THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Onwards to Iowa
Down day, but fun

Dubuque to Hannibal, via the Field of Dreams and our first speeding ticket

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On the pitcher's mound at the Field of Dreams movie site
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The whole team, drivers and driven
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Watching the fishermen fish with nets and bows and arrows at Sabula
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Resting for tonight in Mark Twain's old room
Well rested and moderately well nourished we set off to drive the next section of the Great River Road, for the first time in convoy. Before leaving the Dubuque area, we flipped over to Dyersville to see the odd tourist attraction that is the movie location for Kevin Costner's baseball classic, "Field of Dreams". The Quarterback is more into ice hockey, but has an appreciation of America's national game - which is also played in Canada. I guess that's what makes it "the World Series", right? Two countries playing. I remember enjoying the movie very much, while not having the foggiest idea of why it was all so mystical.

The scouts identified a farm in Iowa and the film company paid to use it. The crew "built" (is that the right verb?) the baseball pitch in the course of four days. The farming family have maintained it ever since and it has become a tourist attraction that pulls in 3,000 people a weekend. Having become too old to manage the business they were thus magically gifted - the film company built it and they DID come - the family has now sold it to a business group that is going to build lots more baseball diamonds to create a sort of baseball mecca. Whether it works for the new owners or not, it has been a great asset to the old ones. They don't even charge admission - they have simply asked for donations to maintain the field and sold souvenirs.

Then we set off in quest of the GRR and found it easily enough for most of the way. We drove through beautiful country, first in Iowa, then Illinois and finally Missouri. My American mobile phone failed again and my English one (the expensive navigation substitute - eating mapping data on expensive roaming fees) locked onto a terrible phone company's signal that offered no data. The Quarterback's car (now named, unimaginatively, "Black Beauty") has US satnav, of course, but it was utterly fixated on the Interstates and refused to recalculate however long we persisted in following the GRR signs.

When the signs became sparse, we ended up lost and made our separate ways to Hannibal, MO - Mark Twain's home town. I eventually found my way back to the GRR. Q arrived from a different direction, in a grumpy mood, having picked up a speeding fine of $175 en route. It could have been worse. There was talk of cells and bail bonds, but kindness prevailed - to an extent.

Having picked a B&B to stay in while on wifi at our lunch stop we were pleasantly surprised to find it is a magnificent historical mansion - the former country home of the Garth family - 55 year friends of Mr Twain himself. My room is the guest room where he slept when last he stayed with them in 1902.

I bought dinner to compensate the Q for his speeding fine and we agreed that if either of us gets a fine on this run, the other will pay for the food that evening. Hannibal being a sleepy little town of only 17,000 inhabitants (though it sprawls over a wide area as if it were a much bigger city) the restaurant we went to was in the process of closing. The kitchen staff having left, the nice ladies waiting on and tending bar took pity on us. They produced a soup and salad combination that was probably a better choice than we would have made given the run of the menu.

Black Beauty announced on her way home that her right rear tire (tyre) was flat. We pulled in to a garage and - working by the light of an iPhone - re-inflated it. It seemed to hold and she is now complaining that it's over-inflated. The morning will reveal if we have a more serious -trip disrupting - problem.

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