Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVII: A SunFlour Doppelganger and A Room On A Bluff

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July 8, 2017, Lake Bluff, IL-  Today was sunny and the Ozarks gleamed brightly, after last night’s paltry drizzle.  I drove out of Joplin early, as there was no Internet at Tara Motel, and I wanted to get to the Chicago area by nightfall- with an urge to find a campground, somewhere in the northwest suburbs.  I also didn’t know, at that point, whether any northern Illinois friends would have time to visit a bit, on such short notice.

Rolla is one of my favourite towns in Missouri, and became more so, when I found Cupcakes and Cravings.  Here is a coffee house and lunch counter that is a dead ringer for SunFlour Market, which two friends run, in Superior, AZ.  Since one of SunFlour’s owners is from the St. Louis area, maybe there is a connection with this lovely spot.  I had coffee and a sandwich, then bought a cupcake, for later on.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It’s another fun place to browse and pick up a gift, for the lady who has everything.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI can think of a few, for whom this would be the right special occasion cake.

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Once lunch was done, it was time to get back outside, so that Amanda could clean up and go home.  Rolla has a large community park, just off I-44.

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There is much to recommend this beautiful town, whether passing through, or settling down- but enough of the doggerel.

The rest of my drive was peaceful, even in Chicago, where the multitudes practice what my brother calls “the zipper method”- drivers take turns, when consolidating traffic lanes.  This keeps a slow crawl from turning into gridlock, especially at the choke point, on the southwest segment of the Dan Ryan.  One hour after entering the DR, I was looking for a campground in Lake County- but to no avail.  I was just too beat, and By The Way Motel presented itself, at a reasonable rate.  So it is, that I am here, and getting ready for a special event at the Baha’i House of Worship, tomorrow, without having to go further- to Waukegan, or North Chicago.

NEXT: Further reflections on a Holy Day, and camping at Indiana Dunes

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXIII: Great Lakes and Muddy Rivers

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April 12, 2017, Prescott-  Every major transportation route, from airlines to roads, seems to lead to Chicago, or at least within its magnetic sphere.  For me, there is an added draw:  The Baha’i House of Worship for North America, in Wilmette, north of the city.  The House of Worship’s location, overlooking Lake Michigan, highlights the fascination I’ve long had, with the Great Lakes.  I would frequently visit “the Temple”, regardless, but the lake is a draw, in itself.  A few dips in its waters, as well as at Indiana Dunes and Fruitport, MI, have been a tonic, on a hot day. I have also been alongside Lake Erie, in Toledo, Cleveland and Erie, as well as Lake Superior, at Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The lakes are only part of what I have enjoyed about the east central region, between the Great Plains and the Atlantic Coast.  Chicago, as problematic as its internecine battles have been, remains a majestic city.  So, too, does St. Louis, especially with the Gateway Arch, and nearby Cahokia Mounds, highlighting the importance of the confluence of two great rivers.  Speaking of which, Cairo, IL has a special place in my heart, marking the union of the Ohio and the Mississippi.  I have prayed at Trail of Tears State Park, in Missouri and at Scioto Hills, Ohio, for the recognition that mankind is one, and that the Aboriginal nations feel vindicated of their long ago suffering.  I have felt intensely welcomed in Des Moines , in Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, and Rolla (MO), Quincy (IL), Francesville (IN) and Fruitport (MI).  Two of the best meals I’ve ever had, were in Dixon and in Vandalia (IL).

The Indigenous People of the riparian region may have irritated Abraham Lincoln, whose heritage I have honoured, in New Salem and Springfield (IL) and in Hodgenville, KY.  There would, however, not be as rich an overall heritage, for the Midwest, were it not for Cahokia, Chillicothe (OH), Pipestone (MN)  and the remaining nations that grace nearly every state in the East Central swath.  Too bad  that Honest Abe didn’t get to know the Native peoples better.  It may have made a great difference in the fates of their descendants.

I have plenty of family in this vast region- in Avilla and Blue Springs, MO, plus  Jeffersonville, IN.  Friends abound here, as well, in northern Illinois, the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, several parts of Missouri, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, across Indiana, Little Rock, New Orleans, and eastern Alabama.

There remain many parts of the mid-section that pique my interest, from northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to bubbling, revitalizing cities, like Kansas City, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Detroit.

I will be back across, on the way to/from a family reunion, in mid-summer.  It’ll be a fine thing to feel the water, and the warmth of Midwest welcomes.

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.