Illinois, Discovering

Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours

Have you ever planned a road trip and almost nothing goes as planned? Road trips are not always fun and Instagram-able but we’re here to tell you it’s entirely possible to make the most of the detours along the way.

We had a trip planned to attend a family reunion near Quincy, IL. This is a part of the great state of Illinois we had never been to. So we were excited to check it out. Some of our other IL travel adventures are here , here and here. In typical Dining Duster fashion, we extended the trip by a few days so we could Dine, Drink & Discover some new territory.

The Great River Road

This trip was the perfect opportunity to take a scenic drive down the The Great River Road along the Mississippi River. We’ve driven it multiple times from Red Wing, MN (Kelly’s birthplace) to Dubuque, IA and it’s one of our favorite drives to repeat. Completing the entire drive to Louisiana is on our Dining Duster Trips Bucket List but for now, this trip was the perfect opportunity to see a bit more of the Great River Road.

It was a hard decision not to pick up the Great River Road from LaCrosse, WI because that is beautiful territory. Instead, we opted to take the faster (boring) drive down the highway to start our scenic drive and pick up the Great River Road in the Quad Cities.

Here’s where our itinerary started to fall apart….

It’s important to note that we have generally positive attitudes and can roll with the punches. It’s easy for us to make lemonade of lemons, find the silver lining and all that good stuff. Of course we know not all things will go as planned but this trip ended up being a comedy of errors!

Planning a Road Trip

It’s also worthy to note that we like to do our research before hand so that we don’t miss the “best” whatever or avoid places because of poor Trip Advisor and Google Reviews. We do what we can to create the best trip for ourselves! We like to go in with a plan but are obviously open and look forward to spontaneity and stumbling on fun stuff to do or see.

Mother Nature had an entirely different plan. Mass flooding in the Midwest prevented us from seeing much of the river at all. We encountered more “Emergency Road Closed” signs than we did sights of the Mississippi on our trip South.

We’ll try not to bore you with too many words, so here’s a condensed version of our “detours” along the way.

  • First Lunch Spot, which shall go unnamed, was possibly the worst Indian food we’ve ever had, despite the raving online reviews on Trip Advisor.
  • Brewery closed due to flooding
  • Dinner closed due to flooding

Silver Lining: We found a backup brewery in Moline, IL that was next door to a Thai Restaurant that ended up being one of our top 5 Thai dishes!!

  • Davenport Skybridge garbages overflowing and just kind of gross, coincidentally, closing the following day for renovations. The views were of the flooded river.
Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours
Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours
  • Vander Veer Botanical Garden open but barely a bloom in sight due to a long and delayed winter. Oh, and it started pouring rain while we were just about on the furthest edge of the gardens.

Silver lining: Kelly learned she can indeed run if necessary

  • With soaking wet clothes and a 4 hour scenic drive ahead of us (already checked out of our hotel) we naively think we’re going to be getting on the Great River Road. With roads closed, we looped around for about 30 minutes trying to even get to the Great River Road.

Silver Lining: Found the most adorable coffee shop before hitting the road called The Brewed Book .

Fresh coffee was brewing when we arrived and the owner gave us a free cup because he felt we shouldn’t have had to wait for coffee at a coffee shop.

Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours
Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours
  • lunch closed by the time we arrived.
  • Strayed from our itinerary a bit because we missed lunch. Thanks to technology, we found a brewery up ahead with food!
  • Brewery was not a brewery as it was aptly called, rather it was a bar with bar food BUT it was food!
  • Great River Road is open! Kelly shuts off the maps, Dusty cannot stay awake (he works overnights).
  • Great River Road is CLOSED ahead- emergency road closures. Kelly wakes up Dusty to help pull up maps because there are no detour signs- city workers had bigger things to worry about.
  • No cell phone service because we’re in the middle of who knows…. finally get internet and with the detours found out that the last 40 minutes basically consisted of driving around on country roads so we only had made up 15 miles towards our destination
  • Barely made it on time to meet up with family for the first round of family reunion events. Still in our wet clothes.

Silver Lining: had a great time at family reunion #1

  • mansion tour scratched- we were surprisingly exhausted and decided to rest before the next family reunion scheduled later that day
  • Thai lunch scratched (see above)
  • Brewery scratched (see above)

Silver Lining: had a great time at family reunion #2

  • Mark Twain Days in Hannibal, MO not that there was anything wrong with it, we just weren’t feeling the crowds, knowing we were going to head to Dubuque, IA for the return home.
  • Nearly had a car accident with Kelly’s sister and her family turning into the Mark Twain Cave. Both sisters were driving their respective vehicles and both rubber necked at a cute attraction on the left when they need to turn right in 200 feet!

Silver Lining: No car accident!

Luckily we were able to laugh about it and laugh we did! A man stopped to ask if we were OK and that it was not road rage. He heard screeching tires and then saw both vehicles pull in, only to find out we were traveling together.

P.S. The cave tour was great!

Find the Silver Lining When a Road Trip is Full of Detours

We safely made it to Dubuque, IA where we planned to stay for the night. We did have some scenic time along the river for about a 10 minute stretch but by this point we just wanted to get to our next hotel.

Silver Lining: Loved our stay at the TownPlace Suites #SPGLIFE

  • Super roomy and comfortable hotel with a full kitchen and walk-in closet! We only wish we were there longer to enjoy it.
  • Had an amazing Thai dinner at Pete’s Thai Kitchen and were rewarded with free dessert when our waitress found out we were plant-based. We mentioned we’d never had the sticky rice with mango so she treated us. It was divine!
  • Brewery in our parking lot. We were so tired that we didn’t even walk to the brewery that adjoined our hotel parking lot. WHO ARE WE???

That about sums up the low points (and silver linings). We’ll definitely retrace our steps and visit the Iowa/Missouri area of the Great River Road again.

We did not make it home from Dubuque without one last (major) issue. Just south of Mason City, IA our check engine light came on. We needed a tow back home to Mankato. We had to wait 2 hours for a tow truck to arrive on Memorial Day evening around 10pm. Not sure that this is entirely legal, but we rode IN our vehicle ON TOP of the flat bed truck.

We arrived at 1am at the service garage and had to call for an Uber home.

Silver Lining: we didn’t have to arrange a car rental on a holiday weekend to get home!

Another Silver Lining: thanks to roadside assistance on our insurance package, we only had to pay $60 out of pocket for a 114 mile tow!

It was still a great road trip and one we’ll definitely never forget!

Tell us, have you ever had to find the silver lining on a trip full of detours?


  1. Jeni

    October 22, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    What I trip! I was so excited to see you post and love road trip stories. Glad you made it safely home.

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      October 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Jeni! Glad we could give you a good road trip story to read ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Andrew

    October 21, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing your adventure. I’m also a big fan of Marriot hotels and use them often when I travel for work. It is helpful to know of a good one in Dubuque!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      October 24, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Thanks, Andrew! We’d never stayed at this chain before and were very impressed with this particular location! Ask for a corner room, it was like a studio apartment.

  3. Stacy

    October 21, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Oh wow, that was really quite the tripโ€”thanks for the entertaining post!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      October 21, 2019 at 10:44 am

      thanks for seeing the humor in it!!

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