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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Middle America in October

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Here's a trip report from two oldsters retracing steps in Middle America. Until 2 1/2 years ago we lived in places like Illinois and Missouri, moving to the Boston area near family. Several events prompted us to return for three weeks of traveling. Flight from Logan to St. Louis via Chicago and renting a Nissan Sentra. First a couple of days at Giant City St. Pk. in Southern Illinois. Many don't realize how beautiful it is in Little Egypt. We stayed at an historic park cabin which was very nice and ate at the Lodge built by CCC workers. Amazing what the CCC workers accomplished. Giant City has some interesting rock formations and hiking trails. Trees turning yellow and red...as pretty as in New England.

When our family was small we liked to camp in this area, e.g., Pounds Hollow. Near Giant City is town of Cobden on both sides of the RR and we ate at Yellow Moon. Stopped off at Makanda which is just some new age shops along the road. This is apple country and in the '60s the Apple Knockers almost won the boy's basketball championship. Destination for the weekend was Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois Univ. Preached at First Christian Church on their 150th anniversary, theme was "The Turbulent 60s" when I was there...March on Washington and desegregating schools and then the increasingly unpopular Vietnam conflict.

Carbondale is suffering from a downturn as is much of Illinois I fear. So the university's enrollment is off etc. However, a great shopping mall east of town, truly the best I've seen. A present and future tourist destination in C'dale is Walker's Bluff, on a farm inherited by a lady who is developing it into a winery, plus family fun site. Lunch at the entrance at the General Store and then in the back forty is the winery where we relaxed for awhile. By the way, there is quite a wine trail in this area becoming an attraction. Super 8 was just fine for our motel.

On to Potosi, Missouri...and a week at the YMCA Trout Lodge. Wonderful facility with excellent meals though the Road Scholar program (our 38th) wasn't so good. Supposed to be on big bands and fall colors. Well, the Fall leaves were beautiful. Potosi is SW of St. Louis and nearby is Ft. Davidson and Elephant Rocks worth visiting.
But also in the program was a course on wine making including a field trip to several wineries.

A drive to Peoria where we also lived and another church anniversary. Stayed with a friend and met many folks. One of those big church potlucks. I would say Peoria is doing well thanks to Caterpillar. Dinner at Biaggis which I recommend along with Lariat Steakhouse. By now my cold was developing...ugh!

Next stop back in Springfield, MO, where we had retired. You know about Bass Pro and Branson of course. What can I report? Just dining and chatting with friends. Recommend: Coltons, Houlihans, San Francisco Grille. One stop was visiting a class of Institute for Mature Learning at Drury University. We were once active and officers.
All over America are senior citizen learning groups with classes.

Final destination: Wichita visiting family. Son and wife in new house...good chat with grandkids. Wichita has aircraft related industries, such as Airbus where engineer son is now. Several interesting eateries are Tangas Soup Kitchen and Old Town Tasty Shop, both in Old Town.

Heading back to St. Louis...glad to get rental care returned. Big question on Oct. 30...could we land in Boston? Thanks to American Airlines we got a later flight and had no problem. Yes, our apartment had some power outage but no lingering problem. I realize much of the East Coast is suffering from Sandy with disrupted lives and property damage.and pray for recovery.

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Not so exciting I know. Earlier trips this year to Elbe River and Maine etc.

Bill in Boston

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