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Spring Thaw Road Trip to Dubuque

As local as your Chicago Treasure Hunter likes to keep his excursions, it being spring break, he decided to take the family on a quick road trip down I-20 through the heart of Northern Illinois farmland. We bypassed the popular antique haunts of Galena that draw so many urban Chicagoans, venturing 20 or so miles further west across the mighty Mississippi to Dubuque, Iowa. Any Chicago area local can make the trip in a little more than 3 hours, and the route is literally lined with treasure hunting opportunities – everything from mom & pop shops, to fancy dealer malls and ramshackle private roadside enterprises. Pick a sunny summertime weekend afternoon; it’s the stuff dreams are made of!

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Your humble reporter is no stranger to Julian Dubuque’s namesake city, and enjoys frequenting a toy train shop that has a little bit of everything in the basement. He’s also quite fond of the local mission’s Thrift Shop. Until very recently, there used to be a 2-story antique store of sorts right across the street from Cathy’s train/antiques emporium, but it’s gone. Good riddance! The old geezer who ran the place had been slapping grandiose price tags on garage sale junk for far too long, decades in fact. Seeing handymen finishing out the gutted interior of his former shop this afternoon can only open the door to more positive experiences in the near future. The front door still advertised antiques as the merchandise traded. Let's hope it's under new management.

There are other treasure hunting diversions in downtown Dubuque, of course. Some of the more novel ones are split between ice cream parlors, cafes and craft shops. A ‘new’ used book store was opening right next to the 4th Street Elevator’s closer to sea level end, so we look forward to searching out rare 1st editions within the next few weeks. Visitors should note that Dubuque’s downtown retail scene does not fully open for business until late Spring, when the last few vendors return from wintertime Treasure Hunting forays in the Southern latitudes, particularly Florida and Arizona.

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