I woke up this morning feeling great; no soreness at all from yesterday’s 2,000 yard butterfly. But, I truly am a Butternut; I am watching the Women’s 100 meter butterfly preliminary heats of the Olympic Trials, on live streaming, split screen, while I am writing this post.
Our arrival day in Crystal Lake was a relaxing and enjoyable one. After a wonderful lunch in downtown Crystal Lake and a stop at Trader Joe’s (love, love, LOVE!), so Laura could shop for dinner groceries, I got in a much-needed and much-craved-for swim workout. Jeannie had recently treated Wayne to a membership at an amazing fitness club (http://www.healthbridgefitness.com) and got me in on a guest pass. I should have brought my camera; this place was phenomenal!
Laura, a gourmet cook, treated us that evening to one of Wayne’s favorites: Spaghetti and meatballs. It was Father’s Day, after all!
The following day, we were off to Galena (www.galena.org ). Laura had told me what a gorgeous and charming place Galena was. I figured it had to be, to warrant 2 ½ hours of driving each way. Wayne likes to drive; especially his new Ford Fusion Hybrid. But, this place must be outstanding to make that kind of drive for a DAY TRIP worthwhile. It was.
Galena was love at first sight. Actually, I was already in love before we got there, because the drive through the countryside was so beautiful; much like New Zealand. It was so green, and, as we drove further north, there were rolling hills dotted with farms that included those classic red barns you see in coffee table books and wall calendars.
Having never been to the Midwest (I had visited 21 states; mostly around the coasts and southern border, but nowhere in the Midwest), I only had a preconceived image in my mind of what the perfect Midwestern town would look like. This was it. Check out this photo on the cover of “The Galenian”: http://galenianonline.com/main.asp?sectionid=2&subsectionid=31 . I could easily imagine spending a month there with Bruce (during the best weather, of course) staying in a rented cottage and spending our days kayaking on the river or exploring the surrounding areas.
Spending the day in Galena was fabulous, though. After a delightful lunch at Golden Hen Café (http://www.goldenhencafe.com ), we browsed the shops lining the main street of downtown. Laura and I both splurged at Galena Garlic Company (www.galenagarlic.com), falling in love with their incredible aged balsamics. We each ordered bottles to be shipped to our home; I couldn’t resist the Wild Blueberry Balsamic, Mango Balsamic, and Cinnamon Pear Balsamic. These flavors, as well as about 25 others were available for tasting and we tasted many of them- straight. Honestly, these were good enough to sip straight! It was almost impossible to resist so many of the other flavors; coconut being one of them. Maybe next time…
(Look at the above photo carefully… What’s wrong with this picture???)
Our plan was to have dinner at One Eleven Main (http://www.oneelevenmain.com) , but we had plenty of time to enjoy before then. So, Wayne took us to the West Street Sculpture Park (www.weststreetsculpturepark.com) ; an interesting collection of found object sculptures created by John Martinson. I will let the pictures speak for themselves…
Questioning Wayne about the location of Galena, in relation to Wisconsin and Iowa, led to something I never expected; a drive to state #23 on my list: Iowa! It was just a 20 minute drive away to see the northernmost section of the Mississippi and Iowa, so off we went! We drove through more beautiful countryside, before continuing by bridge over the Mississippi River into Dubuque, Iowa. Just over the bridge, a short drive, was Riverwalk; a beautifully landscaped coastal sidewalk along the river. There was even a small beach I could walk down to, so I could stick my finger in the Mississippi River water. I was in Iowa and the Mississippi River! (Well, sort of; they didn’t allow swimming or wading…)
We returned to downtown Galena to enjoy a delicious dinner at One Eleven Main. I chose the totally decadent dish of Gnocchi with spinach, onions, mushrooms (extra; hold the bacon), cream, and Romano. Delicious and definitely decadent!
The drive back to Crystal Lake, during the golden light of sunset, could not have been more beautiful.
The farms I had enjoyed on the drive in now took on a golden hue and they just sparkled. And, to our surprise and delight, after it got dark, something else sparkled (or sparked!), as well: Fireflies!
I had only seen one firefly before; out on our community golf course, after picking wild blackberries. (Shhhh, don’t tell anybody; we weren’t supposed to be out there!) And, let me tell you what a delight that was!
Being a Southern California girl, I had never seen real fireflies before. My only exposure to “fireflies” was the fake ones at Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. And, honestly, I thought those were fakes, as in, FAKE. Yes, of course they were fake, but I thought the entire idea of fireflies lighting up like that was fake! I didn’t think they did that!
So, our visit to Crystal Lake and Galena ended in the most spectacular way; driving by fields of fireflies putting on a show for us. It was the perfect end to a wonderful visit; just like the fireworks show that concluded our visit to Chicago. And, the flight home was no less beautiful…
P.S. Thank you for joining me on this journey; I have appreciated your kind comments! If you would like to see more photos from this trip, view the last album at: www.ExquisiteCards.Fototime.com .
Until November, I will be staying fairly close to home; just a short trip to Greenville, SC, to swim in the USMS Dixie Zone Championships. But, don’t be surprised if I pop in now and again with posts on past travels that have yet to appear in my blog!
We thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and having you stay with us. Don’t forget, there’s plenty more to see around here and we’d love to show it all to you and Bruce (and Laura of course). House on the Rock, Field of Dreams, Hannibal, Starved Rock, The Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Lake Geneva, The Mustard Museum, Taliesen to name a few. If you were able to plan a trip in the Fall, you could see nature put on her best colors. Hope to see you soon.
I would love to come back and I know Bruce would love to join me! Budget is the only thing stopping us for this year, but we hope to come out in the future. Thanks for the invitation!
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