Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Another Memorial Day Tribute

 Anyone who knows me or has even read this blog much, knows that I am fascinated by cemeteries. I love walking through them, reading the different headstones and imagining who these people were, how did they die, how had they lived. 
Mt Carmel Cemetery, Morris
DeBoldt Cemetery, Wedron
Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa 

It wasn’t any different on our trip to Illinois in April.
Until we got to this cemetery.
 I couldn’t get out of the car to walk among these headstones. It was much too somber. I would feel like I was disrespecting all these men and women, invading their lives. Their lives had already been invaded enough during their years of service.
Maybe a little late, but yet another tribute to Memorial Day. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What is Memorial Day for?

On the first full day of our vacation in Illinois last month, as we were driving through the city of Marseilles, just before we crossed the bridge over the Illinois River, I spied what looked like a park on the right side of the road. I directed Hubby to pull in so we could check it out. He slammed on the brakes and complied with my wishes.

Turns out this wasn’t really a park. Instead it was the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial. 

Wow. Even now, nearly two months later, I can’t write about this without tearing up.

We all know the Vietnam War Memorial Wall and most of us know someone on it, but the more recent Middle East Conflicts? We are still living through this. This isn’t history, this is current events.  

The inside memorial was closed the first time we stopped, but later in the week, when it was open and we went inside, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t read any of the names or the stories. These weren’t men and women who could have been my parents or even my siblings. These are warriors who could have been my son, my daughter. 

Just like my friend’s son, Ryan, who died in combat in 2009.

What is this holiday we celebrate tomorrow? And what are we celebrating? Life? Or death? Let’s hope at least we celebrate freedom, the freedom that our soldiers like Ryan fought to secure for us. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

And then things got a little weird

Last winter, when we chose our destination for our April vacation, I started looking up different things we could see and do there. Then I had an epiphany. The old Route 66 runs only thirty or so miles away from the resort where we would be staying. Bingo. Hubby would jump at the chance to travel a few miles of the iconic highway. Finally on the third afternoon we were in Illinois, we hit a few of those famous spots. 

In Wilmington, The Gemini Giant at the old Launching Pad Drive-In. 

In Braidwood, we first stopped at the Polk-A-Dot Drive-In. 

As I was walking around, taking pictures of the figures outside, Hubby noticed some squad cars and firetrucks a few blocks away. Pretty soon the road just past the Polk-A-Dot was closed off, and being curious and not shy, Hubby walked over to the office and asked what was going on. A gas leak. That didn’t sound good. 

We walked back to the Drive-In and just before we went inside we could smell natural gas. Hmm. Perhaps the inside of the Drive-In with its open-flame grill was not the place to be. But we bought some ice cream and headed back to the car. 

The next place on my map to stop was the Briarwood Zoo of metalwork animals. It was just past that officer with his car parked in the middle of the road.

Hubby was not willing to drive around the blocked-off city streets to get to it. He also reminded me that it just might not be safe.


Next stop, Godley, aka Scary Town. According to the “Illinois Route 66 Visitors Guide”, the town of Godley has the Route 66 Mining Museum along with Burma Shave signs. The museum was right along the main drag and naturally was closed, but I was still happy to find it. The Burma Shave signs though, nowhere to be found.

According to the book, “Travel Route 66”, the town of Godley is a once booming mining community, with only a few remaining homes. The “Exploring Route 66 Illinois” brochure says that Godley has the K-Mine Park, Community Center, trails and more. Hmm?

So we drove down what looked like the main drag. There were maybe a half dozen small older homes and a couple dozen trailer homes and then at the end of town, there was a new, modern park with all kinds of amenities, a building at the back which looked like a school to us, a community garden plot, a barnyard of hobby farm animals. We asked ourselves, “where did all this come from and who paid for it?” coz the people living in those mobile homes could not afford the taxes on a park like this. 

All we could figure was it had been built on mob-money. Then we started hearing dueling banjoes. So we skedaddled. I didn’t take any pictures of Godley, I was too afraid of the mob 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Seeing Lots of Old Stuff

Back to Illinois we go. After watching the bridge go up and back down, we finally walked back to the Joliet Museum just as it opened.  A lot of history in that building. 
Route 66 Welcome Center too.
Next stop was the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site. This is a mile long walking tour of the ruins of an iron manufacturing plant which ran from the late 1800s into the early 1900s. 

The ruins mostly were only foundations with lots of signs marking what those foundations once held. My imagination soaked it all in like a sponge, while I clicked away with my camera whose battery was running on empty. So empty that on the last picture I took, there wasn’t enough power left to open the lens all the way.
 Our last stop in Joliet was the Collins Street Prison, better known as the Old Joliet Prison, featured in the movie classic, “The Blues Brothers”, as well as other movies which I haven’t seen. Hubby, who works for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, wasn’t nearly excited to visit this place. But he was okay once we got there and started walking around. 
They just don’t build places like this anymore. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What's your DIY project?

 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20 New Living Translation 

Before I headed into my office last night to write this blog, I asked the hubby what I should blog about. He is a very creative man, in his own sometimes warped way, and makes up poems off the top of his head. (Our family classic would be the famous, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the microwave 20 minutes old”, on the night that we ate our entire dinner while the peas waited patiently in the microwave.)

We had been watching a DIY program where these two house-flippers needed to raise the whole house nine feet to comply with flood codes. It looked like a lot of work and I thought the house should just be torn down and they should start from scratch.

Speaking of starting from scratch, about that time, Hubby chimes in with, “write about lifting a house. Write your blog about raising a house in the air.”

The passage above is the first one that I thought of. Maybe they didn’t raise the whole house to get that paralyzed man in to see Jesus, but they did raise the roof.

When Jesus walked this earth as a man, sometimes people had to go to such extremes to see Him or be touched by Him. Once Jesus died on the cross and was raised again, that all changed. Jesus is with us every day everywhere we go. We don’t have to raise the roof or crawl under the house or do anything spectacular to be with Him. We only have to believe and ask Him into our lives and our hearts. It’s a pretty easy DIY project, especially because you aren't doing it by yourself. God's the best contractor there is.

Thank you God for sending Your one and only Son to this earth to save us all. Amen

Friday, May 20, 2016

And the bridge goes up

I’m not gonna lie. This was one of the coolest things we saw on vacation the first week in April.

Because Hubby and I bounce out of bed at the crack of dawn 365 days out of the year, we are up and getting ready for our day by six or seven a.m., even if we are on vacation. The day we planned on going to Joliet was no exception. We left the resort by 8:15 and arrived at the Museum in downtown Joliet an hour later. Unfortunately, the museum didn’t open until ten. The sun was shining and though it was only 34 degrees out, we thought we would take a walk around. 
 We got as far as the Des Plaines River and decided we should just turn back and wait in the warmth of the car. Just then a bell started ringing. Hubby, being the astute man that he is, looked down the river and saw a little tug coming.

 “They’re going to raise the bridge,” he announced. I deftly turned the video on my camera.
I guess I am just easily amused or the little kid in me is fascinated by the simple things in life.

After the bridge lowered, we returned to the car, ate a snack and waited for ten o’clock to roll around. You’ll have to wait until next week to find out what we saw next. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Canal, two bison and my imagination

Here it is the middle of May and I still haven’t shared much of our vacation to Illinois this past April. I am still editing the pictures and trying to decide how many to post here, how much to bore you with. I think I just need to dive in, tell the stories that come to mind and cut myself off when I feel I have rambled enough.

Here we go.

I already wrote about the quaint and historic town of Ottawa. Here is one last picture. 

It is of the I&M canal toll house, or collectors house, which is the little house along what used to be the canal. The caretaker there, or collector, collected the tolls charged along the canal when it was fully operational. Now, only sections of the canal are filled with water, and that mostly for tourism purposes.

This form of transport has fallen to the wayside, in favor of rails and the interstate. Another example of the romance of America having come to an end. I could write much more about it, but that would lead me down the rabbit hole of information I would find on the internet. So I am going to move on. 

Buffalo Rock State Park is part of the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor. The area has quite an extensive history, dating from way before the Canal was built in the 1840s and involving several Native American tribes, missionaries and even a tuberculosis sanatorium.

These two American bison, commonly mistakenly called buffalo, are not original to the park.

One of the things I really wanted to see here was the "Effigy Tumuli". In tribute to the Native American burial grounds, these mounds depict a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and water strider.
 It was ridiculously cold out the day we walked these trails and maybe my mind was just too cold to imagine these animals, but I didn’t see much.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tell Others

“So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” Matthew 28: 19-20 New Century Version

Everyone knows about Christmas and Easter and their significance to Christians. Everyone knows what to do on Christmas and Easter and how to celebrate these holidays. We open presents on Christmas and eat hard-boiled eggs on Easter. And Believers remember how Christ was born in a stable to humble parents and how He died a horrible death on a cross and was raised again.

There’s a third holiday in the church year, which is just as important but much less well-known. This weekend is Pentecost.

All I remember about Pentecost from when I was a kid going to Sunday School is that it was the time when the Holy Spirit filled the early Christians, flames appeared on their heads and they began speaking other languages, languages they had never learned, but now that they could speak them, they could share the Good News of Jesus Christ with foreigners. Just like that the Christian church was born and the Gospel could be spread throughout the world.

Maybe we don’t celebrate Pentecost because we don’t know what to do. No one started any traditions like giving away foreign language dictionaries or setting things on fire. What are we supposed to do to remember the events of the first Pentecost?

Well, you really don’t have to think about it that hard. I think the problem, though, is that it’s not as easy as buying presents or filling a basket with chocolates and eggs. What we are supposed to do with Pentecost is to get out there and tell others about Jesus Christ.

I know that’s out of my comfort zone. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.

Heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts and into our lives, even into our voices so that we can tell others of the saving grace they can receive through Your Son Jesus. Amen.    

(If you want to read more about Pentecost, here’s a link with some good information: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/what-is-pentecost-why-does-it-matter/ )

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Waterfalls Ride

I really want to get back to my April vacation and share all of those pictures from Route 66, several Illinois State Parks, Joliet, Pontiac and a dozen other places. But since I still have not even finished editing those nearly 700 pictures, I feel I should at least clean up where I can.

Thus you get to see more pictures from the ride Hubby and I took up north last week. Since it is still Spring here in the Northwoods, I thought some of the easily accessible waterfalls would be worth the trip. Turns out, I was right. 

I’ve been to Potato Falls four times in my adult life. As a kid it probably came close to that, but I can’t remember all the random rides my parents took us on, and since I didn’t have a camera, I have no record. 

But back to my present life. Of the four most recent stops, there have only been other people there one other time. It’s not that far off the beaten path. And not even that bad a hike to the bottom. And since there is a beautiful upper falls and breathtaking lower falls, well, all I can say is that it is everybody else’s loss and my gain because I rather be there alone with Hubby and Dino anyway. 
Not too far down the road is Copper Falls State Park. About as far off the beaten path at Potato Falls, but because it is a state park, it was crawling with people. Ok, not really, there were two other couples and an entire full-size van of an extended Mennonite family. Also, a big sign near the trailhead – “No Dogs Allowed”. I was ready to get back in the car, demand a refund of my $28 annual state park pass and just go home. Hubby talked some sense into me and he stayed in the “dogs allowed” area while I power-walked the 1.7 mile loop to Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls. 
I even jogged part of the trail just so Himey wasn’t left behind for long. We didn’t check the time, but I was back to the car some 40 minutes, 75 stairs and 60 pictures later. 

Last up was enchanting Morgan Falls. The last, and I believe only, time I was there was in the fall of 2000, when Hubby and I took my son Nick along on the ride and we conveniently and surely totally accidentally met up with his best friend and his family who just happened to be camping in the area and decided to hike to Morgan Falls and the top of St. Peter’s Dome that day as well. 

That fall day however, Morgan Falls wasn’t more than a trickle. This time of year it spilled and splashed into the creek below. 

Though there were two cars in the parking lot, we didn’t run into anyone, except half-way back to our car when we met up with an elderly couple. The woman was already huffing and puffing on the total even ground and they asked if we thought they could make it. What could we say? I lied and said, “Oh, it’s not much farther. You can make it.” Fine medical professional I am. I was tempted to wait at the car to see if they came back out, but there were now more people in the parking lot getting ready for the hike. I suppose I could have asked them to watch out for the old couple and maybe check to see if any of them knew CPR.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lots a Photos

 I love returning to places I visited in the past. I find strength in renewing those memories, even if they are occasionally cloaked in sadness. The familiarity as well as remembering those stories brings joy to my heart.

Hubby and I took a ride up north last week, on a beautiful Spring to hike to some of the waterfalls I had been to years before. Each of these places evokes a string of stories, but for today, you only get the before and after pictures. Coz I love me lots a photos.
At a wayside overlooking the Gogebic Iron Range, October 1, 1994
Same wayside, May 5, 2016 
Potato Falls in Summer 2005
Potato Falls in Spring 2016
Brownstone Falls, October 1, 1994 
Brownstone Falls, May 5, 2016
 Morgan Falls, September 30, 2000
Morgan Falls, May 5, 2016

Now, aren't you curious about all those stories? Except I've already shared them all here. It is up to you to go find them.