I had a lovely adventure with two of my very favorite people, Mike Kelly and his daughter, Noeha. We met up at Mike’s house in Freeport and set off for Clinton, Iowa. Mike grew up in Clinton and he and Noeha had many memories to share with me.
We drove through Shannon and I shared my story of when I was a little girl I always said when I grew up and had a daughter, I would name her Shannon. I didn’t name either one of them Shannon. We went through several other small Illinois towns and as we drove further west the terrain became hillier and more beautiful.
I think boulders were a theme of this trip. I love big rocks and spied many along the way. When I was a baby we lived at this house that had a HUGE boulder next to it. I have a photo of myself standing on the boulder. One of my favorite poems is: “This is my rock and here I run, to steal the secret of the sun. This is my rock and here come I, Before the night has swept the sky. This is my rock this is the place, I meet the evening face to face.” David McCord
I confessed to my companions of my fear of heights. I didn’t really want to go overlook the Mississippi River from the peaks above. I had tried that once before and it scared the crap out of me.
We got to Mt. Carroll and Mike took us to Raven’s Grin Inn. It is a really scary building with cars and junk tucked in and around and into the building. I guess you can take a tour of it. It wasn’t open when we were there. I imagine Halloween to be a bit of a frightening party there. I took a bunch of photos and Mike had me take one of him and Noeha and her bulging pregnant tummy.
We headed on down the road and came to one of our destinations – The Heirloom Market and Café in Thomson on IL Route 84. It is a market, seed and plant nursery and café all in one. Their food is all organic and grown outside in their green houses. The serving plates and bowls are made of some kind of palm leaves. The utensils are made from potato starch -- all biodegradable and organic. I loved it!
I had a wonderful garden salad with one cucumber (boo hoo) two tomato chunks, some julienne carrots and raspberry vinaigrette. It was delicious and yes, I licked the bowl the dressing came in. I also had a cup of 9 bean soup. They didn’t have any vinegar on hand so I ate it as it came. It was pretty good but a big splash of cider vinegar would have made it extreme.
Our next stop was at a big park on the Mississippi River where Mike had learned to play guitar and had partied big time as a teenager. It was closed as the road were full of pot holes and so we just chased once around the parking lot. Mike said a lot of German POWs were kept close by here and they used them to build various structures around the park. There were some very nice boulders.
There was a cool cemetery where Mike said his grandparents were buried. We didn’t get to explore that but if Garnet and I go sometime, maybe we will. I just love a good cemetery.
We did the big bridge thing and went to the lock at Dam 13. Mike scared me to death pretending he couldn’t’ stop at the edge and I emitted a mind boggling scream. We thought the guy next to us called 911. The sight was mighty impressive. The pelicans were soaring overhead and landing in the water near the dam. Pretty good fishing I imagine. They tried to coax me up onto the lookout ramp and I had to remind them that I am deathly afraid of heights. I told them they might as well feed me a snake as to get me to climb heights. I’m afraid of snakes too!
We cruised the town of Clinton, Iowa, home of the famous rock star, Mike Kelly of the band Prime Time Live. If you every get a chance to see them, do so. They are so good and so much fun to dance to.
Mike drove by the house where he grew up and just down the street was the ice cream parlor that he would go to for his treats. I suggested we stop and have some ice cream. He turned around in a driveway that had a no trespassing sign and was at a mansion. Noeha pointed out that at one time Clinton, Iowa had more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the USA. There were some huge and lovely mansions and of course, big boulders abounded.
We got soft serve and noticed the walls were plastered with photos of people eating ice cream. I asked our server if she would take our picture and she did. She also took one with her camera to print and put up for the next time we visited. I had raspberry soft serve dipped in chocolate. It was quite good. I usually prefer hand dipped ice cream.
We drove to a downtown area that was quite neglected. There was an old building with a walkway in front and on the walkway were various etched blocks with the names of famous people and companies that had contributed to Clinton’s history. One name in particular and the reason we were here was Clyde Kelly who had lived to 106. He was Mike’s grandfather and I wanted a picture of the block with Mike’s shadow next to it.
I also admired a huge boulder that was nearby and asked Noeha to take my picture trying to steal it. We got a good laugh.
As we were heading back to the river we came across an area with a billion boulders covering the area. Mike stopped and told me to get out and take one. I gave him my mother’s reply. “Mike, if everyone took a boulder, soon there wouldn’t be any left.” Mike got out and stole a boulder for me. It will go into my fairy garden.
We made it back to Mike’s place without any haphazards. I had to look at Mike’s garden as he didn’t know what a plant was that was growing. It was a thyme and a really nice specimen. We gave hugs all around and promised to see each other soon.
On my way home I had to stop and take a photo of one of my favorite trees. I think it looks like a smiling troll or a hairy Gumby. What do you think?