We arrived in Illinois last night as the sun was setting and it’s salmon-colored ridge spread across the western horizon in front of us for over an hour. Along the edge of the road and into the distance, windmills turned – large and small.
In Galesburg, we stopped at The Fairfield Inn by Marriott to spend the night. Amazingly, it was on Carl Sandburg Drive, named for the birthplace of an acclaimed American poet and writer and also connected to my own North Carolina.
Early this morning we headed west again, making it to the Mississippi River before we detoured to Rock Island and the Military Base and Arsenal Museum. During the Civil War it served as a holding place for prisoners of war or Confederate soldiers. A Confederate Cemetery is respectfully marked with the graves lined in honorable rows. Further down Rodman Avenue, the only street visitors are allowed on at the base, is The National Cemetery. I may have found the grave of an ancestor but I will need to research more fully to be certain.
Thousands of acres of corn and soybeans later, gorgeously waving tassels or leaves underneath a spectacular sky of banked clouds or fluffy cotton-ball dollops, we stopped for gas and a sandwich and wound up in Amana Colonies!
I could have spent the week here. I didn’t know about this place. Wineries, bakeries, leather shop, fudge store, museum, German Restaurants, arts, crafts, oh my! There will be an entire blog dedicated to the shops and history of this place as soon as I return home. I did take names, pictures, and websites so that you can find it for yourself.
After a wine tasting of the normal and unusual – pinot grigio, and riesling to apple, rhubarb, and dandelion – and purchasing a few bottles to bring home, along with German sausages, mustard, pumpernickel bread, and fudge, we got back on the road for more crop fields and a sky too beautiful to look at for long stretches at a time.
In one particular strip of farm land a sign announcing the exit for towns popped into view and I tried to snap a photo of it as we passed. It was for a place called ‘What Cheer’! Is it possible that a town could be named that? How intriguing!
I’m enjoying this road trip more than I anticipated. I have so many pictures to share that it will take days, and inspiration from the heartland’s wonderful people. We take pride in our southern hospitality in North Carolina, but it is just as warm and inviting in Illinois and Iowa.
We just entered De Soto, birthplace of John Wayne, an American we are all familiar with!
Headed for Omaha and onward to South Dakota!
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