It is still hot and in the 90’s here in central Illinois but the weather is thankfully supposed to change back to a more typical low 80’s in the next few days. We broke camp and left Fox Ridge State Park in Charleston, Illinois. We liked this park a lot but it was the first place we have been all spring and summer where we had a bug problem. We had a few mosquitos around the campsite which didn’t bother us too bad but when we went for our hike we were pestered incessantly by small gnats that would fly right in your face and buzz your ears. Annoying? Yes but at least they didn’t bite so as to not ruin our hiking.
Tuesday called for a short 34 mile drive south to visit some friends we made during our first winter in Florida. Sharon kept in contact with them via Facebook and as we neared their farm we arranged a get together. As we pulled into their farm just outside of Newton, Illinois. Mike and BJ were at the driveway to greet us and directed us to where we should park and set up. Man we could hardly believe that we were going to have full hookups for our short stay here at their home place! It has been a while since we had full hookups as most of the parks we have stayed at this summer were not!
After hugs and greetings we took a short drive to see some highlights of their town. Upon returning that evening we had a little happy hour at the cabin Mike has been building near a pond on their property It is a neat A-Frame cabin that he and his 11 year grandson have been building and it is about 95 percent complete. It is comfortable and welcoming with plenty of chairs on the wrap around deck in which to relax, enjoy the view and enjoy the cool breezes. An added delightful surprise was that they had invited another couple we met during our first winter in Florida to join us as well. It was wonderful to see Steve and Diane and we all had a lot of fun reminiscing about the things we had done since we had last seen each other. As the evening ended we made plans to see Steve and Diane once more as they are only about 30 minutes away from here.
Wednesday I woke up and made coffee and looked out the windows to a thick blanket of fog.It cleared as Sharon awoke and we readied for another fun day as we met Mike and BJ at the main house for breakfast, BJ treated us to a great breakfast casserole with fruit and more lively conversation to start the day. We were told the plan for this day was the “Newton Loop Tour”.
Our first stop was the “Mug Tree” in Yale, IL that only a picture can adequately describe. The Mug Tree, topped by an outhouse, is where you can trade or leave your coffee mugs. Then it was off to Moonshine, a well established small-town eatery, frequented by folks from far and wide in Martinsville, IL. We loved this little “hole in the wall” spot and the moonburgers we had there were awesome. The place reminded us a bit of Luckenbach Texas. After lunch we drove to Casey IL where you can see the worlds’s largest wind chime, knitting needles and golf tee. Sharon and Mike had fun making the wind chime work…
From Casey we drove over to Cameo Vineyards in Greenup, IL for a little wine tasting. The Cameo wines agreed quite nicely with our palates so we left with a bottle of their River’s Edge Dry Red Wine. The owner was chatty and full of local news to share making it a fun stop. Next was yet another winery called Tuscany Hills near the town of Effingham IL. Pretty decent wines there too and what a beautiful building and courtyard they had. Mike and BJ are friends of the owners so we were all invited to go in the back since they were in the middle of grape smashing… what fun to watch them crushing grapes. It was also great to see the joyful banter as the owners and their daughters were enjoying working together. But my favorite thing there were their T-shirts that boasted they were The Best Effing Wine in Effington…
Our last stop was the MVP bar in Newton IL for a couple of cold beverages and chance for us to meet Miss Piggy. Now the MVP bar would be classified as a Dive Biker Bar and was the perfect place to stop for the end of the day. We were the only patrons in the bar at this particular time but there was however a hound dog that entertained us especially when he jumped up on the pool table to get at the cue ball… too funny. And of course we had to step outside to meet Miss Piggy, a rather large pot bellied pig that resides on the premises.
After the enjoyable drive through the countryside it was back to the cabin on the lake to enjoy some fishing, some dinner and more conversation with our friends…Quite an enjoyable day we had!