Flashback Funday: Kankakee River State Park

Saturday, May 21 was a warm and sunny day. I know from my three years on Earth that you don’t always get nice days in May. And when that nice day in May is also on a Saturday, you have to get outside and play! You definitely can’t sit around in the house all day.  It was time to figure out where to go today!

"Let's get out there and explore!"
“Let’s get out there and explore!”

We don’t usually plan our adventures in advance, preferring a more spontaneous modus operandi. You never know what kind of fun you’ll get into that way! Besides, Levi and I like to be surprised. We like living in the moment! After some Internet research and some discussion between MaMa and Pops, we agreed to check out the Kankakee River State Park, in Bourbonnais, IL.

Since we all knew the drill for a day trip, it didn’t take long for us to get in the car and be ready for the quick ride down to the park, which is located in both Will and Kankakee counties.  It’s 4,000 acres in size, so it’s no wonder it’s located in two counties. One just couldn’t contain it!

"Let's blow this pop stand!"
“Let’s blow this pop stand!”
"Come on already, geesh!"
I’m always ready first!

The car ride to a new destination is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Levi is usually whining and crying out, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?!?’ He actually starts that up about 3 minutes after we leave the house. He isn’t much for delayed gratification. I happen to love the car ride. Probably because I get to sit up front on MaMa’s lap. That’s definitely one of the advantages of being a small dog!

Riding in the lap of luxury!
Riding in the lap of luxury!

The surroundings where the park is located was home to a number of different Native American tribes, including the Illini, Miami, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Chippewa and Potawatomi between the 1670’s and the 1830’s. After 1832, when the Potawatomi ceded their land along the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers to the United States, most of the Native Americans left the area. It was eventually settled by a group of French Canadian fur traders. Later in the 19th century, an amusement park opened, which drew crowds from Chicago until it closed in 1920. After that, it became a popular location for summer cottages. The area along the Kankakee River became a park in the 1930’s when 35 acres of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer, a Chicago area philanthropist. The rest of the land was donated later by Commonwealth Edison.

Since the park is so big, and encompasses land on both sides of the river, we had no idea what we would find when we got there. MaMa had read about a number of different trails, including a three mile trail along a tributary of Kankakee River, called Rock Creek. That trail goes through a gorge along cliffs! We didn’t end up on that trail though, mostly because we had no idea how to find it! Maybe next time we go, we will do a little bit more planning, because those cliffs sound exciting!

Instead we ended up walking on a trail that ran right along the river, which was also pretty cool! There were a lot of great river smells!

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Remember to watch your step!

Along with the interesting smells there were plenty of cool things to check out. You just have to be careful walking around though, because lots of people fish along the river, and at one point, I got caught up in some fishing line! Luckily MaMa got me untangled, and after that I was more cautious about where I put my feet.

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"I wonder if they've got any fish in that boat?!"
“I wonder if they’ve got any fish in that boat?!”

Since it was such a pretty day, Levi and I insisted on sitting for a photo shoot. The backdrop of the trees and the river just couldn’t be beat!

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Levi worked all of his angles that day! BOL!!

The day soon turned from warm to really warm, and we decided to find a place to sit in the shade. Luckily there are lots of trees and shady places to sit near the river, because after exploring, sitting is my favorite thing to do!

"This spot looks like a good place for a sit."
“This spot looks like a good place for a sit.”

When it was time to venture a little further along the river, I decided it was too hot to walk, and that’s when I got to go for a ride in my Outward Hound dog sack! It is the perfect size for me to sit and relax with my little head hanging out, while MaMa does all the work!

"Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!"
“Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!”

Considering the park is 4,000 acres and we only walked about one mile before turning around and going back, we will definitely need to visit the Kankakee River State Park on another day. The gorge and cliffs sound really cool, and I bet that we’d get some pretty neat pictures there too! But until then, pictures of Levi and I enjoying the area along the river will just have to do.

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My overall assessment of that park is…more information is needed, so we will be back! Knowing how much more there is to see there is reason enough for us to make a return trip.

Awesome Arizona Adventure: And We’re Off!

Soon after we returned home from our Route 66 Road Trip, I started sending subliminal messages to MaMa about going on another, preferably longer, family vacation. I’d heard her and Pops talking about his dad’s house in Arizona, and that sounded exotic and exciting to me, considering I’d never been out of the Midwest. It definitely seemed like a place I’d want to visit, so I started sending Arizona vibes to her. It wasn’t until January that MaMa finally picked up on my messages, and mentioned another road trip to Pop. MaMa had never been to Arizona either, and she was really good at convincing Pops that we needed to take a longer vacation together as a family. Levi and I had shown her how well we could behave in a hotel and for long stretches in the car. In early February, Pops consented, and it was time to do some planning! Levi and I were so happy, because we’d had quite enough of the snow and cold by then and were ready for a some desert warmth!

We're ready for a warm-up!
We’re ready for a warm-up!

They hemmed and hawwed for a couple weeks about the best time to go, and it wasn’t until mid-February that they decided on early March. We hoped for good weather because you just never know what you’re going to get in March, considering it is still Winter. MaMa also wanted to go before it got hot in Arizona, since that wouldn’t be good for me or Levi if we were too hot to explore! Since time was running short, MaMa had to be diligent with her online research, but with her experience, she easily found hotels for us to stay at on the way out there, and on the way home. With that done, all we had to do was wait the few weeks until the big day arrived. It seemed like forever, as time always drags when you’re looking forward to something, but finally it was time to hit the road!

Since we had so far to drive, we had to wake up super early and hit the road by 3:30AM. I’d never woken up that early and was not very happy about it. But then I remembered why we were up so early. I laid under the table and watched as MaMa and Pops hustled in and out of the door, carrying all of our luggage. Pops spent a lot of time the night before making a cozy place for Levi and I to hang out in the back of our rented GMC Denali. They decided to rent a car for this trip, because it was a little bit bigger than Pops SUV, it was a brand new 2016 car and had a lot fewer miles on it too. Not for long though, as we were about to drive many, many miles in the next nine days! Over 1,000 miles on the first day alone! We had to make it all the way to Amarillo, Texas, which meant we had 15 hours of driving ahead of us, not to mention stops along the way. The stops along the way are the most fun and memorable part of a road trip, as we’d learned while traveling Route 66 last October.

"Ugh, what time is it? Oh yeah, it time for vacation!"
“Ugh, what time is it? Oh yeah, it’s time for vacation!”

Soon enough we were in the car, and on our way. It had snowed a little bit the night before, but not enough to slow us down. If anything, it gave us extra incentive to get out of Illinois as fast as possible! We didn’t want to see anymore of the white stuff for a long time!

I don’t remember much about the first few hours of the trip, because I was sound asleep for them. But once the sun rose, I woke up and took my position up front. It was time to give MaMa a break from being co-pilot, and help Pops navigate his way down Interstate 55.

"Are we there yet? HaHa, just kidding!"
“Are we there yet? HaHa, just kidding!”

Before too long, Levi was up too and I reneged on my co-pilot duties to sit in back and have a chat with him. We both agreed it was going to be time to make a stop soon.

Road Warriors!
“Umm guys, we have to pee!”

So, we made our first of many rest area stops, and to be honest, there isn’t much to say about that. It sure was a relief though!

Not much to see here, just trucks for miles!
Not much to see here, just trucks for miles!

When we got back in the car, I heard MaMa and Pop say that we’d made really good time and Missouri wasn’t that far away. My excitement started to build when I started to think about everything I had to look forward to. This was going to be an epic day, filled with many firsts for me and MaMa. Levi and Pops had taken this drive before, but never with us ladies. It was bound to be an adventure for all of us to remember.

We’re so happy to have you along for the ride!

Next stop, The Gateway to the West!

 

 

 

 

 

A Better Day at Goodenow Grove

Have you ever visited a good place at a bad time? That happened to us this summer when we headed out early one morning to check out Goodenow Grove Forest Preserve in Beecher, IL. Despite the title of another blog post, A Good Day for Goodenow, it really wasn’t that good of a day to visit a forest preserve. Even though we tried getting there early to beat the heat, it was still too hot to walk. I mean literally, I kept laying down, and MaMa had to carry me if she wanted to go anywhere. Also, when we tried to find some shade and decided to walk around a pond in the woods, the bugs were ALL OVER Levi. We ended up calling it a day well before noon, and said, “We’ll have to come back here in the fall!”

So that’s what we did this past Saturday. We got a later start this time, but it didn’t matter because the weather was much cooler, and this time MaMa was prepared! More about that later…

After a pleasant drive through the country we finally arrived at Goodenow Grove. We knew we wanted to check out the longest trail at the preserve called the Plum Creek Greenway Trail, but first decided to take a quick walk around the area surrounding the Nature Center. As usual, Levi took the lead!

Levi Pitboxer loves checking out new places!
Levi Pitboxer loves checking out new places!

While out on our jaunt around the Grove, we saw a group of people having a party at one of the two pavilions available to rent for an event. Near the larger pavilion is a 40 foot hill used for sledding in the Winter. They even have sled rentals if you don’t have your own. I wonder if they let doggies sled down that giant hill?

A great sledding hill! But I'm not ready for snow yet!!
A great sledding hill! But I’m not ready for snow yet!!

Before heading out on the trail, MaMa wanted to check out the Plum Creek Nature Center, mostly to find out if they had a bathroom. There are two permanent outhouses (one by each pavilion), but if you have the option to use indoor plumbing, you should always take it (so says MaMa)! As we were walking towards the door, the man working behind the desk waved us inside. MaMa popped her head in and said, “We can bring the dogs in?” and he said, “Yeah, bring them in!”

We were so excited because it’s not every day that we get invited in somewhere. I guess we are kind of like vampires that way. We need to be invited before we can enter a building!!

I was so excited to check out somewhere new!
I was so excited to check out somewhere new! I broke out in a spontaneous dance!

I was dancing and Levi was rolling around on the floor. We really know how to make ourselves at home!

Levi Pitboxer enjoying a good roll!
Levi Pitboxer enjoying a good roll!

Once we were finally settled down, we took a good look around the place. We saw stuffed birds and animals, rocks, books, a living snake and lizard, and lots of activities for little kids to create and have fun!

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The Nature Center had so much to look at, but it was a beautiful day and time to explore the outdoors. What I didn’t know was MaMa was prepared to go on a long walk this time, and was going to make sure I didn’t hold her up! I wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or elated. But either way, my secret is out. I’m officially a spoiled, little baby princess with her own little carriage to ride in!

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It turns out I really enjoy being rolled around in my carriage. I was able to chill out, not get too tired or hold up the group, and MaMa didn’t hurt her back by picking me up and carrying me. Also, I could see all of the same great sites, but with a brand new perspective. The only thing MaMa would have done differently was choose a long trail that wasn’t made out of natural limestone. She said she got a real workout that day pushing me for miles on that lumpy, bumpy surface!

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While out on the trail we saw some horses having their lunch in a grassy meadow, in addition to a horse being ridden that went right past us on the trail. If there is one thing Levi likes less than squirrels, it’s horses, and he got really worked up after seeing them! Since I get worked up when Levi is worked up, nobody was able to take a picture of the horse on the trail, but Pops did get some nice pictures of the ones just chilling in the meadow.

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Look, he’s marked with a D for dog!

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Since Levi’s panties were all in a bunch, Pops decided it would be a good time to take a break and sit in the shade and just relax for a bit.

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Levi really couldn’t get his mind off of those dang horses, so MaMa gave him a good scratching, which always seems to clear his mind because it feels so good! He really liked it!

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While Levi was getting his rub down, I took a look around at all of the beautiful trees. There weren’t too many leaves that had changed colors yet, but it was still a nice, peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the fabulous fall day that we’d been blessed with.

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Check out Levi in the corner, wondering where that horse went!

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After our nice break, Levi told us it was time to go and chase after some horses! And what Levi wants, Levi gets!

"Come on guys, I have a horse to catch!"
“Come on guys, I have a horse to catch!”

Back we went the way we came, and I really took advantage of being in my carriage and this time I lead the charge! “Onward!” I said, “Let us go forth and conquer whatever crosses our path!”

"Faster, faster, we have horses to capture!"
“Faster, faster, we have horses to capture!”

I had such a good time that day and look forward to going back again. This time it really was a good day for Goodenow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Fun in Frankfort!

This morning we had to get up and out the door early because MaMa scheduled an appointment with a furnace technician to clean and check the furnace, so it would be all ready for winter. They gave her a 9am-12pm timeframe. It’s now past noon and they haven’t called or shown up, so she is about to cancel the appointment, and find someone else. Don’t mess with MaMa, I always say!

Anyway…

Since we had to be home (we thought) by 9am, we needed to keep our morning adventure local. We spend a LOT of time in downtown MO-town (i.e. Mokena), and wanted to mix it up a little bit today. We decided to visit nearby Frankfort, which is where my MaMa grew up many years ago.

Historic downtown Frankfort is so pretty and the town is all decorated right now for fall making it even more picturesque. Early morning is a great time to visit and take pictures, because none of the shops are open yet (and there are LOTS of cute shops), and you’re not likely to run into too many people. Of course, we always see another dog or two and some runners and bike riders, since the Old Plank Road Trail runs right through the center of town. Other than that, it was really quiet and peaceful this morning.

After parking near the Frankfort historical society museum, we walked up Kansas street, which was completely devoid of any traffic whatsoever! We made sure we looked both ways too!

GiGi and Levi on Kansas Street.
Look both ways before standing in the middle of the street!

Once we were certain there was no traffic in either direction, we determined it was a safe place to set up for a photo shoot. I decided it was the perfect time for me to work on my different facial expressions! Can you pick a favorite?

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I can be rather expressive when I set my mind to it!

After a while, Levi grew tired of waiting on me, and barged into my photo shoot! He said the people want some variety to spice up the pictures. I guess I can see his point, and we DO look pretty good together!

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Yin & Yang are at it again!

We didn’t stay there long because just down the street and around the corner is Chew on This Dog Barkery, our favorite shop in town! Every time we visit Frankfort, we hightail it to their door. Little did we know it wasn’t open yet. Foiled again! MaMa and Pops had other ideas though. “Let’s set GiGi up for more pictures!” Uggh, not again, I thought. I mean, I know I’m cute, but seriously! I could feel my annoyance at the situation deepening and refused to look directly at the camera. That is my secret trick when I don’t want my photo taken. I just refuse to cooperate. Some might call me a Diva! But I don’t care!!

"Nope, I will not pose for you!"
“Nope, I will not pose for you!”

Once again, Levi wanted in on the action. He can be a real camera hog. But don’t call him that! He’s put on a few pounds and takes offense at being called a hog. BOL! Of course, he looked right at the camera, so I had to point and laugh at him for being putty in their hands.

He thinks he is so cute!
He thinks he is so cute!

Once we finished up at the shop and were convinced that it wasn’t going to open up just for us, we took a quick stroll around town, enjoying all of the fall and Halloween decorations. The old homes in town are a perfect backdrop to the spooky decorations!

Finally we ended up at the Breidert Green, which is where they put on concerts in the summer, along with a lot of other fun events throughout the rest of the year. We’ve spent a lot of time there in the past, but there was a new addition that I simply had to check out. A giant pile of wood always gets my attention, and this particular pile was giving off heat, even though it wasn’t on fire. I have no idea how they do it, but it sure was a nice place to warm up my little bum!

Giant sticks...for me to chew on!
Giant sticks…for me to chew on!
Maybe I'll just warm my bum instead.
Maybe I’ll just warm my bum instead.

It was almost time to go home to make sure we were back for the furnace appointment, but not before taking one last picture on the Green. In the background is the Trolley Barn, a fun place to shop or get a treat. We’ve never been inside, but hopefully one day we’ll get the chance. MaMa said there is an ice cream store inside. I need to get me some of that! Pops said they have popcorn too. Yummmmy!

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Notice I’m still not looking at the camera!

It was a fun morning! We sure are lucky to have such a pretty place so close to home. Thanks for the fun fall morning and for being a beautiful background for our photos, historic downtown Frankfort. We WILL be back!

The Grainery is a historical landmark and the tallest building in town at 132 ft. tall.
The Grainery is a historical landmark and the tallest building in Frankfort at 132 ft. That’s 131 feet taller than me!

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: A Handy Dandy Explorer’s Index

Previews and links to every stop on our Route 66 Road Trip.

Planning a Route 66 Dog-Friendly Road Trip

 

Route 66 Adventure: A Giant Sighting and Zombies Galore

Route 66 Adventure: Pas De Deux

Route 66 Adventure: Stars & Cars

Route 66 Adventure: Funky Funks Grove

Route 66 Adventure: Atlanta Antics (and giant hot dogs!)

Route 66 Adventure: Sugar Creek Covered Bridge

Route 66 Adventure: Even Explorers Need to Sleep!

Route 66 Adventure: Pink Elephants & Other Oddities

Route 66 Adventure: Minor Detour

Route 66 Adventure: It’s Just Water Under the Bridge

Route 66 Adventure: Route 66 State Park

Route 66 Adventure: Hanging out in Cuba & the Devil’s Elbow!

Route 66 Adventure: The End of the Tail

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: The End of the Tail

It was day three of our Route 66 road trip and it was time to head home. We had done so much, and seen so many cool and iconic attractions! I had been to parts of the country I would have never imagined I would visit when I was living as a tobacco shop pup, chained up all day, kept in a crate at night, and only taken out for quick walks to do my business, never allowed to explore or go on adventures.

And here I was now, just a little more than a year after MaMa rescued me, waking up in a motel room in Missouri! Not only that, but I had just been taken on a road trip down a portion of the most famous road in America. How appropriate that I had been down the Mother Road with my MaMa (and brother and Pops)!

Where am I? Oh yeah, Missouri!
Where am I? Oh yeah, Missouri!

After Pop loaded up the car and we got on the road to head home, I looked at Levi and I could see he was sad that our short vacation was over. It turned out that he liked having a travel buddy to share adventures with, and he, like I, didn’t want our road trip to end!

Levi was sad that our road trip had to end.
Levi was sad that our road trip had to end.

Just as Levi and I were lamenting the end of our adventure and dreading the long and boring drive back on Interstates 44 (Missouri) and 55 (Illinois), we heard MaMa and Pop in the front seat discussing possible places to stop on the way home! They weren’t planning anymore Route 66 stops, but instead were looking for parks or natural areas we could stop at close to the highway. MaMa remembered reading about a lake in Litchfield, Ill.  She didn’t have much information, but experienced explorers (like I was becoming) know that sometimes the less you know about a place, the greater the adventure!

So, homeward we progressed, but knowing we had at least one fun place to stop on the way made the prospect of vacation ending a little less bittersweet.

When we arrived in Litchfield, we drove around a bit aimlessly until we saw a sign for a Lake Lou Yaeger boat launch. That sounded promising and turned out to be a pretty place to hang out and enjoy the lake view for a while.  MaMa and I sat and enjoyed looking at the lake, while Pop took pictures and Levi checked out the grass!

We all relax in different ways!
We all relax in different ways!
Levi Pitboxer loves rolling in the grass any chance he gets!
Levi Pitboxer loves rolling in the grass any chance he gets!
This IS the life!
This IS the life!
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Levi finally got up and took a look around.
I have a great view from up there!
I have a great view from up here!
Pretty place for a family photo.
Pretty place for a family photo.
One last look around before getting back on the road.
One last look around before getting back on the road.

After enjoying the lake and stretching our legs, it was time to hit the road again and get a little bit closer to home before making another stop. MaMa drove this leg of the trip, so Pops was left in charge of finding the next place to stop. Lucky for us, he is excellent at finding places to explore! He found a great place to stop called the Railsplitter State Park (also known as the Edward R. Madigan State Fish & Wildlife Area) along Salt Creek in Lincoln, Ill., just 30 minutes north of Springfield on I-55.

We found a nice trail right along the creek and did some exploring in the woods. Some of our favorite adventures are in the forest, with all of the trees, and other plants to smell and this one had a creek for even more sensory pleasures!

Levi loved checking out the creek!
Levi loved checking out the creek!
There is so much to check out!
There is so much to check out!
I wanted to see what was going on too!
I wanted to see what was going on too!
Enough of that, let's check out the rest of this place.
Enough of that, let’s check out the rest of this place.
Let's see where this trail heads.
Let’s see where this trail heads.

We took our time at this park because it was the last stop before heading home, and none of us wanted our little adventure to end. To think, it had all started just because MaMa watched the movie, Cars by herself one night and decided that Route 66 looked like something that would be fun and interactive for our mixed species family. And she wasn’t wrong, as it definitely offered adventure for both humans and canines alike. Something else our little trip did was convince MaMa that we are all meant to travel together! Knowing how well Levi and I behave on road trips allowed her and Pop to plan other trips that we’ve taken since this epic journey down the Mother Road. I hope you will take those trips with us as well as I relive them in future blogs.

Looking forward to our next trip. Thanks for the memories Route 66!
Looking forward to our next trip. Thanks for the memories Route 66!

Next stop…Arizona here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: It’s Just Water Under the Bridge

Once everything was back on track, and Levi had his medicine, we were able to officially start day two of our Route 66 Adventure! The first item on our agenda was the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which is just over one mile long and spans the Mississippi River between Madison, IL (Chouteau Island) and an area just north of St. Louis, MO.

It is a Truss-style bridge, built in 1929 and was used as a bypass for Route 66 travelers who wished to avoid downtown St. Louis. A new bridge was built just to the north in 1966 to accommodate the newly constructed I-270 , and the original Chain of Rocks Bridge (named for the large shoal, or rocky rapids that made that area difficult to navigate) eventually closed to vehicular traffic in 1970. It sat completely unused for almost 30 years, but in 1998 was leased to a local trail’s group, and renovated for pedestrian and cycling use only.

While researching our trip, MaMa read about the possibility of break-ins and unsavory types in the area (especially on the Missouri side), but fortunately we didn’t run into anything like that. I still wanted to mention it though, in case you are using my blog as a travel guide!

Even though we used Google maps to navigate us, we still managed to get a little lost on our way to the bridge, but finally after much discussion between MaMa and Pops, we found our way to the short bridge we needed to take in order to get to the entrance of the Chain of Rocks bridge on Chouteau Island.

Bridge to Chouteau
We are on our way!

Once we finally got to the bridge, I was excited to walk across it, and check out the Mississippi River! It would have been my first time seeing it, but Levi had other plans.

MaMa and I are ready to walk the bridge!
MaMa and I are ready to walk the bridge!
Come on, let's do this!
Come on, let’s do this!

It turns out he is deathly afraid of crossing bridges, and this mile long footbridge was just too much for him to handle. Pops got him about 50 feet onto the bridge, when Levi started cowering and hugging the railing. He’s our big, brave Pitboxer, and here he was acting like a scared baby bird!

Levi checks out the start of the bridge.
Levi checks out the start of the bridge.
"You're kidding me, right?"
“You’re kidding me, right?”
"Get me off this thing!"
“Get me off this thing!”
MaMa making fun of Levi. Not nice, MaMa!
MaMa making fun of Levi. Not nice, MaMa!

Since MaMa and I didn’t want to make the trip across the bridge without them, mostly because of the unsavory types we’d heard about, we ended up just sniffing around the entrance a little bit and attempted to take a family photo before two dogs showed up (which is what Levi and I were looking at). We ended up piling back into the car and taking off shortly after that.

Family Photo before some dogs showed up.
Family Photo before some dogs showed up.

On our way back out of town we saw a Route 66 open air flea market that allowed dogs, so our consolation prize was to take a walk around there and get admired by the locals, before heading on to Missouri. We sure do love stopping anywhere that is dog friendly! Flea markets have a lot of odd and interesting things to check out, but luckily I didn’t see any actual fleas!

Route 66 Flea Market, an unplanned stop!
Route 66 Flea Market, an unplanned stop!
So many odd & interesting things to see!
So many odd & interesting things to see!

Day Two certainly wasn’t starting off the way we thought it would, but we were making the most of it, and staying flexible. I was starting to become an experienced road tripper, and learning that the best way to have fun and a good time was to just go with the flow!

 

 

Route 66 Road Trip: Pink Elephants & Other Oddities

I woke up on day two of our Route 66 road trip and for a second I forgot where I was! I’d never slept (or woken up) in a motel before and I had to look, and then sniff around before I remembered.

“Oh yeah”, I woofed to myself, “I’m not at home. I’m on a road trip! Woof Woof!!”

My little bark woke up Levi, who proceeded to jump off the bed and shake his head. The sound of his ears whipping around woke up MaMa and Pops, and before you knew it, we were up and ready to hit the ground running before 7:00 AM!

MaMa had chosen this particular motel, not only because it is located about half-way on Route 66 from our road trip’s ending point, but also because it has an Antique Mall with all sorts of interesting and some crazy things to look at. We decided to walk over there and see what there was to gawk at.

The Pink Elephant Antique Mall (which is named after the giant pink, yes pink, elephant that stands out front) is home to many oddities, as well as being located in an old high school and housing two stories worth of different antique dealers. We didn’t get to take a look inside, but the outdoors, where we prefer to hang out, had plenty for us to explore.

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We saw another Muffler Man, who reportedly spent his early years in Kentucky, but now makes his home in Livingston. He can be seen from the road, wearing a bright orange Harley Davidson shirt, beckoning travelers to stop and say Hello. Levi did just that!

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We also saw Alvin & the Chipmunks hanging out in front of the mall. They made some kind of crack about me not being tall enough to hang out with them. Those rodents really have some nerve!  I quickly moved along.

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MaMa and I checked out a 1968 Futuro House, which was designed by a Finnish architect, but somehow made its way to this mall to hang out with all of the other oddities. I think it has found an appropriate home, since it sits next to a building that looks like an ice cream cone!

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Of course Levi had to check out the namesake for this wild and wacky establishment, while MaMa and I wandered over to the ice cream building, and caught a glimpse of a 20 foot tall man in swim trunks! All of these curious attractions have their own unique history and there are many stories about their origins to be told on another day, perhaps by another dog.

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Once we’d had our fill of all the strange and silly statues and structures, we took a quick walk around this small Central Illinois town before hitting the road for more Route 66 Adventures! But first, one last smell of that giant’s foot!! BOL!

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Route 66 Road Trip: Even Explorers Need to Sleep!

We’d been on the road all day and explored a half dozen historic Route 66 attractions, so we were more than ready to take a load off and unwind. We briefly considered stopping at one last place on MaMa’s map, but it was getting late, the sun was starting to set, Pops missed the turn off (because MaMa wasn’t helping him look), and we ended up going to a wine store instead so MaMa could stock up on libations for the night! As it was, we had another hour or so to drive (with traffic) before making it to the Country Inn motel in Livingston, Ill. where MaMa had made our reservation.

We were super lucky to find this motel, as it not only allowed two dogs for a minimal charge, but they allowed dogs of any size or breed. I’m pretty easy to travel with, seeing as I’m only about 10 pounds and as far as we know, there are no restrictions on Maltese dogs in any towns or counties in America. Levi, on the other hand, is part Pitbull, and as it turns out, there are some towns you can’t even drive through, let alone stay in, if you have a Pitbull breed with you. I think that is sad and unfair, since I know what a good dog he is, and I’ve met so many other Pitbulls that are a lot nicer than I could ever be!

Walking into our motel room was an experience I will never forget! I’d never stayed anywhere like it before. Up until then, the only places I’d slept were my first owner’s house, the tobacco store that I was forced to live in for four months when my first owners didn’t want me anymore, and of course MaMa and Pop’s homes. I didn’t even know there were such things as motels, with everything you need all in one room! We had two beds, a desk and chairs, a nightstand, lamps, a phone and TV too. Also, we had a big window that looked out onto the parking lot and which provided excellent viewing for me and Levi anytime someone walked by or slammed a door! Luckily, we didn’t bark too much because we didn’t want to cause any problems or get kicked out of the room.

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Living large with Levi in Livingston!

One really convenient thing about the Country Inn motel is the attached café which is open until 9:30 for dinner, which meant MaMa and Pop didn’t need to stop for fast food, and we could all eat together in the room. When you’ve been traveling all day, it sure is nice to have a meal that is as close to home cooked as you can get when you’re on the road, and to be able to eat it with your dog begging by your side…just like home! And since MaMa already had her bottle of wine, she was good to go!

There were so many things to sniff and suss out. MaMa was worried that I would get into something, so she followed me around the room for a while. When she was finally satisfied that I wouldn’t get into anything, she sat down and let me have my space. That woman can really cramp my style sometimes!

After sniffing the entire perimeter of the room, under both beds, and all around the bathroom, I was able to finally sit and relax. MaMa said we needed to go to bed early because we had another fun-filled day planned on Route 66. We didn’t know exactly what we were going to do or see, but chances were it would be another memorable day on the Mother Road!

Route 66 Road Trip: Sugar Creek Covered Bridge

It had been a delightful day filled with a plethora of Route 66 adventures, and we only had time for one last stop before winding down for the night. MaMa’s map had many interesting and fun sounding stops on it, and it was difficult to choose where to go, since we’d have to leave so many places unseen (for now).

Since we’d already had a lot of excitement that day, we decided we were ready for a quiet walk in nature, and thought the Sugar Creek covered bridge, just about a mile off the Mother Road in Glenarm, Ill. showed some promise.

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The bridge is one of only five remaining covered bridges in Illinois and the oldest of them all. There is some discrepancy as to whether it was originally constructed in 1827 or 1880, but either way, it is REALLY old, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. The Illinois Department of Transportation rehabilitated the structure in 1965, and it has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1984. It is now part of a local park and open to foot traffic only. There are some trails adjacent to the bridge, so it was a perfect place for us to stop.

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Once we arrived at the park and began walking towards the bridge, we knew we had made the right choice for our final stop of the day. There was nobody else there, the sun was beginning its rapid descent and giving off a gorgeous glow behind the trees, and the park had a quiet peacefulness that we were all yearning for, after such a hectic (but super fun) day.

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Walking up to and through the covered bridge, you could feel the history of it palpitating from the walls, the roof and the ground beneath, as if it were a living & breathing thing. I felt as if I could smell the past and all of the people and pooches who had been through there before me. If only those walls could talk! I wouldn’t be able to understand them, but it would still be pretty cool!

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Sugar Creek which is traversed by the bridge, is a tributary of the Sangamon River and eventually discharges into Lake Springfield. The area surrounding it was settled shortly after the War of 1812 because of its fertile prairie ground and for being one of the southernmost habitats for Sugar Maple trees in Illinois.

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The fertility of the area is evident today, as the park and nearby trails were full of trees and offered us a beautiful place to walk around and explore. It was a perfect final stop to a near perfect day (sorry Funks Grove) on historic Route 66.

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