After our stay at Kincaid Lake State Park, we headed over to southern Illinois on Tuesday and hung our hats, so to speak, at Fort Massac State Park.  I’ve told you about this one before in Cotton, Big Machines, Super Hero, and My Oldest Friend (Days 53 & 54).  We arrived mid-afternoon with no reservation and fingers crossed that we could get one of the walk-up sites.  Alas, someone came in just before us and scooped up the last one.  Plan B was to stay here for three nights and figure out something else for Memorial Day weekend.  The host had to go online to print out a new sheet of availability, and when he did, lo and behold, there were two cancellations for the weekend.  I quickly booked online, and we were set for our entire stay.  (Could the Jones luck be getting better?!?!)  After getting everything set up, we headed out to try our luck at Just Like Mama’s Home Cooking.  This is a tiny, hole in the wall place in Metropolis, but MAN, the food was good.  The loaded fries and green beans were definitely stars.  The chicken was pretty darned good, too.  We will definitely come here on our next trip.  We returned to Petunia and spent the evening relaxing a bit.

MW reminded me that I forgot to give you a little Lake Kincaid tidbit. We were sitting in Petunia late in the afternoon watching a little TV, when we started hearing whining. At first we just thought someone was walking by, but it continued. Through the screen door MW saw a dog. She was the size and shape of a Border Collie, but was totally brown. We tried to ignore her thinking she would return to her home, but after a little while of her trying to come up the steps and whining, I went outside to see if there was anyone around. Nope. I checked for tags and found a phone number while MW got her some water. When I called, a man answered totally out of breath. I asked if he owned a little brown dog, and he said “Oh my gosh! You found her?! Please don’t let her go.” I told him that she actually found us and which site we were in. MW pulled out an extension cord to run through her collar since we didn’t have any rope, and I sat outside petting her while waiting. She laid right down at my feet, but was really watching for her people. It turns out they were hiking with her on a leash. When they got to the lake, he removed it to let her get into the water. After a couple of minutes of water fun, she took off. The lake was a long way from the campground, so he was amazed that she made it that far. I told him that he was darned lucky she had a tag, because she was sweet enough to become mine! She was sure happy to see that truck when he drove up, though. The man was almost in tears when he got there, too. Before he left a woman with a carload of teenagers pulled up to ask if he’d found her. They were hiking the same trail and ran across the distressed man, so they had been driving around the entire park looking for her, too. People can be so amazing!

Wednesday morning I did a bit of work (ugh!) and then we ran a few errands and searched for Lois Lane.  Yes, Lois is still in Metropolis, as is Superman.  Amazingly, there is also a big blob of  kryptonite, although how Superman is hanging out right down the street from that, I can’t say.  Metropolis actually has an agreement with DC Comics to be the “Home of Superman”, and they play it up very well for a small town.  Later after they got off of work we hung out with my oldest friend and her hilarious husband.  (Hi Lori and Jimmy!)  Lori and I met when my family moved in across the street from hers and went to high school together when I was in 10th grade and she was a year behind.  We’ve been in touch since I moved away the following year, but haven’t seen each other in person much.  Now it feels like a windfall, because this is the second time in 8 months!  Since they are in the shopping phase for their RV, they came over to check out Petunia before we went to dinner.  I can’t wait until they buy something, because then we can meet somewhere and glamp, or they can come to the compound in Tennessee and hang out.  That will be awesome!  For dinner we checked out Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis, which was also very good.  The nachos are a must try!  After a great time, they dropped us back off at the park.

Unfortunately, on Thursday morning there were chores to be done.  It can’t be all fun and games.  I went to the laundromat, while MW vacuumed and straightened up Petunia.  We really don’t have to thoroughly clean too often, but vacuuming has to happen A LOT!  My plan was to get some work done while I was keeping an eye on the loads, but it was not to be.  Although I arrived at 6:20 AM, a lady came in right after me to drop off her loads.  She said she was going to go home (across the street) while they washed and come back, but then she started talking to me.  The next thing you know, I’m packing up my folded stuff, and she is still there.  It really was a nice talk, though.  She was 83 and lost her husband 20 years ago.  When she told me about it, she had tears in her eyes.  That is so sweet!  Another young lady came in and joined the conversation a bit.  She was 26, and you could tell this wasn’t the best time in her life.  She talked about losing custody of her child and trying to get into school and subsidized housing so she could get her back.  It sounded like a really tough situation, and she admitted that her decisions had caused it for the most part.  My advice…learn from the past, but focus on the future and take one step at a time, and that’s sounds like what she is working on.  I sure hope she gets things straightened out and the path leads to a better life for her.

After finishing up and getting everything put away, we headed back into town to check out the Super Museum.  Just go to downtown Metropolis, face Superman, and look right and you will see this world-famous (according to their website) place.  It is a private collection of over $2 million (yes you read that right) worth of Superman memorabilia.  The thing I learned, aside from the fact that some people are REALLY serious about collecting, is that there was a Supergirl movie that had Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole in it in the 80s.  I Googled it later and apparently it wasn’t that good and knocked both of them down the career ladder a peg or two since they both won Golden Raspberry Awards for worst actress and actor respectively. Strangely, Helen Slater, who played Supergirl, was nominated for a Saturn Award for best actress. The contradiction means  I may have to check it out anyway.  Next we went to Sissy’s – A Sweet Shop down the street for sandwiches and to use their wifi to upload pics for you guys.  (That is one of the ways I keep the usage down on my MiFi.).  Then we headed back to Petunia to relax a bit and wait to hear from Lori.  When they were off work, we headed to their house across the river in Paducah, Kentucky, then out for pizza at Rocket Fired Pizza.  This was a totally different concept in pizza.  You stood in line to place your order for an individual pizza.  You picked a crust, then a sauce, then cheese, then toppings and it was all put together as you ordered like a sandwich at Subway.  There were plenty of options in each category, and the result was a totally customized pizza.  MW and I both thought the idea was great, and the pizza was delicious.  We rode around a little bit after dinner with them pointing out things in Paducah, then popped in at Bob’s Drive-In (Home of the Fiesta Burger) for a little dessert.  By the time we got back to their house, it was time to head for the hills.

Friday I was up early and got a good bit of work done before heading out to Kohl’s.  When we left home I did not expect it to hit the 90s in May and have been burning up.  I decided to go grab a few summer-weight items to get me through.  After that I met Lori at Big Lots where we wandered around shopping a bit, then went to meet her mom, Jeannie, for lunch at the Mexican restaurant just down the street.  It was a nice visit, after which Lori dropped me back off at Brutus (the truck).  I headed back to Petunia and relaxed for a little bit, then MW and I headed over to Rural King.  (We LOVE that place! There’s one in Morristown, TN, that we hit whenever we are there.)  Next we headed to Lori’s for a delicious dinner of chicken fajitas followed by game night.  The four of us played Pegs and Jokers, which was really fun.  (Lori actually made the game herself using one that someone else had as a pattern.) Before we finished up their friends Carolyn and JT arrived.  Carolyn coached MW on the nuances of the game, which I’m certain was cheating in some way (especially since MW and Jimmy won).  Next we played Telestrations, which we had never heard of either.  It was hilarious, and I will definitely be getting that for us to use down the road.  We had to head out a little after 9 PM to get to the park before closing time, but I don’t think either of us was ready to go.  We were exhausted when we got back to Petunia, though.

Saturday we were up and ready to head out on our adventure.  We met at Lori & Jimmy’s house, and Jimmy once again acted as chauffeur.  After about an hour ride, we were at the Discovery Park of America.  The weather was clear, but hot.  Thank God it was fairly windy.  That and the high number of areas in the shade to sit made it okay.  Other than the heat, though, this place was amazing.  There were exhibits on space, trains, the local native American tribes, artwork, historic buildings, farm equipment….the list goes on and on.  We spent several hours exploring, stopping for a snack at mid-day.  (They had a super thick-sliced bologna sandwich that MW really enjoyed.)  Later in the afternoon we headed home, stopping for dinner at Hoskins BBQ, since Jimmy was jonesing for some brisket.  That was worth the stop, too, as everything was pretty delicious.  Once back at their house, we headed back to Petunia ready for some rest.

The next morning we took it slow and didn’t head out to meet them until 11:30 or so.  The object for today was simple…Potato Oles from Taco Johns.  I don’t know if you’ve had this particular delicacy.  I’ve written about them before, but enough cannot be said.  The four of us are all in agreement that they are surely sprinkling them with heroin or some other highly addictive substance.  Honestly, if you go too long without them, you MUST find them!  You can actually have Potato Ole withdrawal. It’s REAL, people! The manager at the one in Morristown, TN, told me they use their own “secret” spices.  Ummmmm hmmmmmm..sounds like a drug to me!  In any case, MW and Jimmy picked up lunch while Lori and I picked up drinks, then we met back at their house to watch the Indianapolis 500 and visit a little more.  After the race was over, we walked up the hill to check out Jeannie’s place, then said our goodbyes for this trip.  We always enjoy spending time with our Paducah crew.  The laughs just keep coming and everything is laid back and comfortable.  I’m already looking forward to the next visit! We headed back to relax a bit before turning in, knowing that we will be up early to hit the road and beat the bottleneck at the dump station.

We were up and on the road by 6:45 AM with no wait for the dirty stuff on the way out.  (There’s nothing more irritating than having to wait in a long line to dump when you are ready to be on the road, but it is part of the deal sometimes.  Our destination is Saint Francois State Park, south of St. Louis.  I’ll tell you about that soon.

See you on the road!