We have this family goal. I’ve mentioned it before… We want to get to all 50 states as a family before Harrison graduates. Seems doable, right? We think so. And how do we classify “getting to” a state, or checking one off? Well, if we spend a day there OR sleep there, that qualifies.
I don’t know our current count, but it’s in the double digits. Not too far up there, but we’re working our way through. And now, my focus is more than just seeing places, it’s experiencing them. Like seeing how people live in different areas. Not just going to the big cities because that’s what’s well-known. And not eating at the chains… But the hidden local treasures.
Last year, I had the privilege of spending a week with our former foreign exchange student, Jackie and her hubs. Her hubs had never been to America and his first exposure was flying into Omaha and driving to my hometown of 1500 people in middle America for a week’s stay. Following that week, they spent a week in New York. When I heard their itinerary, I later asked, “well, was your hubs bummed he’d wasted a week in Nebraska after seeing NYC?” And Jacks told me that actually, Nebraska was his favorite part because he felt like he got to really see how Americans live and are. And that has stuck with me ever since. While I have a huge desire (and it’s on my “list”) to see things like the Rockafeller Tree in NYC at Christmas, I also just want for the kids to see America. To ride along the “boring” stretches of cornstalks and talk about how they are well past “knee high by the Fourth of July.” I want them to see places that have little bits of history that make America piece together. Stories of people of the past. And also, the cities to see where we’re headed for the future.
So, back to the story at hand…
On Friday, we received word that one of my little nephews that we were headed to see was down for the count. The barfies had struck. So, we decided to rediscuss our travel strategy.
We knew we would still pack up and leave… The boys were too excited to delay a day. But what would we do with our route?
We determined we’d stay the course but find a different place to hang for our Saturday and see the farmstead on Sunday if all was well on the Homefront.
So, we packed up…
It was the perfect family stop and everyone was happy with the ice cream and the use of liquid cheese. And then, on the road again. We decided that we would definitely be figuring out a way to see Adam’s bro and co and started researching places to stay around Bloomington/Normal Illinois. This would allow us to see the part of the crew that had not fallen to the wayside from the tummy bug and still get to the farm at some point in our travels.
In my search, I stumbled upon an Arcade in a town called Mc Lean. And next to the arcade, sits an Airbnb named, hotel Arcadia — a sleeps sixish apartment-style rental that included some arcade games of its own. So, bin bam boom, we booked it and headed off the beaten path.
And when their cousins came to meet us, we spent a couple hours next door and I discovered that all I want for Christmas is a Pinball machine.
After that, we headed to the park and then, based on my sister-in-laws recommendation, went over to Atlanta, a neighboring community, for dinner at the Palms Grill… A charming diner that also had deeeeeeeeeelicious food. Where I also discovered after similar things appeared on both lunch and dinner spot’s menus, that a “shoe” is a normal thing to find on at a diner… Texas toast, some sort of meat, some sort of delicious cheese, and then bacon. Adam and I split one at lunch and my bro-in-law and nephs alllllll had them at dinner.
An added bonus of our diversion, is that all these towns run down the original Route 66. This made for great history nuggets AND for some reason, we also got to see a reallllllllly ginormous Paul Bunyon holding his wiener.
We all were up until midnight as the boys played away on the arcade games in our rental and we had time to catch up with Adam’s bro.
And then, this morn, we packed up again and headed to their house. I have been dying to visit in person as we haven’t been since they became farmstead owners. They have free-range goats, chickens, geese, ducks, piglets, and the family all pitches in to take care of all the chores, care, and farm life.
To say my boys have been enthralled with it all would be an understatement. And I am in love with the charm of it all… And seeing the boys loving an entire day of fresh air and sunshine.
Today, I experienced milking a goat for the first time, I road on a Moped (also a first. And yes, mom, I wore a helmet and am currently safe and sound), and we haven’t had to worry about the time on the clock all day. It’s been really just lovely.
No, our adventure isn’t a stay at a 4 star yoga retreat in Sedona, or an all-inclusive with an ocean view, but it feels like the getaway our family needed for our current life. And so, to me, it’s been absolutely perfect (and no, I’m not embellishing for social media… You know me better than that).
Tomorrow, we are off to Kentucky to “lift the tree” again. But for part one of the “itinerary”, I’m calling it a huge success… A wonderful time together… And a beautiful adventure. Exactly what this mama wanted.