Secrets of Jo Daviess County Tour for 2013
June 25-27, 2013
What could go wrong? The forecast was for high heat, humidity, and violent rolling thunderstorms across the entire area, as it had already been all week before this Eighth Running of the Secret of Jo Daviess County Tour, one of our most popular tours, a multi-day tour, and as Rallymaster Dan Herman consistently proclaims right up front: “a driving intensive tour.” Areas we were driving through had received an inch of rain a day for a week, their historical record for June. Roads were going to be flooded and there were even reported mudslides. If we weren’t wiped out by monsoons, the sun might come out and fry us all with the 90 degree heat and 80% humidity. This was the first Secrets Tour to adopt a mid-week format for this three-day event, and yet a record turnout was signed up. Would everybody show up?
For a midweek tour, we lost only a couple of our regulars from years past and I understand only one couple who had signed failed to appear. Yet we had a record 22 cars on this trip: 17 B roadsters as cute as a box of jelly beans, a TR6, a TD, and an A, followed by 2 chase cars. An amazing (and probably amazed!) 5 new couples joined us this year! What was the worst that happened on this trip?
Bugs. That’s only when we got out of the cars. Nary a drop of rain ever hit our windshields during the Tour itself, although I was stalked by a gorgeous, massive thunderhead on the way home from dinner at Breitbach’s (Iowa’s oldest bar and restaurant) after the first full day. When the first drops hit my windshield, I pulled over to put the top up, and then the deluge hit. But it was over by the time I covered the three remaining miles to the Landings (our vintage, charming hotel in the antique button factory overlooking the buggy Mississippi).
That was in Guttenberg, Iowa, our apogee or farthest point. There was also a little rain for some on their way to the Herman's for the opening night cocktail get-together, but nothing major for me, and I came the farthest, from downtown Chicago. Final mileage for me was 685 showing on the clock, from Tuesday 1-2 p.m. departure from downtown Chicago to Thursday 9:30 p.m. back in my garage in Wicker Park.
So we dodged thunderstorms all day Wednesday -- which kept it cool with the cloudiness. I never put my top up throughout the day. Twenty minutes after breakfast in our hotel in Stockton, and a wonderful backcountry drive along Massbach Ridge, we were sipping wine at a winery. Then the driving really started. Like I say, the “secret” of the Secrets Tour is that we get out of Jo Daviess County as soon as possible. This time we lingered a bit longer than in years past, rolling through the great scenery as we passed into Wisconsin. A leisurely lunch and brews followed at Potosi Brewery. Not so bad for a way to kick off a trip.
The rest of Wednesday was relatively light. The planned-for ferry was out due to high water (?!) so we dropped back down to cross the Mississippi at Dubuque, and then passed north up the “river road,” U.S. 52. Taking an MG-drivable rolling side route past our evening’s meal destination of Breitbach’s, we were absolutely stunned at the vistas that then opened before us from the scenic overlook at one of the highest points in Iowa.
Perched on this glorious moraine ridge (which was likely pushed into place at this farthest extent of the glaciers), we stopped for a group photo overlooking the rolling bucolic splendor that is this part of Iowa. As bovine-dappled as the heavenly pastoral scene before us was, decorated here and there by scenic little farms in the distance, the sky was as dappled with spotted cows of thunderheads, each with its own personality, building and rolling along to their destinations eastward. You could see America for miles. It was glorious and we were all awe-struck and delighted.