Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beisbol, Pt. IV: Sacred Northwestern Illinois


Mary and the kids at the Dubuque lock. . .

Saturday, August 8: We slept in and didn't get on the road out of Dubuque til after 10am. That meant we wouldn't be stopping by the Mississippi River museum in the old train station downtown; no worries--we'd stopped by Mississippi River Lock and Dam No. 11 the night before en route to our motel room and watched a too-long river barge squeeze into the Lock, executing what the railroaders in the audience will relate to as a "saw by." That wasn't exciting enough for the kids, though, so we left the drama without a resolution.




Crossing over the Mississippi River at Dubuque. . .

A thunderstorm overnight had left the morning air very humid; it was already more than warm outside as the low clouds burned off. We were due at my Uncle Tom and Aunt Susan's place in Naperville, a few hours away, in the early afternoon, and we didn't have much time to sight see as we rolled through Sacred Northwestern Illinois, through tidy little towns that dated from the first half of the 1800s: East Dubuque; beautiful Galena, one-time home of Ulysses S. Grant and a weekend get-away tourist attraction for Chicagoans, judging from the many Bed and Breakfast homes; Hanover; Savanna, on the mighty Mississippi. Beautiful country, too: lush and green and alive and grass and trees and hills and still more corn.
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A nicely restored old home in Galena. Of course, it's a bed and breakfast. . .


Rolling hills and cornfields north of Savanna. . .



Main street in Hanover, a typical small town. . .
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We left the twisting two-lane roads behind at Dixon, hometown of railfan extraordinaires Jim Boyd AND Mike Schafer. . .oh, and boyhood home of "The Great Communicator," actor-turned-US President Ronald Reagan. Everything is Reagan-esque in Dixon: we were driving the Reagan Trail, there is a statue of Reagan downtown; there's an annual Reagan 5K. Try as we might to just continue through town without stopping, the Mitsubishi diverted onto a side street so we could get a quick piccie of the Reagan Boyhood Home. There you go--Dixon, where it's always Morning in Ronald Wilson Reagan's America. Seemed like a nice place, but I'm reminded that Reagan wasted no time after graduating from Dixon High School to leave town and never return.
(Our trip would touch many towns connected with Mid-Western-born US presidents: Denison, Texas, birthplace of Dwight Eisenhower; Independence Missouri, home of Harry S Truman; Galena and Dixon; Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln sat as Governor; and Chicago, one-time home of Barack Obama).
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Reagan boyhood home. All white, as you'd expect. . .
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From Dixon, it was a little over an hour to Tom and Susan's, who were more than kind enough to offer us the use of their finished basement as lodging for the next few nights. And sometime after three p.m., they'd be hosting a family get-together.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Blair,

Some of those shots that you have look like that they would be at home in a movie set!

Paul Bartle

BEK said...

Paulie,
The town of Galena, in fact, has been in several movies, representing "middle America" (if you're familiar with Field of Dreams, which I'm sure you are, it was the town where Ray and Terence went looking for Moonlight Graham). And the Reagan boyhood home is offered as an HO scale laser kit by AMB.

Hey, your Sox are hanging in there. . .but the Rangers don't want to go quietly into the night, either! Should be a great September!

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