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In addition to numerous trails, mounds, streams and wildflowers, Effigy Mounds National Monument offers overlooks of the Mississippi River. Here, Tom Briggs, of Longmont, Colorado, takes in the view.

The belated arrival of spring has us pining for the outdoors.

It's time to plan road trips and schedule vacations. But there is more to a good-weather getaway than a week at the lake.

Four Quad-City Times reporters are exploring places within driving distance of the Quad-Cities that are likely to stir your interest. The summer series, which begins today, is a traveler's accounting of places of interest, whether for history, nature, sport or relaxation. Our stories will be accompanied by beautiful photos of the areas being explored, courtesy of the book, "The Great River: 400 miles of the Mississippi."

From June to August of last year, Quad-City Times photographers Kevin Schmidt and Andy Abeyta packed up their gear and shot thousands of pictures along the eastern border of Iowa. The stretch from New Albin down to Keokuk gave the pair ample targets for their lenses.

Reporter Alma Gaul recently drove to the top of the state to begin the series, and she brought back her detailed impressions of what you can expect to find on a similar trek.

We're heading first to the Minnesota-Iowa border. The journey begins on B1.

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