We were up and on the road at about 8:30 AM heading east. I was excited about getting to spend some time with one of my oldest friends. Soon after we headed out, MW saw an entire field of deer. I only caught sight of a few, though. We guessed that it is either not hunting season or they were on protected land, because they were not concerned about the cars whizzing by. The terrain early in the day was slightly rolling and wooded, but before long it changed to flat farmland. We went through Walnut Ridge and caught a scenic drive north out of Paragould over to Campbell.
According to a mural in town, Campbell is the peach capital of Missouri. We didn’t see one tree, though, so I’m not sure how many peaches it takes to claim that title. We did see a LOT of cotton, though. (This is where my Georgia friends and family jump in and proudly state that Georgia is the cotton capital. They would be wrong. Texas is the cotton capital producing almost three times as much. It isn’t because of the size of the state, either, because their cotton producing areas could almost fit into Georgia. I found the latter out at the Texas State Fair many years ago. Shocked me, because most Georgians just naturally assume that we produce the most cotton, peaches, peanuts, and pecans. The peach state is THIRD in peach production behind California and South Carolina! For pecans it trades off first place with Texas on a year-by-year basis. We can absolutely claim peanuts, though. And the Carters.)
Along the drive we also saw a huge silo. Not as tall as some we have seen, but we could plop our house down into this thing and have plenty of room for a yard width-wise. Along the drive through farm country, we also passed some HUGE farm equipment. Some of it was so wide that it was more off the road than on as it passed. We must be in the middle of cotton and grain harvest season, because there were lots of trucks loading and hauling both.
We crossed the Mississippi into Cairo, Illinois (pronounced k-row). This town has all but died. There is not much industry and the buildings have fallen into grave disrepair. It seems to be a modern Davidsonville in that shipping traffic has declined and the interstate has pulled everything west, so it is withering away. We picked up another scenic route headed north on IL-37 following the curve of the Ohio River. Just north of town we stopped at an overlook to make sandwiches. The sign at the overlook talked about Cairo’s birth and heyday, which emphasized it’s fall even more.
Once again in rolling hills, we passed over a beautiful creek that flowed into the Ohio. Near Grand Chain we rode down to an Ohio River recreation area where we could walk down to the water. There was evidence of recent floods, and the water was very muddy. On the hill there was a beautiful building that looks like it was originally a winery. Sadly, both the building and the grapes were fading fast.
As we were approaching Metropolis, I suddenly realized that I am a terrible mother! Yesterday was my first born’s birthday! I remembered earlier in the week to send her card and gift, so at least I did get that right. The issue wasn’t that I forgot her birthday, but that I forgot that yesterday was the 29th. Keeping up with the day and date is a problem for me since we hit the road. I’m constantly asking MW “what day is this?” I can’t even remember whether it is a weekday or weekend for gosh sakes! My Mom has said for years that it will happen, and now it has. My brain has turned to mush! Ugh! I finally got through to Amber after several attempts to wish her a happy belated and get the update.
We arrived in Metropolis and detoured through town to see Superman. Yes, you heard me. You guys do know that he lives in Metropolis, Illinois, right?! We then headed over to Fort Massac State Park and set Penelope up. It was a nice, big campground that was almost empty. The sites are graveled and fairly level, and they had toilets, showers, and a playground. The facilities were old, but fairly clean.
Lori Grimm and I went to high school together for the year I was in tenth grade (she was a year behind me). My Dad was transferred to Paducah, and her family lived across the street from our house out on Old Mayfield Road. We became instant friends. Later that year my parents separated, so at the end of the school year we moved back to Georgia, ending up in Kennesaw. (That became important for me, because on the first day of the eleventh grade I met MW!) Lori has known me longer than anyone except blood, and she still puts up with me. That right there probably tells you that she is a little off! LOL I’m blessed to have her! She and Jimmy have been married for thirty some odd years, and I’ve loved that big old goof ball since the first time we met.
We checked in with Lori, then headed over to their house around 3:30 PM. Son #3, Connor came in shortly after we arrived, followed by Lori’s husband, Jimmy. The weather was very warm, so after a while we moved the party out to the yard. (We did have to use a little bug spray, because the mosquitos also liked the weather.) Lori’s Mom, Jeannie, came by, then son #1 Ian, with his wife Jess, and their three munchkins, and finally son #2, Ben and his two little ones. It is so hard to believe that they are all grown up, but the evidence is right there. Connor is even engaged! I’m sure Jeannie feels the same way about Lori and me. Ian and Jess took their three trick or treating for a while. (Paducah changed their Halloween celebration to tonight because of the expected bad weather tomorrow.)
A little before 7 PM everyone left and Lori, Jimmy, MW, and I headed downtown for dinner at JP’s Bar and Grill. We sat out on the patio and listened to the live musician. Everything was delicious, and it was a great evening. After visiting there for a while, we walked around downtown looking at the changes since I lived there briefly in high school. Back then there were several stores downtown that people shopped at, but the waterfront and market area were not where you wanted to hang out in the evening. Now it is very beautiful with several shops, bars, and restaurants, and murals all along the flood wall.
Next we stopped in at Dairy Queen for blizzards for dessert, before heading to their house. We made plans to meet for breakfast in the morning (minus Jimmy who would be working), then MW and I headed back to Penelope. MW turned in as soon as we got there, and I finished a blog post and followed closely behind. Once again there was an owl singing nearby. That is such a great sound.
Some more from today:
This morning we didn’t have to rush out because we weren’t meeting Lori until 8:30 AM. The rain has finally come, and it is cooler and drizzly. We met at Gold Rush Cafe in downtown Paducah. When Lori arrived, Jeannie was with her, and we had a nice breakfast. Jeannie had the most interesting thing…a bread pudding waffle. She gave me a bite, and it was pretty darned good!
Next we headed over to Lori’s to drop off Brutus. Lori dropped her Mom off, too, and then acted as our tour guide. She took us out past my old house, the townhouse in Lone Oak where we moved to with Mom, the high school (which is now a middle school), and a lot of other places. The area is really grown up, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to find my way around without Lori. We stopped by Sam’s Club to get some more protein shakes, then popped in at Whitehaven to get some Kentucky brochures.
Whitehaven was our local haunted house back in high school. It was a great big mansion the was rotting away. Of course it was blocked off, and no one was supposed to go there, but I don’t think there was a kid in Paducah who hadn’t gone ghost hunting at least once. They started restoring it a few years after we moved away, and it is now a rest area off of I-24 near the Kentucky/Illinois state line. They offer tours, and the last time we were here, we did the walk-through. They resurrected it and did a great job. It is beautiful.
We drove through a little more of the downtown area and stopped in at Etcetera to get MW some coffee. Lori and I found a cookie there, too. Then we headed back to Lori’s house to relax and visit a bit more.
Before time for Jimmy to get home, we ran down to Taco Johns and Bob’s Drive-In to pick up dinner. Jimmy was scheduled for a procedure in the morning, so he is restricted to clear liquids. We were nice and ate before he got home, but we did rib him incessantly about his broth and jello. We visited for a little longer once he got there, then we said our goodbyes and headed back to Penelope. On the way into the campground, a skunk crossed the road in front of Brutus. That is the first time I’ve seen one wild and not road kill!
This afternoon it started raining on and off pretty hard. By evening it turned to a pretty constant deluge. We mapped out our plan for tomorrow and watched a little TV before turning in.
A few more pics: