GUEST BLOG: by Mr. John
We woke up at the crack of dawn, packed up the trailer, threw the kids in the back of the van, and headed off to Chicago with a couple of stops on the way. First stop was Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith was martyred. In spite of the violence that happened there, we were able to feel a sense of peace and it was emotional being the only people there hours before it opened in the quiet morning. 10 minutes later, it was back on the road, needing to put some miles behind us before breakfast.
Which brings us to our first encounter with Steak n' Shake. It was a fun diner-style restaurant with great road food. I then realized we were only about 10 miles from a colleague of mine, Jeff, that works for an independent minor league baseball team, "The Normal Cornbelters". Yes, that's the real name. This was a great seatbelt break for the kids as we got to take a tour of the stadium and run around on the field.
The road then took us north to the birthplace of my grandfather, Wilmington, IL. Wilmington is definitely a one horse, one street town. It was a nice stop when Route 66 went through it, but once the highways opened up all around it, the town quickly became obsolete. We visited some ancestor's graves and then we showed the kids the location of my great-great grandfather's brewery. My gggrandfather's home and daughter's home are still there and in great shape, the car? Not so much.
We decided to look for further information at the Wilmington Library and found some great details about the history of the brewery and homes in local history books. The drawing above was in one of the books with a full description of the interior. The picture below of my gggrandfather's brewery was hanging on the wall of the library!
We left Wilmington for Bolingbrook, where Liz's friend Krista and her family live and where we would be staying the next two nights. Along the road I learned my cousin's husband died of kidney cancer and were holding a wake that evening. I felt strongly since I was so close, I should attend to support my family. Even though the circumstances were sad, it was wonderful to reconnect with my cousins that I love so much. It was bittersweet circumstances and I was really glad I was able to be there.
I came back to the Barber's house and met some lovely cookiers... But I'll let Liz fill you in on that.
We stayed with Krista of Cookies with Character. She is an unbelievably talented cookier and artist who I chat with often... but whom I've never met in person. I was so excited to finally meet her while on my way through Chicago, but instead of just meeting up for lunch, she invited us to stay at her house and take a break from the trailer. We got to stay in her beautiful home, meet her two adorable kids, and wonderful husband Kevin. They were so welcoming, and the kids LOVED playing with Madi and Jack. We heard nonstop laughter from the 5 kids playing together. I felt like I've known Krista forever and that no time could be long enough to catch up on everything.
She was nice enough to host a cookie get together and we got to spend some time with Penny (of Lucky Penny) who's 2 cute kids joined the kid party, Sally (of Sweetiedoodle), and Jill (of Custom Cookies by Jill). The five of us sat around the kitchen table, ate pizza, and talked about everything from cookies (duh!) to how to kill unwanted trees. Ha! It was a blast! Penny brought me the most gorgeous set of Chicago themed cookies. I love the Chicago cookie with all the sights of Chicago, and that she piped Lucky Penny as one of the highlights! I totally agree! Perfectly piped, she has such perfect, clean technique and great graphic punch. And look at the Wrigley Field sign!!! My name in lights! So perfect!
What a fun cookie gathering! We had to break up the party eventually and I was so glad we could hang for a bit.