Summing it Up...

Now, that I'm way on the wrong side of sixty, I feel that being true to self is important. "I yam, what I yam." Kindness and smiles are to be given away. Women are strong. Men are more vulnerable than we believe. Husbands may come and go...but one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVAH live without a corgi or coffee in my life if I can prevent it. Come piles of dog fur or hot water!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tri-State Day Trip...

The corgi kids and I arrived late afternoon yesterday to White Pines State Park in the northwestern corner of Illinois where Jim has volunteered for the third summer as a park volunteer. This is the first summer that I'm not here working with him. Instead, the dogs and I will "visit" and go back to North Manchester to help with family and just be home. Anyway~we had an early supper at the park's lodge last night, then watched National Treasure 2 in the RV. A nice quiet evening.
Today we headed toward the Mississippi River to see for ourselves, what the river was up to since it's been in the news of late. We crossed over big muddy at Savannah; across the blue erector-set bridge into Subola, Iowa. We could see flooded areas, and silt lines with debris, and a flooded campground that we had checked out last year. We saw a huge flock of Iowa, big-bodied, and seemingly out of place. We then headed north, following the Great River Road back in Illinois, which is absolutely beautiful in a folk-art, children's book illustration type beauty. Hills and dales, dotted with picture perfect farms, and fields that appear to be watercolored in different shades of the same color. We oooohed-ahhhed as we continued down the U.S. Grant Memorial Highway until we arrived in Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, Illinois, is a town we passed through last year on our way to Galena. We said then that we wanted to come back and explore, so today we did. Elizabeth got its name supposedly when 3 ladies, all named Elizabeth, saved the settlement and stood up to the Black Hawk Indians. The men of the town were said to be all drunk so the ladies took the situation in hand, according to a local shopkeeper whom I spent a pleasant half hour with. Sally, of Cherry Creek Cottage, has a darling shop with nooks and crannies, full of stuff that women love. It's nestled on the bottom floor of the old Commercial Hotel built in 1894 for the railroad. The refurbished depot (Chicago Great Western) is right across the street, and that's what we were exploring when I spotted the hotel/gift shop. The hotel's upstairs has 6-1 bedroom apartments and Sally is the landlord of them. She has a secret garden in back that she let me explore, and that's where I met Marley a huge golden retriever who loves everybody. (Boy, did the corgi kids sniff me all over when I got back into the car! Thanks Jim for being patient.)
She invited me to a garden party that she is holding this Saturday. It's for women named Elizabeth, and they even invited Queen E, but were told she was busy. They are taking old time photos, and were making the props and backdrops today in a little shed just off the garden. They'll be serving tea and refreshments out in the garden on linen topped tables. (How cool is that?) I won't be going, but she was so generous with her time, and friendliness, and was so open in sharing info about the shop, her history with it, and the town's history.
We drove back to the Apple River Fort (something we intended to see this trip) and saw the prairie meadow, full of wildflowers. The town is full of hills, and houses had to be creative with buildings, and gardens. What a neat, pretty little town.
We loved the roller-coaster back roads of this picturesque part of Illinois, with fields full of oreo-marked cows.
We stopped at the Apple River Canyon State Park, down the road, in the hilly north west part of Illinois near the Wisconsin border. The rocky bluffs, and winding waters of the Apple River had numerous rapids that we could hear as we walked the dogs. The campsites were only $8 a night, but it's only dry-camping, and no shower buildings there. Rabbits were plentiful, and not afraid of cars.
We drove on to Warren on the old Stagecoach Trail, which was full of 1800's buildings from another era. Jim stopped at Hatfield's Hardware, found an off-sized furnace filter for our rv's a/c, and walked out with a free maryjane candy, and a wooden yardstick too. We crossed into Wisconsin, where cheese country billboards advertised their main crop. The land flattened out a bit, and contented cows were seen everywhere. Turning east, we headed back to Illinois, and headed home to our own park, that has been our summer home the past couple of summers. What a nice day. We saw a lot, did some exploring, and realized again, that this part of Illinois is just incredibly beautiful, and full of the nicest people.

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