I hope my readers had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Travalon and I started it by going to Bonefish Grill on Friday night. Normally I eschew chains in favor of locally owned restaurants, but I had heard they had softshell crabs, and we were not disappointed. They were delicious!
Saturday Richard Bonomo prepapred a multi-course Italian meal, which is something he had wanted to do for years. I volunteered to grill the vegetables for the second-to-last course, which was a great idea because I got to be outside on a beautiful day. The courses were antipasto (meats and cheeses and olives), pasta (cheese ravioli), meat (something called bracciola which was beef wrapped around a hard-boiled egg), my vegetable kebabs (eggplant, onion, peppers in various colors, and mushrooms), and Handy Woman made an intensely chocolate pot de crème for dessert. Tiffy came too, since she was in town for her niece’s high school graduation.
Sunday after Mass and brunch, Travalon and I hit the road, stopping briefly in Mineral Point and longer in Galena, where we hiked up the hill to Grant’s house (the equivalent of six flights of stairs) and explored beautiful Grant Park, which has lots of monuments and a magnificent view of downtown. We went to two breathtaking overlooks, one just along the highway when we were on top of a bluff, and the other one at Mississippi Palisades State Park, where it looked like we could dive right into the Mississippi River. Then we went to Sabula, Iowa, the island we had also gone to last year, and walked all over it. We had dinner at a crazy pizza joint run by old hippies, where the menus were inside of record albums and a folksinger entertained us, accompanied by his big black dog. We even got a free pizza because they messed up our order, so we took the second one to go and had it for breakfast the next day. We headed to our hotel in Savannah, Illinois, where a lot of bikers were staying, and we swam in the pool and then relaxed in the hot tub. A couple of young bikers joined us and told us about Poopy’s Pub and Grub, a biker bar where an 80’s cover band was playing that night. We headed there after showering and had a total blast. The cover band played metal, and when they got done, three black guys put hardcore hip hop on the juke box, but nobody had an issue with that. One really drunk guy sort of told me his life story, except that I only understood about 20% of what he was saying. The chairs at Poopy’s are like toilet seats, only comfortable. I took photos and a video and will post them soon.
Yesterday we headed back to Sabula to see if the marina rented boats, but they do not, so we headed up the river on the Iowa side. We stopped at a state park we had been to last year, and Rodney and I were playing in the water when Travalon spotted a snake swimming toward us. We think it was a copperhead, and they are venomous, but it was a small one. We got out of the water anyway. Then we went to Bellvue State Park and took a stroll through their butterfly garden before heading to their equally breathtaking overlook. We drove back down the bluff to the town of Bellvue and sat in a park by the river, enjoying ice cream and watching pelicans and loons and the prettiest riverboat I had ever seen. It played a jaunty tune on its calliope. We stopped in Dubuque and walked along the Riverwalk, stopping at the winery at the far end to enjoy some food and wine. There was construction on the Great River Road, so we had to take a detour that took us by a town called Holy Cross. We drove into a state natural area, on a long, gravel road that reminded us of the one to Polihole State Park on Kauai. At the end was a ferry; it had been busy earlier in the day, but we got a private ferry ride across the Mississippi to Cassville. They only took cash, but they were super nice and took us across, trusting us to go to the cash machine in Cassville and come back and pay them. After we did, we visited Nelson Dewey State Park with yet another breathtaking vista of the river, then we headed home. We drove through Lancaster and were surprised to see that their courthouse seems to be identical to the one in Rhinelander. I will try to post pictures of both so my readers can make up their own minds about this. It was a fantastic weekend, and we did spend some time thinking about the meaning of the day and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this nation free. That’s really what it’s about, not just the start of summer, as wonderful as that is.