle steamers in great quantity docking and departing.
Apart from these 2 excursions, I kept my exploration fairly local. Apart from the picturesque Main Street of Galena, the more mundane (but useful) parts spread for a few miles along Route 20 in either direction from my house. I drove up and down this stretch at least once a day…in search of a supermarket, post office, bank, church, Walmart, and a cheapish place to eat called Calvers. My first few trips were quite tentative, but thankfully, it didn’t take too long to feel more comfortable driving on the other side of the road! I made sure I was always concentrating because I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to turn onto the wrong side of the road!
The above photos show you a selection of my daily activities. As usual, I sourced a place that made excellent coffee, called “Devour”. Another favourite little cafe for food was called “Otto’s place”, a delightful spot!
One thing that really fascinated me was the town’s flood gates. After the Galena river flooding the town too frequently for comfort, an engineer came up with a great idea of building a huge protective levee along the river, in conjunction with the flood gates. They have saved the town from flooding many a time since, as late as 2011. The top of the levee boasts an excellent walking trail, when it’s not flooded!!
I could go on and on about Galena…..it’s hard not to! I haven’t mentioned its history, its connection to General Grant and the civil war, its thriving River port prior to the invention of trains, the local Brewery that my home owners owned and the Halloween parade that was in its 37th year this year, but I will leave you with a few photos from aforementioned Halloween parade! Thousands turn out , from miles around, to see it!!