Illinois

First, an apology for my Missouri entry.  I must have been tired and grumpy.  It was our ninth day on the road, and I get tired and grumpy sometimes.  My comments were more a reflection of me than of the state. 

Outside St Louis we visited Shanon, the wife of one of Andrea’s cousin’s sons.  We always enjoy spending time with her and this was no exception.  We went with her to visit her mother-in-law, the widow of the cousin.  Anna is 92 and now in a nursing facility, ready to join her husband.  It was a sweet, sad visit.

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Heading through the city toward Illinois, we didn’t stop at the arch.  (Or is it The Arch?)  We’ve both been there before, and we were ready to be on the road.

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Once across the Mississippi we did stop at the Cahokia Mounds, earthen constructions from more than 1,200 years ago.  The mounds are the largest archeological site north of Mexico, and the archeologists say they were built as part of a city that at one time had 20,000 residents.  That such things as these mounds still exist always amazes me.  We spent time in the interpretive center but didn’t climb the mounds.  (We didn’t take any pictures.  The mounds are far more impressive in person.)

Then it was east across a section of flat, flat land to our motel in Effingham, in south-central Illinois.  To me, Effingham always sounds vaguely like swearing.  We had extra time but were too far south to visit the partially-restored town of Nauvoo, on the Mississippi, from which the Mormons set off for Utah.  We were too far north to visit the wonderful National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  And just out of reach was Springfield, with its lovely Lincoln Home National Monument in the center of town.  No, we were just stuck in EFF-ingham.

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But actually, Effingham is interesting.  It is at the junction of two major interstate highways: St Louis to Indianapolis and Chicago to Memphis.  It has what they claim to be the largest cross in North America, erected on the edge of town.  (There’s another somewhere else that’s taller but it has a shorter cross-piece.)  Next to our motel is The Firefly, a restaurant that uses locally-sourced and organic food as much as possible — something really unusual in this part of the country.  We didn’t eat there.  I know we should support such places, but we’re on vacation.  We went into town to experience middle-America at the Gabby Goat.  When in Rome …

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