January in Dubuque and the Tri-States was undeniably rough. From a multi-day snowstorm that dumped nearly two feet on the area to a week-stretch of historically cold, subzero wind chills, it was looking as if we wouldn't get any relief until June. Mother Nature has gifted us a reprieve, however: an unexpected stretch of temperatures sitting firmly in the upper 40s/low 50s for the end of January and start of February.

I won't question any convoluted meteorology nor lament the bipolar nature of Iowa weather. I'll just plan on reaping the rewards. For the last two days, I've driven home from work with my window down, and left my bedroom window cracked at night to enjoy the comfortably cool air.

With this mid-winter spring upon us, I thought it would be fun to chronicle a brief list of things you could do in order to take advantage of it. Because, as we know, this isn't the last of the snow we'll see this season, so best to enjoy this while it lasts.

Photo Credit: Digital Team
Photo Credit: Digital Team

1. Visit the Mines of Spain:

I need to take my own advice on this one, but the recently warming weather would make it an ideal time to visit the Mines of Spain in Dubuque. It's located on 1,437 acres of wooded and prairieland pasture, and is the site of the famous Julien Dubuque Monument just above where Catfish Creek meets the Mississippi River:

[...]See the Horseshoe Bluff Interpretive Trail, the 15-acre wetland, creeks, forest, prairies, cropland, meadows, and the Mississippi River from a bald eagle’s view. Picnic with us, go for a hike or cross country ski on one of our many trails, and maybe you will capture a glimpse of a songbird, bobcat, red-shouldered hawk, flying squirrel, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, or various butterflies along the Mississippi River Bluffland. - per the Mines of Spain's website

Photo Credit: Digital Team
Photo Credit: Digital Team

2. Walk the Heritage Trail:

Whether you want to start walking it in Sageville or Durango, the Heritage Trail would make a lovely trip in the middle of this warm-stretch. Located off of Highway 52, the Durango access point, just outside of Dubuque, of the Heritage Trail crosses the Little Maquoketa River:

When the railroad abandoned the line in the 1980s, work began to acquire the land to create the Heritage Trail. Trail segments opened in 1982, with the main corridor (Dyersville to Dubuque) completed in 1986. Since then, more stretches of trail have been incorporated to connect into portions of downtown Dubuque. Today, thousands of visitors traverse the trail each year. - per Travel Dubuque

The Heritage Trail does require a fee, although a day pass is only $2.

3. Make a Trip to the Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls:

I've written about the Leinenkugel Brewery in the past, but a three-and-a-half-hour day trip to Chippewa Falls, WI would be a wonderful way to spend a weekend. Chippewa Falls is an idyllic community, and the Leinenkugel Brewery boasts a delightful tour, delicious food, and of course, thirst-quenching beverages.

You can read more about my trip to Chippewa Falls, WI and see some photos here!

Leinie Lodge Tour in Chippewa Falls, WI

A glimpse of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery in Chippewa Falls: the gift-shop, the brewery tour, the atmosphere, and more!

Gallery Credit: Steve Pulaski

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