The 2018 Road, Day 8: A Day of Being Blocked

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June 3, 2018, Lowell, IN-

I set out, in earnest, for the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette at 9 a.m., fully intending to meet a mentor- friend who lives north of there, in a timely manner.  The problem was, I left at 9 a.m. from Carthage, on the west side of Illinois.  I stayed within the good graces of the law, clear to a point about 20 miles south of Rockford, getting there about 1 p.m.

Inching eastward, using a variety of state highways, I got to Wilmette way too late to visit with said mentor-friend.   So, takeaway # 1:  Never stay more than 2 hours from Chicagoland, if the goal is to meet someone in Chicagoland, the next day-even from Saturday to Sunday.  In fairness, the same holds true for New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even Philadelphia, where I will stay in the center of the city, in two weeks’ time.

Other things got done, spiritually. It is my eleventh visit here, and this is the first-and last-time that I have tried to make a same day visit to the Temple, from outside the 50-mile radius.  I also had a lovely full meal at Ridgeview Grill, a wonderful place on the west side of Wilmette, served by engaging and attentive Lisa D.  I think that will be my dining place of choice, in future visits to the House of Worship.

Needless to say, there are no photos from this Day of Being Blocked. I made it to a campsite here, in Lowell, IN, around 9 p.m.  Amen!

Tales of the 2016 Road: A Heartland Independence Day

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July 4, 2016, Francesville, IN- I headed out of Rolla, MO, in the early morning drizzle.  The hapless man who had been asking for sustenance, last night, was sitting outside his room, looking puzzled that I should be heading out so soon.  I had one main destination for the day:  The new Welcome Center of the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, IL- just north of Chicago.  It would take most of the day to get there, so I was on the road by 8 A.M.

The Missouri countryside is always a pleasure, though while I rolled along I-44, towards St. Louis, it was striking how little traffic there was, headed eastward.  It was also fairly easy to head northward, bypassing the downtown area.  Determined to have my main meal in midday, I stopped around 11, at a Hibachi Grill, in Florissant, near the area that was so much in turmoil, in 2014.  Florissant itself, though, is well-manicured and has a prosperous outer countenance.  I hope the same for the surrounding communities, like Ferguson, while being well aware that a lot of hard work lies ahead, yet.  There were only a few of us in Hibachi Grill, at that hour, while the food was plentiful and varied- with almost as many “American” dishes as Chinese.

Crossing the Mississippi, I knew it would be unlikely that I would see many, if any, of my Midwestern friends, today or tomorrow.  One friend, whom I called, was ill.  Others, I knew, had their holiday plans, so I did not contact them.

Chicagoland always has its traffic challenges, and today’s inbound traffic did not disappoint.  As I expected, it took an hour to get from Bolingbrook, on the southern edge of the region, to Skokie, where I turned off the Kennedy Freeway.  It was easy getting to a gas station, filling up the Nissan, and emptying myself, though there was a line for the latter- not surprising, considering that many of us had been on the freeway for, in some cases, three hours.

The Baha’i House of Worship always rises majestically through the trees, once one gets to the community of Wilmette, and close to Lake Michigan.  I’m always comforted by the sight, and by being in the House.  A particular bonus today, though, was the new Visitor Center.  Here are some views of this fine addition to the complex.

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Entrance to Visitor Center, Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette

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Symbols of faith, Visitor Center, Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

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Mini-fountains, Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

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Main Display Hall, Visitor Center, Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

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Garden outside Visitor Center, Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

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More Good News for modern man

I knew it would be way over budget, for me to stay in the Chicago area tonight, and the traffic in the morning would be horrific, besides, so after a serene and uplifting hour in the House of Worship, I headed eastward.  Traffic going out of the city was minimal, but I saw an astounding scene unfolding, across the median, on I-94:  Traffic coming from Indiana was at a standstill, for fifteen miles- clear to the Valparaiso turnoff.  It was too late to even think of calling a young friend in Portage, IN, so I headed south on county and state roads, into the rolling farmland and self-sufficient small towns that lie between Chicago and Indianapolis.

Fireworks programs, in many parts of the country, are organized  by cities and towns.  Here in the heartland, as we saw yesterday in Missouri, families set off their own, with the adults carefully monitoring their younger charges.  In Francesville, where I stopped and got a sandwich and some pretzels, for supper, the display was just starting.  I sat and watched, as a few fathers were giving their families and neighbours a visual treat, in a field on the south end of town.

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Fireworks over Francesville, IN

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Fireworks over Francesville, IN

In all the years that I have experienced Independence Day celebrations, none have been more hearfelt, or more enjoyable, than this time of nibbling chicken salad, whilst watching competing displays from adjoining farm fields, in this solid little town, in central Indiana.

I would go on to Logansport, and spend the night in Manor Motel.  I did get the feeling, though, that I would always be welcome in Francesville, and other little towns along the way.  The heartland is a very warm place.