Today was spent relaxing at a lake with my high school pal Monica and her family in what’s become the family hub, the area around Huntley and Hampshire, IL. It was a rare treat to spend so much time with Monica, who lives in Alaska, today and at yesterday’s Cubbies game. Read about that here. In addition today to enjoying some water fun at the lake, it was pretty dramatic to see widespread flooding across the northern tier of Illinois on our way back to Iowa.
Our morning started with a big breakfast at Monica’s parents home and then we tagged along to a farm owned by a friend of Monica’s sister Marge. Ross, the farmer, had dredged out 45,000 semi loads of gravel over 4-5 years to create a 25-acre recreation lake. It was unlike anything Dan and I’d ever seen and we’ve seen lots of farm ponds over the years. This was no pond. Ross and his wife Carol have the ultimate summer fun spot in their backyard, complete with a boathouse, a pontoon, a ski slalom course and swimming rafts. We swam and I even tried out a paddle board which is fun but my balance is awful! I never fell but never quite got comfortable standing and paddling.
After a few hours at the lake (where I spotted the cool sign above) it was time to head west. Along the way on Highway 20, we found an antique shop named Celia’s in Eleroy. It was just the right mix of new stuff and antiques and we enjoyed meeting the couple that own the place. I spotted a picnic/harvest table and the price was right so Dan measured it to see if it would fit in our van. It did – barely – so we bought it.
A few miles farther west we stopped in Elizabeth, IL. When I was in high school I talked my parents into letting me take a Greyhound bus to Elizabeth to visit some 4-H camp friends. That was a different era. Today I doubt protective parents like mine would let a 16 year old daughter do that.
Elizabeth was a bustling farm town back then. Today it still super cute but now seemed more like a tourist place where folks stop for ice cream and antiques. The Welcome Inn, where we ate dinner, was not fancy but just the kind of supper clubby place Dan and I enjoy during our little excursions. We had walleye and got heaping salads at a salad bar with soup and bar cheese! Very tasty.
Back along Highway 20 we saw more standing water in ditches and corn fields and bulging out of creeks. When we got to Galena, we noticed people pulling off to take pictures of the water that had spilled from the Galena River. The flood gates designed to hold water out of the historic district had even been closed. We stopped to have a look. Men were using bulldozers and shovels to push water away from streets and sidewalks. It was quite a dramatic sight.
We pulled in at home just in time to say goodnight to Hope. She was happy to see us!
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