Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amana Colonies

My third post tonight...

I have found this Blogspot to be very difficult to work with to get text and captions in the right places around pictures so I am officially giving up (at least for tonight). Who knows when I'll have good Internet again so I'm trying to get a lot on tonight.

So here are just a bunch of pictures from around Amana:

Amana is historically fascinating, peaceful, unusual. Most of the buildings are brown, tan, white. That's why this old train depot caught my camera eye.

They were completely communal until 1932 when they voted to separate church and state. They needed more industry so started attracting tourists in 1935 with quality woolens and other crafts. They thrive on this tourism now. We biked to a bakery this morning that has a sign out - Open at 7:00 until day's baking is sold. We were there at 8:45 and there was only one Danish left to be sold. I think they said they sell about 350 items every day.

There is live theater here. We saw Always, Patsy Cline yesterday, a great production about Patsy's music and her sad plane crash death at age 30. Hear her here

I love the names of the Amana Colonies towns – Amana, East Amana, West Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana, South Amana, and Homestead (the town they bought because it was on the railroad track).

This one is from nearby at West Branch, IA - Herbert Hoover's gravesite. Beautiful place.

We'll be on our way again tomorrow but have really enjoyed relaxing here for a few days in dry weather. Now we'll head west toward nephew Brady's state track meet Sat. and to see grandkids by Sun. And, yes, there is rain in our weather forecast in the next couple of days!

Springfield, IL

Springfield, IL - my second post for tonight. Couldn't find my pictures earlier!

I grew up in IL so had already rubbed Abe Lincoln's nose for good luck many, many years ago but this was Gregg's first time... That's Lincoln's tomb behind Gregg - huge and deep to prevent grave robbery. He was not a popular president at that time.

The Lincoln Museum is full of fascinating displays, wax characters, amazing theater shows and lots to think about and ponder on. Springfield has so many museums and things to see and do, I could have spent a week there.

The actual home Abe and his family lived in is restored with much of their furniture and belongings. It is the only National Park in all of Illinois. Much of the neighborhood is owned by the park to prevent the hotels and restaurants from moving onto Lincoln's street.

One of my favorite Springfield tours was of the Dana- Thomas House, a Frank Lloyd Wright renovation of an historic Springfield Victorian home. It is fascinating and has made me want to search out more of his work to tour.

Virtual tour here:

Always the best part of our travels -
searching out friends from the past. Allicent was my college roommate in 1968-69 at WIU. She and Don were dating then. They live in the home that she grew up in - a beautiful, peaceful place.

Catching up...

Catching up on a whole bunch of things...

This is back a couple of weeks ago in a very unique park in S. IL - Garden of the Gods State Park.
We were there the day after this...

Then we spent some time in Springfield, IL and saw my college roommate and her husband, Allicent and Don Smith, for the first time in about 40 years. Had a great time there and got some good pictures but they seem to be temporarily lost somewhere in my computer. I'm sure they'll show up somewhere soon.
Our next stop was Rock Island, IL - the Quad Cities - for our memorial service for Mom. Here we are, sheltered from the storm. Our cousins Joan and Diane from IL and their husbands, our cousin Barb from IN and her Mom, our Aunt Marge from FL joined our family. Diane and her husband Terry hosted a wonderful get-together at their beautiful home in Bettendorf, IA after the service.

Jeri and Bill with Marge and Barb in a
100 year old ice cream shop in Moline.

Next it was niece Kelsey's high school
graduation in Minooka, IL

I love a cap toss - see it here:

We Blakslee girls
Great to have Sarah and Andy there with us

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


See? That's what I mean about the rain. Torrential. That's Sarah and Andy last Friday at my Mom and Dad's beautiful cemetery in Rock Island, IL.

But we have now had 4 straight days of sun and today actually got out of the long pants and sweaters and into summer clothes. Finally!

We had a wonderful time with family at my sister Jeri's house for niece Kelsey's high school graduation. We laughed and laughed at goofy stuff. We shopped and shopped the village-wide yard sales and stocked up on things to give Kelsey for an 18th birthday and Bill for a 50th birthday this week. They actually both liked all their gifts! (Note that, Josh...) It was good to have us four siblings, three of the kids and one of the in-laws (Gregg) together.

Gregg & I spent yesterday in West Branch, IA at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Very interesting man and times, another well-done Presidential Museum. We overnighted in the parking lot for the Fire and Police Depts - they said it was OK as long as we didn't like "move in there". They even had free unsecured wi-fi for us there!!

Today we broke down, for the first time in 2 weeks, to pay for an actual campsite. We are in the Amana Colonies - 7 tiny burgs and no WalMart parking lot for us, of course. Actually I guess it's good for us to pay for this and stimulate the economy a little. Now, nice weather and bike trails here, we'll probably stay a day or two. Can't wait to try the StrudelDoodle coffee I bought here today...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I WISH ...

I WISH ...

... I wish for more hours in a day so I would get more pictures and stories into this blog, for us to remember this trip in the future, and to share with family and friends now.

... I wish I had a camera that would capture smells. I'd get the smell of the lilacs in Illinois. And the flowers in the yard at Dale's house in Charlestown, IN. And the jasmine somewhere along our winding route.

... I wish I could have captured the taste of the root beer that I had in the retro Maid-Rite restaurant in Springfield, IL. OMG, it was good.

... I wish I would have had a recorder going at the memorial service when we had my Mom's urn interred at Rock Island National Cemetery. It rained ALL DAY that day, never let up. The wind blew especially strong while we family, 12 of us, gathered under a shelter. The speakers played a beautiful Taps, accompanied by an extraordinarily long roll of midwest thunder. Mom heard from, I think. We had her wish of one rose on the dais along with her beautiful urn, etched with a hummingbird for her. I think she was applauding.