A Day at the County Fair Parade

As mentioned last post we were going to watch the County Fair Parade that is a much celebrated local event.  So celebrated that all County schools and government offices and many local businesses close for the day.  We also heard that the parade was 2-1/2 hours long.  The Rose Parade, I think, is about 2-1/2 hours long, so how can a local small town parade be 2-1/2 hours long?  Let me confirm that it was 2-1/2 hours long.  They filled this 2-1/2 hours with the 4 County High School bands and all associated cheerleading squads, and anyone that could possibly be associated with the band or sports.  I was amazed at how large these bands are.  We sat in a very good spot so when they stopped to play they stopped right in front of us.  There was every little league football team, cheerleading team, and soccer team that exists in the County.  Every elected official and a representative from every police and fire department from every town in the County.  I have always wondered do these Officers that are in the parade, do they volunteer, is it random, or is it rotated so everyone gets a turn.  It seems like some really enjoy it and are waving and others look like they really don’t want to be there, I guess I need to ask somtime.

It was an extremely humid day, thankful that it was cloudy, otherwise it would have been unbearable.  I really felt bad for the kids in the Mascot uniforms.  We made it 2 hours into the parade and it started raining.  We thought it was just going to be a drizzle, but then the skies opened up.  People packed up and ran, we stood under a very large tree (no lighting) and although many went for cover, the hardy moved their chairs from the back row to the empty front row.  You could tell the real true parade watchers, they were prepared with their rain slickers and they just sat there.  The rain did stop and we finished watching the last 15 minutes.  We also moved from the back row to the first row as the parade route had thinned out quite a lot.  I felt bad for the kids at the end of the parade as there weren’t many people left, that is why I wanted to stay.

Coming from a large city I never experienced any of these small town activities so when our town celebrates with these special events I feel very strongly that we should support these as best we can.  We have been to the 4th of July parade and now the Fair parade, I am glad we were able to attend.  Having a full time job I never took a day off to do things like this so although not a major event, it was a “to do” on my list and I’m glad we took the time to attend.  It’s really great to see the kids enjoying this parade and taking the time for preparation and attending.  Some kids probably think this is a stupid thing to do, but I’m glad there are many that are still holding the tradition together.

So as the parade faded into the distance we decided we had two priorities – eat lunch and a bathroom stop.  It had been a long morning and we were hoping to get to our fast food destination quickly, that was wishful thinking.  It took us 45 minutes to get to our destination.  There were traffic jams everywhere and quickly the euforia experienced watching the parade evaporated waiting in backups that I didn’t think were possible in our town.  Finally we made lunch then off to the Fair.  Because I was an Exhibitor (I always wanted to say that) we received free admission.    What would you expect when there is no school, the parade is over, where do you think the town went to, well of course the Fair.  It was packed!  But we found a place to park, and once inside most of the kids were in the Amusement Ride section, which we avoid, so wasn’t as crowded as we expected.   We watched some sheep that were being judged, I find that very interesting, but have no clue why the ones that are first win.  I always think the cows are so pretty, I have the urge to want to pet them.  After looking at the animals and watching the judging, off to the exhibtor buildings we went.

I do have to say that I had high hopes of winning something, but I have to be honest and say I didn’t win nothing, zlich, nada.  I could lie and say I wasn’t disappointed, but I was.  I consider myself a “middler”.   Science fairs at school, being picked for a team, even playing bunco, I’m a middler.  I’m never the top 3, but always in the middle.  I guess that’s OK, and I should be happy I was never last, but you know when you’re a “middler”, it would be nice once in your life to come in first in some contest, no matter how silly.  I say I’m not competetive but I think I’ve become that way because it’s easier to accept the middle.   But what I will say is that it was fun seeing my stuff I brought to the Fair on display.  It was fun knowing that things that my Mom had as a child, or she collected were on display for all to see, it felt good.  Better than being wrapped up in some drawer.  I think she would have been proud that I did this with her things.

So in one day I did two things on my “to do” list, attended the County Fair Parade and had items on display at the County Fair.  It was a good day, and fun traveling down this road.  Until next week, take care, have fun traveling down your road and remember to have fun!



A New Road to a County Fair

At one time in our life’s we probably have all gone to either a County Fair or a State Fair. As a child I remember every August my family going to the Wisconsin State Fair. We lived in Illinois, but because we lived close to the Wisconsin border it was much easier for us to go to Milwaukee, WI then to drive to Springfield, IL, which would have required an overnight stay, so to Wisconsin we went.

I remember the smells, sights, and sounds of the Fair – the fried foods, the animals, the exhibits, and the amusement ride area. Being a city girl it was my one time of year that I enjoyed walking around all the animals. I remember how beautiful some of the Rabbits were, and the cows; how the kids took care of their animals with such love that I wondered how they could ever sell them. It was a lifestyle that I could not relate to, but was fun to see once a year.

We ate all the wrong foods that day, anything that was fried, cotton candy, and popcorn and of course you can’t go to a Midwest Fair without corn on the cob. I remember the beer tents as that was my Dads favorite spot. He wasn’t into the animals so my Mom was the one who usually took my brother and me around to see the animals. We weren’t too fond of the pigs, but were always amazed at how big some of them were, and pretty in their own way.

We didn’t ride too many amusement rides, as my brother and I usually got sick, but we did enjoy one ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl, that usually was enough to hold us for the day. It was an all day event. We left early in the morning and didn’t get back until late in the evening. We were exhausted with all the things to see and do because as we know a State Fair is quite big and you need to cover a lot of ground to see everything. We went to the State Fair for many years, so as I grew older what interested me when I was younger changed over the years, but something new always caught my attention, so a Fair is good no matter what age you are. So if you haven’t been to one, I think you might enjoy the experience.

Well, as an adult we really haven’t been to any State Fairs as we are not close to where they are held so we have been attending our local County Fair. On a scale of 1 to 10 with the State Fair being a 10, I consider most County Fairs about a 3. They are very small on scale, but basically have the same things, just extremely downsized. They have the food, animals, tractor pulls, displays and now as an adult the beer tent! They usually have good music in the evenings. So recently we have been going to our County Fair and it’s been a nice evening out.

While at the fairs we usually go thru the Exhibit halls and I always comment how it would be fun to have something on display, but I never really looked into it. Well this year I did and I am proud to say that finally I have put 4 things on display in the Antiques and Heirlooms exhibit hall. I went this morning and dropped my items off. I was as giddy as a kid thinking I might win a ribbon. How silly, but now I understand after all these years why these kids and adults do this. I am excited and think this is really cool; I have things in a Fair. Now on the grand scale of things it’s all kind of silly, but it is one of those things that was on my list of “to do’s”, and I have now done it. The next step is hopefully I will win something, I’ll let you know. Of course it’s not the winning, but when I go to the Fair this weekend, I’m going to look in the cases this year and smile and say “that’s my stuff.”

In addition to the Fair, the County Fair parade is this Friday, one of those things I have never been able to attend as I have always worked. So we will be at the parade on Friday and I’ll let you know how it is. Until then I went down a new road and I’m excited as a kid, it’s a good feeling. Until next time, enjoy your travels.

Vacation Catch Up and Retirement Adjustments

We’ve been home almost a week now, and I think I’m finally caught up.  I find this rather interesting.  When I worked I was a very “like clockwork” type person.  I was my own energizer bunny and didn’t sit down until all that needed to get done was done.  I was current on everything and quickly worked through  whatever needed to be done.  Plus on many nights and weekends I brought work home, and was able to accomplish that also.

Now almost 1 week later I’m just getting to that point of being caught up, yet I feel I have been very busy.  Have I slowed down that much already?  Am I taking more breaks than I realize?  Am I watching more TV then I should?  I didn’t think I was, but why then are things not getting done?  I have noticed some things I am doing so maybe this is what has led to this week catch up.

Sleeping in later than I probably should, but I feel I deserve a little catch-up on the sleep thing.

Keep getting side tracked.  I am working on one thing.  Walk into another room to get something that I need to finish what I was working on, and while in the other room I start working on something new.  All of a sudden an hour is gone and I still didn’t finish the first thing.

Definitely spending more time cleaning the house.  I did take care of our house when I was working, but I can tell you it has never been cleaner than now.  It seems that every day I’m finding myself cleaning something that probably didn’t need cleaning, but I thought what the heck, get the cloth and clean it.  This is one activity that I’m glad I started as I did feel I could have been doing a better job, but there was never enough time.

I find myself walking around the yard.  Enjoying the flowers and seeing if anything needs a trim or a weed pulled.  Amazing how much time this can take up.

Going to the grocery store during the day.  This is an adventure for someone that has never shopped except for the evenings and weekends.  Just like everyone seems to be on a mission driving to work and back, shopping was like this too.  Working Mom’s, busy parents, they went to the grocery store with their lists, filled their carts and left.  Nope, not weekdays, grocery shopping is an adventure and could take hours.  I haven’t yet been able to control this, I’m still in my previous shopping mode – in and out, so this one is going to take some getting used to.

Meeting friends for lunch.  It is so amazing to sit and have lunch and not have to look at your watch to make sure you’re back to work within your allotted hour lunch time.  It’s just wonderful!

Well, that’s where I’m at now.  I haven’t gotten into any routine yet, and I know I need to, otherwise a month will be going by and I’ll wonder what I have accomplished.  I still need to start my diet and exercise routine, and I need to set some type of schedule for getting things done.  Jumping around like a jumping bean will lead to lots of things getting started but nothing finished.

I am still amazed that I seem to be making this transition so smoothly.  I have no regrets about leaving my job, I’m not bored, I’m not sad, but actually happy, and I seem to be totally enjoying “me” time, something that I’ve overlooked for years.  I am so glad I have taken the time now and have chosen this new road I am traveling.  Until next time have fun traveling your chosen road.

Jefferson City, MO

I’m a few days behind on bringing you up to date, so here I go.

We left the Chicago area on Friday morning and drove to Jefferson City, MO. You say, why Jefferson City? There are no direct Interstates that go there, it is sort of out of the way for the big city destinations, but we chose Jefferson City for one reason, and that was to take the Missouri State Penitentiary tour. Now we all have heard of Alcatraz, but I had never heard of the Missouri prison until I started reading about things to do in the state of Missouri. Befoe I go on I will say that it was worth the extra time and distance to travel to Jefferson City.

The Penitentiary was decommissioned in 2004 and moved about 7 miles out of town to a new faciity. The day we were there they were celebrating the 175th anniversary of the prison. To help correlate the year it was opened, the Battle of the Alamo ocurred in 1836 and that is when this prison was open, amazing. The Alamo is still standing and so is this prison.

Regrettably the Penitentiary has not had much financial support and has been exposed to the weather conditions so it has fallen into disrepair. It is my understanding that portions of it has been torn down and there is an ongoing discussion of what to do with the facility. Once you get by the raw condition of the buildings listening to the history and picturing what it was like you can get lost in the moment.

We had an excellent tour guide, Mike. He was one of the previous wardens of the Penitentiary, how can it get any better. He was a wealth of knowledge and had some funny stories, and also some rather sad ones also. I could have listened to him all day. We took the 2 hour history tour, but there is also a 3 hour history tour, and starting in 2011 they now do ghost tours. I’m really sorry we missed the ghost tour as that sounded like lots of fun and really scary. I believe they have “sleep over” tours, but I would suggest you inquire about this as I’m sure advance reservations are needed and they are only at certain times.

We were able to see 2 cell blocks, one built in the mid-1800’s and the other built in the early 1900’s. Much of the presentation was how prison life has changed over the years, and how prisons were built back then and the changes in building style that occurred. The conditions were deplorable, that’s all I can say. This prison had some famous inmates such as James Earl Ray, and Sonny Liston. In addition to the cell blocks we also saw the “buried cells’, or as I would say the dungeon, and also toured the gas chamber. This Penitentiary did execute 40 inmates during it’s lifespan.

What’s also amazing about this Penitentiary is that it housed up to 5000 inmates at one time, while Alcatraz never exceeded 800. It gives you an idea of the scope of this place, the conditions that existed. If you stood still and closed your eyes while our tour director talked you could actually imagine what it was like. And I can tell you imagine is all I would ever want to do.

Some of you might be saying now, why would I go see this. From my viewpoint, it is a part of history, it was extremely educational and I can certainly tell you that if you were on the edge of committing a crime, once seeing this facility it might make you rethink your direction in life. If was one of the most infomative and enjoyable tours that I have taken and I know much of that was because of our tour guide, he made the tour excellent.

Now, there is one other place you should visit while in Jefferson City and that is the Missouri State Capitol. It is a beautiful building and what is unique about this building compared to other Capitol buildings is the artwork. The Capitol was completed in 1917 and is in downtown Jefferson City, only about 7 blocks to the Peniteniary. On a nice day it is walkable. When the Capitol was built they issued bonds. They were able to complete the building with an excess of about $1 million. Since this could not be refunded they used these funds to acquire artwork both in the building and on the grounds. They have tours from 9AM to 5PM daily (except for lunch) and it is free, it’s about 55 minutes. Once the tour is completed you can walk around the building and go back and look at the artwork in more detail. You can visit the Capitol without taking the tour, but the tour guide provides details that you would not get on your own.

Jefferson City is not a large city but they provide a very good Visitor’s guide that I’m sure you can look at on line also. I hope you consider Jefferson City as one of your future destinations or stop overs, and do hope you enjoy. Check for schedules as this part of the country does get cold and it does snow. I will be posting some photos shortly. Take care and continue traveling safely down your road you are traveling.

A day in Volo at the Antique Auto Museum

This one wouldn’t be bad to have either

Flinstonemobile – could resist the photo op!

A very nice looking Chevelle Supersport 396

Very Nice Car, only upper $70’s for anyone interested,

Munster Mobile

Another retro 60’s TV program

These are just a few of the cars at the Volo Antique Auto Museum in Volo, IL.  This is a far North suburb of Chicago.  In addition to the photos they have a lot of antiques to look at.  So if part of your group wants to look at cars and the other look at antiques there is enough of each to keep everyone busy.  It’s well done and I think you would enjoy your time visiting.

They do have a diner for lunch, but you get a wrist tag, so if you have time, about 1/2 mile away is a fast food restaraunt where you can go and have a good Chicago Vienna hotdog, or Italian Beef. If this is your first time in the Chicago area, please try the Vienna hotdogs, this is truly Chicago.  The place is called Fratello’s and I don’t think you would be disappointed, this is a good lunch spot.

Have fun if you go.  Tonight we were in Joplin, MO after spending the day in Jefferson City, MO and I’ll give you the update in the next post.  Saw some intersesting things and can’t wait to tell you about them.  Also have some photos to share.  So until the next post we’ll be on the road traveling towards Texas.

Last Day Visiting Friends and Family

Last day here in the Chicago area. The weather has changed and it’s one of those cold and rainy days, shorts and tank tops put away and out with the jeans, sweaters and jackets. We had a very nice time while here. We were able to meet with our friends and family, and most visits were over lunch or dinner. So much for starting that diet, still on the “to do” list. We have enjoyed our many Chicago thin crust pizzas, and also our Vienna Hotdogs. Can’t come to Chicago and not have a pizza or hot dog. When I mention Chicago and pizza, most people think deep dish, nope, grew up on thin crust pizza, made round like all pizzas are, but cut in squares.  A round thin crust pizza cut in squares, to my knowledge, is only found in the Chicago area. Boy, do I miss these pizzas and hot dogs! It’s truly amazing when you drive around the area, there seems to be either a pizza place or hot dog fast food place on every corner you go by.

We were able to go to Lake Geneva earlier this week, and today we went to the Volo Antique Auto Museum, which is in the suburb of Volo. They have really expanded and now have 4 buildings of cars, a military building and once done with the museum, they have another 4 builidings of antiques. You can visit the antique stores without going to the auto museum. You only have to pay for the museum, you can just go shopping if you want to. If you do both this is easily a half day. You can eat lunch on site and on the weekends they have a trolley tour you can take. I would suggest a visit especially if you like looking at vintage cars, a very good collection, and all are for sale, so you might want to bring one home with you.

Really enjoyed visiting with everyone, was great catching up on all the family news and seeing the kids. We stayed with my husband’s oldest daughter and his oldest grandson was very nice to give up his bedroom for the week, thanks Zach.

We’re off tomorrow and our first stop is Jefferson City, MO so just a day of traveling with really no scheduled stops. Will update all on Jeffereson City on Saturday, so until then we’ll be traveling down the road…….

Museums in Bentonville, AR

Cyrstal Museum and the Native American Museum, both in Bentonville, AR are excellent and if in the area you should make time to see them. For a small town I was surprised at the quality of these museums and what they offered. Worth seeing both