Monthly Archives: December 2014

Missouri Part I: Danville

We started our month of December in Missouri with our first stop in Danville. The Lazy Day Campground was located just off of I-70, about 1 hour west of the St. Louis Metro area, and about 45 minutes east of Columbia and the University of Missouri. We were also about 45 minutes northeast of the state capital, Jefferson City.

Our campground was very nice. The owners were very friendly and had purchased the place about 20 years ago. It was obvious that they had invested lots of money into the property because the infrastructure and landscaping were so attractive and established. There were about 65 total spots, but there were no more than six other sites occupied during our stay. It seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves for the two weeks we camped there.

We had Sunday Brunch at a Cajun place that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Highway 61 Roadhouse. Joel Olsteen and mimosas, go figure.

We had Sunday Brunch at a Cajun place that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Highway 61 Roadhouse. Joel Olsteen and mimosas, go figure.

Cutest totem pole I've ever seen.

Cutest totem pole I’ve ever seen.

The owners of our campground were big dog lovers, so the dog park at Lazy Day was extra great. Piper and Cessna had tons of room to roam and play chase. Lucky for me, it was a great spot from which to watch the sunrise in the mornings.

The owners of our campground were big dog lovers, so the dog park at Lazy Day was extra great. Piper and Cessna had tons of room to roam and play chase. Lucky for me, it was a great spot from which to watch the sunrise in the mornings.

We stopped at the famous Ted Drewes during one of our daytrips to St. Louis. I got a micro concrete mint chocolate chip.  I can understand why this place is world famous. During the slow months of Winter, the genius proprietor started selling Christmas trees to supplement his income. While we were there, we selected a natural pine swag to put on the front of the Monaco.

We stopped at the famous Ted Drewes during one of our daytrips to St. Louis. I got a micro concrete mint chocolate chip. I can understand why this place is world famous. During the slow months of Winter, the genius proprietor started selling Christmas trees to supplement his income. While we were there, we selected a natural pine swag to put on the front of the Monaco.

Approximately 250 fiberglass cakes are scattered throughout the St. Louis region. They’re placed at notable locations to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis. This one was in the neighboring community of St. Charles.

Approximately 250 fiberglass cakes are scattered throughout the St. Louis region. They’re placed at notable locations to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis. This one was in the neighboring community of St. Charles.

Historic downtown St. Charles.

Historic downtown St. Charles.

Taking a family hike down to the lake below our campground.

Taking a family hike down to the lake below our campground.

We signed 'the wall' at our campground.

We signed ‘the wall’ at our campground.

Our campground had a wall beside the office that was signed by campers. It was fun to read where everyone was from.

Our campground had a wall beside the office that was signed by campers. It was fun to read where everyone was from.

The Shaved Duck in South St. Louis. DDD Restaurant - one of the BEST we have visited. You are looking at French fries topped with pulled pork and rib meat, smothered in special cheese sauce and then topped off with some white cheddar cheese. We dipped our bites in their house-made bbq sauces. This is not all we ordered... it was merely the appetizer!

The Shaved Duck in South St. Louis. DDD Restaurant – one of the BEST we have visited. You are looking at French fries topped with pulled pork and rib meat, smothered in special cheese sauce and then topped off with some white cheddar cheese. We dipped our bites in their house-made bbq sauces. This is not all we ordered… it was merely the appetizer!

The captain of our adventure commemorates our time in the Midwest and anticipates our future heading west.

The captain of our adventure commemorates our time in the Midwest and anticipates our future heading west.

We spotted this outdoor fireplace at the Budweiser Brew House when we were wandering around downtown St. Louis while the temperatures were in the 30's. Seemed like a perfect excuse to sit down and have a drink.

We spotted this outdoor fireplace at the Budweiser Brew House when we were wandering around downtown St. Louis while the temperatures were in the 30’s. Seemed like a perfect excuse to sit down and have a drink.

Gateway to the West

Gateway to the West

We were the only ones parked on the historic St. Louis waterfront on the day we visited downtown.

We were the only ones parked on the historic St. Louis waterfront on the day we visited downtown.

Lewis and Clark are big around here.

Lewis and Clark are big around here.

The Missouri State Capitol

The Missouri State Capitol

The Missouri Governor's Mansion sits high on a bluff above the Missouri River. I can only imagine what the view looks like from those third floor windows.

The Missouri Governor’s Mansion sits high on a bluff above the Missouri River. I can only imagine what the view looks like from those third floor windows.

The Missouri River.

The Missouri River.

Merry Christmas from the Martin Family.

Merry Christmas from the Martin Family.

Downtown Hermann.

Downtown Hermann.

The historic town of Hermann is a popular location for tourists because the German community features several wineries located in the surrounding hills.

The historic town of Hermann is a popular location for tourists because the German community features several wineries located in the surrounding hills.

The Columns at the University of Missouri - a symbol of the Tiger spirit of resiliency.

The Columns at the University of Missouri – a symbol of the Tiger spirit of resiliency.

Jesse Hall (built in 1893) is the main administration building for the University of Missouri.

Jesse Hall (built in 1893) is the main administration building for the University of Missouri.

The Bell Tower of Memorial Union on the University of Missouri Campus.

The Bell Tower of Memorial Union on the University of Missouri Campus.

Our site a Lazy Day Campground.

Our site at Lazy Day Campground.

Crossing the Mississippi River, again.

Crossing the Mississippi River, again.

Illinois Part I: Effingham

Effingham. Doesn’t that sound like a cuss word? I think it does. I had lots of fun with that joke for the two weeks we stayed at the Lakewood Campground. When we got up in the morning, I demanded Mike make me some Effingham coffee. Then the Effingham water pressure was bad. We cleaned the Effingham kitchen after dinner. That joke never got old for me.

Actually, that joke was pretty much the highlight of our stay in Effingham… aside from Thanksgiving. Effingham is an agricultural community in the middle of southern Illinois where I-57 and I-70 intersect. The population is only about 12,000. There wasn’t a lot to see in the area (most farm fields look the same after awhile). The weather was cold and gloomy during most of the two weeks we were there, so we didn’t get out too much. After arriving to our new campground, we realized we completed the Eastern Time Zone back in Indiana, and had made it back to Central Time with this stop in the Land of Lincoln. I was excited about the change until I realized I had to make another adjustment for the time change just like I did a few weeks earlier when Daylight Saving Time came into effect. Sunsets at 4:30 PM are not invigorating. The early darkness just makes me want to be a lazy sloth.

We just did normal and boring things while we were at this stop. We ran some errands; got haircuts; Mike got a blood test to make sure his thyroid works properly after his surgery. We did grocery shopping and had a nice Thanksgiving. During the times when the weather did clear, we tried to take the dogs for nice walks. One of the hike & bike trails in town was closed for deer hunting season, so that option was eliminated. Another day we went to a Nature Center on the outskirts of town. The trails were so wet and muddy, we both had to throw away our tennis shoes when we got back home!

We took only one road trip to the small town of Vandalia, which was the state capital for a brief time in history. We planned on spending the afternoon walking around town and exploring all the small town businesses. When we arrived we found a downtown that was one block long, and had about three businesses open. Needless to stay, our “afternoon” outing turned out to be a 15 minute pit stop. I was so discouraged after that daytrip, I didn’t suggest we go see any other sights for the rest of our Effingham stay.

 

The weather was cold and miserable while we were in Effingham, so we only got to have two campfires outside. Repeat after me: "cabin fever".

The weather was cold and miserable while we were in Effingham, so we only got to have two campfires outside. Repeat after me: “cabin fever”.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Even though we were alone in a strange location, I was not inclined to skimp on our turkey day dinner. Thank goodness Mike is willing to eat leftovers for days on end.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Even though we were alone in a strange location, I was not inclined to skimp on our turkey day dinner. Thank goodness Mike is willing to eat leftovers for days on end.

Our neighborhood geese enjoying an icy Thanksgiving morning.

Our neighborhood geese enjoying an icy Thanksgiving morning.

Thanksgiving morning at our campground.

Thanksgiving morning at our campground.

It snowed most of the night before thanksgiving.

It snowed most of the night before thanksgiving.

Our campground was on a little lake on the outskirts of Effingham. The sunrises and sunsets were very peaceful.

Our campground was on a little lake on the outskirts of Effingham. The sunrises and sunsets were very peaceful.

Most of the people who stayed at Camp Lakewood drove in at dusk and stayed one night while en route to another destination. The place was basically empty by 9:00 in the mornings until new folks began to arrive around 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoons. Since we were there for the long duration of two weeks, the campground manager gave us the 'best' spot. Not much to look at, but the building beside us ended up blocking lots of wind. Actually, the campground had 80% of its water hook-ups turned off for winter... so with what was available, this spot did turn out to be a good one.

Most of the people who stayed at Camp Lakewood drove in at dusk and stayed one night while en route to another destination. The place was basically empty by 9:00 in the mornings until new folks began to arrive around 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoons. Since we were there for the long duration of two weeks, the campground manager gave us the ‘best’ spot. Not much to look at, but the building beside us ended up blocking lots of wind. Actually, the campground had 80% of its water hook-ups turned off for winter… so with what was available, this spot did turn out to be a good one.

After we FINALLY finished eating our Thanksgiving leftovers, Mike made fried chicken for dinner. He makes the best fried chicken - which is unfortunate for my thighs.

After we FINALLY finished eating our Thanksgiving leftovers, Mike made fried chicken for dinner. He makes the best fried chicken – which is unfortunate for my thighs.

Since we were cooped up in our warm and dry house during most of our stay, Cessna watched lots of Cesar the Dog Whisper on television.

Since we were cooped up in our warm and dry house during most of our stay, Cessna watched lots of Cesar the Dog Whisperer on television.