... continuing story of Melrose to Montana and back to Melrose
Dear friends and family, this e-mail is to update you on where we are and what we have been doing since our last e-mail.
After leaving Indiana we headed for Watseka. Illinois to see the Old Court House Museum. This courthouse, completed in 1866, now displays rooms with memorabilia of the time. There is a parlor with furniture of the 1870s and a Victorian bedroom complete with chamber pots. The jail room and the original courtroom with witness chair, jury box and the judge’s chair was impressive. Other rooms included a kitchen, school room and doctor's office. This was an interesting and informative stop to start our way through Illinois.
Our next stop was not a scheduled one but signs took us off the highway to Eureka College, the alma mater of Ronald Reagan. There are nearly 1,000 pieces on display at the museum. This is the largest collection of Reagan items outside the Presidential Library in California. A pair of cowboy boots, a Golden Globe award, his Hollywood years and his college years are on display. His political life story can be seen in the many letters and documents that passed his hand. Also visible is a piece of the old Berlin Wall. There is a statue of Reagan in a quiet and peaceful setting called the Peace Garden. Since classes were over for this year it was indeed quiet and peaceful.
In Peoria we drove around looking for Tower Park so we could get a ride on the glass elevator. When we finally did find the park the elevator tower was closed. We walked around the park a bit and noticed a maintenance person sitting in his truck. We asked about the tower and he was kind enough to unlock the gate and let us ride to the top. Nice guy, no fee, and a very nice view of the city and river far below.
The roads we drove on were secondary roads so we passed through small towns and farm country. We stopped for lunches in local restaurants or in a park and we were having a great time. Today lunch was in a restaurant where the three of us had sandwiches and the bill was $11.36 including the tip. Casa seemed to be enjoying herself as she sat regally in the car or walked around with her leash on.
We headed for the town of Macomb, Illinois to do the “barn tour”. We searched for the Chamber of Commerce with the information we had but no Chamber. With more questions of the locals, we found out that the Chamber had moved and we were very nicely directed to the right area of town. The barn tour consisted of 30 barns in the surrounding area.We were advised of the better ones and we started our drive to see some of the earlier ones. The Everly barn was built in 1882 and all buildings on this farmstead have been preserved and maintained. The Kugler barn, built in 1918, is known locally as the Prairie View. This barn features contrasting areas of clapboard, vertical siding and loft windows. The most impressive was the round Kleinkopf barn built in 1914. There were others that we stopped at and we got to speak to some of the people on the property. This is lovely farm country and we drove around at a slow and peaceful pace without too much traffic to distract us from the scenery. It is amazing that a barn that is more than 100 years old is still standing yet some of our newer structures seem to disintegrate after 30 or 40 years. Here's to old age!
We spent the evening in Macomb and the motel for the evening was $75.04 including continental breakfast. Motels so far, have been on the average of $78.00. Not too bad divided by three people. A good night!s sleep, continental breakfast and off we go towards Des Moines Iowa. But that was to be in a few days.
We drove through small towns in Illinois before we crossed into Burlington, Iowa. We continued driving through the towns of Danville, Mount Pleasant and Fairfield, through Batavia and on to our evening stop at Ottumwa. Today’s drive netted us 184 miles. Traffic was light and the small towns were cozy and pleasant to pass through. We checked into our Motel 8 and then went to dinner at a very nice local restaurant. Casa, of course, was comfortable in the car, in the shade with windows open. When we got back to the car we realized we had not put our maps in a safe place. Iowa and Nebraska had huge holes in the middle and small pieces of the map were all over the front seat. It was one of the obstacles of traveling with a dog. We should have known better(a lesson learned).
When we got to Des Moines we had to check out the Heritage Carousel. In a little drizzle we found Union Park where the carousel resides. This one-of-a-kind carousel is made in the traditional fashion from wood. There are three rows of animals and a band organ. Not just your usual horses, but a panda, a stork, rabbits, an ostrich, zebra, baby elephant, bears, giraffe, tiger and sea creatures. This carousel, which weighs approximately 32,000 pounds,has 15 tons of wood, iron, gears and wires to move the figures around and up and down. Each wooden animal figure is hand-carved and hand painted with Japanese oils and gold leaf embellishment. The lead horse is always the largest and most ornate. It is always placed on the outside row right in front of a carriage. Check it out next time you see a carousel. Oh yes, we did take a ride with Louise and Donna on trusty steeds and I on a colorful giraffe. They say you can’t go back but it was a fun few minutes of reminiscing for $1.00.
We continued the day’s drive heading towards Sioux City, passing through beautiful farm country. People have told us that there is nothing to see in Iowa but fields of grass and fields of corn. What we saw was the beginning of seedlings just starting to come up from the dry earth. We saw deer, horses and cows that were black, brown and a combination of both. There were newborns that were nursing and some just checking out the areas in quizzical ways. There were rows and rows of rolled haystacks sitting in the sun, and the winds blew across the tall grass like waves upon the sea ending near a huge blue sky. There is much to see if only one takes the time to look. We drove 289 miles that day and our stop that evening was in Sioux City.
We have been on the road eight days and some time tomorrow we get to our original destination of South Dakota. This is much sooner than we expected and so we plan to go on to Montana and Wyoming. More about that later.
That about covers this e-mail. We are having a great time and not speeding through this trip. We have seen almost everything we wanted to see so far, but there is so much more to come. We hope you will continue the trip with us.
Stay well and take care of each other. (I am taking the picture.)
Shirley, Donna, Louise and Casa
To check out the previous E-mail clickhere