Is it the destination or is it the journey? My husband will tell you he’s all about the journey
and mostly I just want to get to the destination. Sometimes it’s both. Just a few weeks ago I embarked on a road trip or a journey if you will, that took me back to my roots in Southern Illinois and Northern Mid-Missouri.
The main reason for my trip was to celebrate my great-aunt’s 95th birthday but I decided to turn it into a real road trip. I set out on a Tuesday and made my way to Metropolis where I had booked a room at Harrah’s Casino for the night. I came to Metropolis to find my great-grandparents home and their graves. I have an old scrap book that belonged to my great-grandmother with an address of a home where she once lived. Sadly, the house was no longer there, just a vacant lot and apparently has been vacant for many decades. I thought maybe I would recognize some structures from all of the pictures I have from her. Well the pictures were from the early 1900’s and like all things, the town had changed. It looked a bit sad and run down.
The next day I took my time getting to Waterloo, IL, the small German town where my mom grew up and where I lived until moving to Florida at the age of four. I took a two lane road that went through quaint small towns with beer signs hung outside of taverns (I love these types of bars) where tidy little houses lined the main street with beautiful flower gardens.
Once I arrived in town, it took a few minutes to get my directional bearings but soon I was driving passed the familiar buildings on Main Street, the brick bandstand where they still hold summer band concerts and old neighborhoods. As I drove around I felt the nostalgia roll over me. It was strange to return, knowing my granny and so many of others I’ve known my entire life, are no longer living. Surrounded by familiar sights I remembered the fond memories I have of this small yet growing town.
You know you can’t have a good road trip without good wine (enjoy after the driving is done for the day please) I brought along a couple of samples I had received a few weeks ago from Cartlidge and Browne, “The original garage winery”. That seemed fitting for a road trip.
Merlot – 2013
Purple plum and strawberry aromas. Bright and juicy flavors of plum and black cherry. Firm tannins with a dry albeit short finish.
Appellation – North Coast
Alcohol – 13.5%
pH – 3.57
Total Acidity – 0.57
I paired this with a wonderful hamburger I got from the bar at Harrah’s Signature Bar. I enjoyed one glass of wine at the bar while waiting for my burger and fries and high tailed it to my room to enjoy the burger and Cartlidge and Browne.
Chardonnay – 2013
Ripe peach aromas. Creamy and mellow lychee and peach flavors with the slightest hint of butter in the finish. An easy drinking wine on a hot Midwestern evening while watching the fire flies light up the night.
Appellation – North Coast
Alcohol – 13.5%
pH – 3.41
Total Acidity – 0.6
I now have proof that wine keeps you young and is good for your health. I took a picture of my 95 year old great-aunt (who still lives in her own home) enjoying a glass of wine that I immediately posted to Facebook, she was a hit. To protect her privacy, I won’t post here but she’s tipping back that glass of wine.
During my trip I had the opportunity to connect with relatives I last saw when I was too
young to remember, to some who I haven’t seen in over a decade and even some who I only know from their grave sites. The trip actually seemed to be a bit of a cemetery tour as I visited the graves of 3 sets of great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Along the way I learned more about my family history. I visited some family homesteads, some in need of a little attention and one lovingly
restored to its original state of a log house. I really think I should reclaim this property as it sits on 246 acres with beautiful sunny open areas with gorgeous flower gardens. Other areas have been allowed to go back to prairie and provide refuge for the wild life and fowl. Some areas are being reforested (my great-grandparents grew Christmas trees on this property, so this seemed fitting). Given that so much of what I knew as corn fields has been developed into ticky tacky houses, it was nice to know there are still people who believe in preserving the land.
Unfortunately I’m unable to make this an annual trip but I promise it won’t take me 16 years to get back to this town I love.