Heading out of Michigan, we started west towards our next stop of Utica Illinois. For the rest of the trip we will be trying to take more stops along the way. Irene keeps reminding me it's not a race and we should savor each place slowly. Our plan is to stay at least three days wherever we land for the night so driving the RV is minimized. We are trying to take pictures along the way to capture some of the sights, but we are not always at the ready.
Driving towards Illinois we passed through Indiana and southeast of Chicago saw an amazing picture (which we missed snapping). Interstate US I-80 goes across one of the largest quarries in the world, the Thornton Quarry. Its 1 1/2 miles wide and 400 feet deep. Its been there since 1924 and is actively being worked. To build the Interstate they carved out a dryland dike in the middle for the road. Eventually it will be filled with overflow from Lake Michigan. Check it our at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornton_Quarry?.
Since we travelled on Saturday, the traffic was lighter and we reached Utica by 2:30 in the afternoon. All went well until we got off the interstate and I took a wrong turn. Ended up on a single lane road surrounded by corn everywhere. Not to worry. Figured this was Illinois, not Boston and the blocks are probably square so I just kept making right turns and ended up back where I started. It only took 20 minutes and 12 miles of driving. Finally reached Hickory Hollow campground which turned out to be very nice.
On Sunday we opted for more travelling and went to see Chicago. The city has a multitude of attractions and we settled on the going to the Art Institute which had a showing of 19thy century impressionists, although we really went to see American Gothic by Grant Wood. Turns out this was a ways and separate from the main building. We settled for the main exhibit. Lots of bright and pastel colors and different angles of the human body both male and female. There were extensive paintings by Degas. Everyone know him for his famous "Ballerina" painting with tutu, but many of his works involved women getting into or out of their bath. Seems he was the original public service announcer and was trying to encourage bathing! Afterwards we walked a few blocks to the boat basin and enjoyed the many sailboats mooring for the day. Passed Grant park and Millenium Park where lots of families were watching their kids running through the massive water fountains. Topped of the afternoon at the Purple Pig, a wine bar on Michigan Ave.
Monday we visited our friends Judy and Frank O'Shea, meeting them at their new condo in Oglesby Il. Had a great time visiting and catching up. We truly miss seeing them in Florida. They provided us with a relaxing tour of the area and dinner at their summer home in Sublette Il. The place they reside, Wood Haven, is a large park with many, many homes. So large, it has its own grocery and gas station.
Tuesday we travelled to Brimfield Il where Irene's grandfather, Thomas Coyle, Jr, was born and raised. Brimfield is a small farming community of 900 people near peoria Il. We were unsure if there were any relatives left in town, but we stopped at the public library and asked. Turns out that the librarian was personal friends with Kim Coyle, the wife of Irene's cousin, Tom Coyle. After a couple of phone calls, we met them at their home on the family farm. It was the same place Irene visited as a child many years ago. We were welcomed with open arms and met their family for a nice visit. The farm is still worked today and he grows corn and soybeans. The corn is used for biodeisel and the soybeans are exported to China.
For our last day in the heartlands of Illinois we hosted Frank and Judy for lunch before getting ready for more westerly adventures.