Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Peoria, Illinois

We have moved on from Lake Geneva and are parked by the Illinois River.  It seems a bit strange to me that we have been around so many rivers and lakes the past few months.  We certainly did not deliberately plan that!   Awhile back John suggested Peoria as a place to visit and I agreed, thinking that there really is not much to see or do there but I did want to visit where I once trained for pediatric nursing.
Pictured above is the nursing school building for St.Francis Medical Center, same building which I lived in about fifty years ago for three months.  The hospital's children's section is now call Children's Hospital of Illinois.  I enjoyed my training there, and it subsequently led me into 38 years of pediatric nursing.  After visiting the medical center on Sunday we looked for a place to eat.  I happened to glance at the paper and noticed that at the Exposition Center of Peoria there was a festival of Beer, Bar-B-Que and Bluegrass Music and we headed there for lunch- see how well we plan things?   I also noticed in the paper that the Peoria Symphony was playing at the riverfront that evening, we did that also later in the day.
Pictured above was the scenery we had while listening to the symphony.  It was a good concert, the symphony is going into its 117th season.  George Stelluto the director took a few minutes to review the orchestra's history with us.  John Philip Sousa and Luciano Pavarotti both performed with the symphony in the past.  He added that another notable person who visited Peoria was Abraham Lincoln.  And here I will digress to share with our readers other history of Peoria which I learned from historical markers at the riverfront.  The breweries and distilleries row of Peoria financed the Civil War.  In the twentieth century the town dropped its title of "Brewery Capital of the World" and became the "Earth Moving Capitol of the World".  The Holt Company came to Peoria then, later known as the Caterpillar Company.
Peoria has at least two wonderful museums, however they were closed Monday.  We still had a wonderful day at the Wildlife Prairie State Park.  In this park are 50 native Illinois species that roam the park, including bison and black bears, wolves and big cats.
 It is an old coal mining site so there are deep ravines and forested hillsides for the animals to roam, there are no cages to contain the larger animals.  It does make it harder to find the animals, and a certain amount of hiking is required to see them, but it is so much more enjoyable than a regular zoo!  Pictured above is a bobcat- it was interesting to watch him saunter down a hillside, walk along a stream and pounce on some small prey.  Also, while wandering around the park, we chanced several times to espy deer peeking out of the woods and contemplating our presence.  We also enjoyed a hike later in the day at Forest Park Nature Center where we came upon a large flock of wild turkeys foraging for food on a hill above us.

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