Monday, September 20, 2010

Calhoun County, Illinois

Saturday was one of those strange days when we started the day not knowing how the rest of it would unfold. John's sister Carolyn and her husband Jim were visiting us from Farmington. Saturday morning we went with them to St.Louis Mills Mall and after that we returned to St.Charles. Coming home I think it was some highway sign which got John thinking about Calhoun County. He was surprised to find out that Carolyn and Jim had never seen the area. Before I knew it we were driving past where our home is parked and heading to Illinois! And it turned out to be a terrific day. In the past John and I would make the trip about once a year with our children over to Calhoun County to purchase apples and peaches, usually it was around the time of Labor Day. It is a great day trip driving over rolling river hills through fields of corn, peach and apple orchards. It is certainly a refreshing time away from the busyness of the big city. We took highway 94 east to Brussels Ferry. Brussels Ferry took us over the Illinois River into Calhoun County.
Our first stop was a country store which offers a wide variety of items from hand-made quilts to canned jams, pickles and fruit. It is a is  fun place to browse and maybe purchase an ice cream cone. The building was built in 1929, and for many years served as a vegetable and fruit market.
We did stop at several farm markets and purchased fruits and vegetables grown locally. I did not have any hope of finding peaches this late in the season, but one market did have them. I did not know that there were  October peaches now available (the owner of the orchard said she did not know why they are called October peaches when they ripen in September). What beautiful large juicy peaches they were, I did not even care about how much they cost. Being up in Alaska all summer and missing all the good produce down in the states has made me quite hungry for them. After loading up with fruits and vegetables we headed for home along the river road. At least we thought we were heading for home. We all decided that we had never toured Principia College. That was another wonderful stop. What a beautiful college overlooking the Mississippi River!  We walked around the center of the campus and found the chapel walk trail. On this path are many beautiful vistas of the river. The picture below may give you an idea of what the area looks like.
We also toured the little town of Elsa, and did not return home until early evening. It was a wonderful day, and if you live in the metropolitan area of St.Louis and have never driven over to Calhoun County, then you are missing something very special and unique to this area of the midwest.

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