Travel on the Side


Down to Chicago for a daytrip to do a little shopping. We parked at Wells & Kinzie, had lunch at Ed Debevic’s – a classic diner with “sassy” waitresses, and then headed up and down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. Then it was over to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) and the Crown Fountain. Then to the Loop, past the Willis Tower (sorry, always the Sears Tower… Read More

Visited Navy Pier in Chicago. Great place to view the Chicago skyline. A ride in the ferris wheel is a must-do!

I’ve ridden the Amtrak train between Bloomington/Normal, Illinois and Chicago’s Union Station plenty of times. I’ve always noticed this patriotic paint job each time I’ve passed by. Been meaning to take a picture–finally remembered today. It marks 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and is at the Canal Street Self-Storage.

Union Station in Chicago is one of the great transportation hubs in the U.S. The next time you’re there, escape the enclosed office-like waiting rooms of the Amtrak area and venture in the beautiful and old Great Hall.

Galesburg, Illinois, a railroad town, is home to Knox College, one of the sites of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It’s also the birthplace of poet Carl Sandburg. I found some great vintage signs and interesting architecture.

Making my way from Effingham, Illinois to Peoria, Illinois, I drove the “long” way and passed through the towns of Vandalia and Hillsboro. Vandalia served as the state capital of Illinois from 1819-1839. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln, then a state legislator, argued for a move of the capital to Springfield. Walking some of the streets I came across an abandoned theater–sad to see. Hillsboro features a nice courthouse square with a Lincoln statue.

Get your kicks on Route 66. The mother road – Historic Route 66, originally ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. On a daytrip, I drove parts of it in the small central Illinois towns of Atlanta, Lincoln, and Litchfield. Atlanta has a cute main street with a large statue of man holding a hot dog who keeps his eyes on things. In Litchfield, you can pop in to the Ariston Cafe,… Read More

Back from a daytrip up to Chicago. Took the Amtrak train from Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. First stop after leaving Union Station was the Art Institute of Chicago. After that, it was a walk down Michigan Avenue, a stop at Cloud Gate (aka “the bean”), a trip to the John Hancock Center observatory, and some shopping.

Chicago is one of the great museum cities and one the greats is the Art Institute of Chicago. You could (and should!) spend a whole day there. The Art Institute has some of my favorites, including American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, Monet paintings, Marcel Duchamp, and of course a few scenes from my favorite movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Decatur, Illinois gets a bad rap. It’s home to a large soy processing plant, so it smells. The locals always say “the smell of money.” Very true. It employs a lot of people. What I found are a lot of local mom-n-pop shops and friendly people willing to lend a hand.