Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ancestral Homelands, Revisited

Over the last two days we traveled from Rogers, AR to Milwaukee, WI. It's hard to believe that we were in Texas a week ago. When we were in Texas, we wondered when it would start to cool off--or if it would cool off--on our northward march. Not sure where the demarcation line is, but it's much cooler here in Milwaukee. It was still hot in St. Louis, where we snapped a shot of the arches before we crossed the Mississippi river (for the second time). We'll cross it again when we head for the Dakotas next week.

A few things of note about our last two days on the road. We stopped to get root beers at the site of the World's Largest Rocker on historic route 66. Historic route 66, for those of you who don't know, runs in a much straighter line than either of us can draw from Chicago to Santa Monica. At various points on our journey we have followed it's route, several times in the wrong direction for a westward migration.

We then stop at the Cahokia mounds historic site, just outside of St. Louis, MO. The mounds are the largest archeological site in the Americas north of Mexico. There are mounds like this scattered all over the American Bottom, but the mounds at Cahokia are the remains of a great Mississipian culture, a sprawling city on the flood plains of the Mississippi river. The tallest mound (otherwise known as Monk's mound, because a bunch of Trappist monks took up residence there) has three terraced levels, and from the top you can see St. Louis and a wide swath of the Mississippi valley. You can also see quite a few locals running up the steps for a good cardio workout. It's the perfect place for a self-timer photograph.

We stayed in the glorious little town of Litchfield, IL, where we wanted to eat dinner at Ariston's, a legendary Greek cafe on Route 66, but it was closed on Mondays, so we tucked our tails between our legs, choked back our disappointment, and ate at Pizza Hut, which began our extended meditation on the question: "If you grew up in Litchfield, IL, what do you think you would do?" That question stayed with us through our surprisingly decent breakfast at Denny's the next morning. One of us said they would have done 4-H. One of us said they would have driven a low-slung muscle car.

On our way from Litchfield to Milwaukee, we drove through or by both of our Ancestral homelands (my paternal homeland of Springfield, IL, her maternal homeland of Winetka, IL). We stopped in Springfield, IL to get a coffee at Starbucks and to fill up our gas tank. We noticed a giant smoke stack (a kind of theme out here in the Heart of the Heart of the Country) looming over the town as we got back on the highway. We didn't actually see Winetka, IL, but we waved to it out the window from the I-294 toll road as we zipped by.

We will have more to report about Milwaukee tomorrow. So far it has been a very exciting (and musical) city.


  1. Those smokestacks always told me I had arrived in Springfield. And I used to drive Route 66. Does tht make me historic?

  2. You are extremely historic. Nice to be greeted by smokestacks, eh?