Road Trips And Memories – The Great River Road (Illinois) Grafton and Alton/

From  Sarah :
I originally wrote
this in 2015.
We are getting ready for another ROAD TRIP. Danny and I have a short trip coming up on Wednesday, January 15th.
Another 5 day trip RAIL FANNING. We come home on Sunday.
I leave for Illinois on  Tuesday .I was going to fly there but decided I just couldn’t. I NEED A ROAD TRIP.
I need time to myself. Away from Danny. I will be going from “Sarah” to “Debbie”, my real name. Going HOME for the first time since my dad died.
Both my parents are gone.
Bobby  is gone.
I need TIME to heal. That’s what this road trip is for. So is the visit. Going home for COMFORT.
I will have a week at the homestead by myself.  My sister and her husband will be gone . I am pet  sitting.
I will be hiding.
Once they come home, I will venture out. Seeing family and friends. Taking ROAD TRIPS through the wonderful Illinois countryside. Visiting my home church.
But, for a week, I will stay on the farm as much as possible.

What do the words “Road Trips” mean to you?

I can’t stop thinking of road trips.

I miss those carefree days when I was young and our family went on vacations. Scenic vacations.
I will write a post on Route 66. It was a huge part of my childhood and teen years

Route 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.
My took many drives and road trips after I turned 16. I never took the same road 2xs in a row if I didn’t have to. This post will cover some of those.
I will write a post on driving to Colorado  from Illinois with a girlfriend when we were 16 years old.
Of traveling with Bobby from Illinois to Colorado or Colorado to Illinois.
Road trips with Bobby and his cousins, Mike and Leah.
With Bobby, Kari and Alex.
With my dad, Bobby and I.
So Many awesome memories.
Since Bobby died and I moved to Florida , those road trips stopped. With the exception of 2.
A spur of the moment road trip driving with Karen from Texas to Illinois and then to Kansas in January 2007.
Taking Greyhound back home for mom’s memorial service and Thanksgiving last year. 2014.

To me they mean getting in the Fiat (The Blue Goose) at 17 and heading out for a nightly ride on The Great River Road.

Around 17 here
Around 14 here Great River Road Between Grafton And Elsah, Illinois.

“Old Man River, Father of Waters, “body of a nation,” Big Muddy—by any name the mighty Mississippi cuts a mythic figure across the American landscape.”

Old Man River Lyrics

Music Video

“Old Man River” was written by Butler, Herbert/givens, Otha Lee/johnson, Tony Lee /

Here we all work ‘long the Mississippi

Here we all work, while the white boys play
Gettin’ no rest from the dawn till the sunset
Gettin’ no rest till the judgment day

You don’t look up, you don’t look down
You don’t dare make the rich boss frown
Bend your knees and bow your head
And tote that barge until you’re dead

Let me go away from the Mississippi
Let me go away from the rich man boss
Show me that stream called the River of Jordan
That’s the old stream that I long to cross

Old Man River, Old Man River
He don’t say nothin’, he must know somethin’
Old Man River, he just keeps rollin’ along

You know, you know he don’t plant taters
And we all know the man don’t plant no cotton
And then, then they plant ’em
Oh the Lord knows they are soon forgotten
But Old Man River, he just keeps rollin’ along

You, you and me, you know sometimes
We have to we have to sweat, sweat and strain
Our bodies, our bodies are all achin’
And wracked with a whole lot of pain

Tote that barge, lift that bale, you get a little drunk
And you land in jail

I get weary and so sick of tryin’
I’m tired of livin’, and afraid of dyin’
But Old Man River, he just keeps rollin’ a
Old Man River, he just keeps rollin’ along

BUTLER, HERBERT/GIVENS, OTHA LEE/JOHNSON, TONY LEE /Paul Robeson – Old Man River Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Old Man River Song…. Paul Robinson Showboat.
My dad loved to sing this song……Usually the first song he would sing when we went camping…..

Grafton and Elsah

I love my hometown of Grafton, Illinois. To be honest, If It wouldn’t have been so hot and humid there in the summertime and cold and damp in the winter , I probably would never have left it to move to Colorado.
I would have just gone to Colorado , every chance I had.
I would probably still be there, On the farm…..In my parent’s house.
I loved farm life. But that is another story.
Illinois is beautiful. Roads that go on and on forever. Crisscrossing  like they DON’T DO In Florida Or Even Colorado.

Leaving the farm and just driving.

Farm Life
Farm Life I’ve posted these just last week in mom’s memorial post. Mom and Donna and my rabbits. Above, Me with Cisco and Ralphie Jr.

Mom and dad learned early on that this was the best way for me to relax if I wasn’t reading.
I had the car. I bought it right after I got my license. The day after my 16th birthday. Although, I had a license to drive farm equipment since I was 14.
I bought my own gas and insurance. 

It means having the top down more times than not, radio on  or an 8  track of Elvis playing. 

ELVIS PRESLEY At Madison Garden ~ 1972 Eight Track Tape Elvis Presley
I would listen to Elvis singing Memphis Tennessee over and over again.

Another song I would listen to over and over again was :
“River Road By Crystal Gayle
Here I go once again with my suitcase in my hand
And I’m running away down River Road
And I swear, once again, that I’m never coming home
Yes, I’m chasing my dreams down River Road

Mama said, “Listen child, you’re too old to run wild
You’re too big to be fishin’ with the boys these days”
So I grabbed some clothes and I ran
Stole five dollars from a sugar can
A twelve year old jail breaker runnin’ away

Here I go once again with my suitcase in my hand
And I’m running away down River Road
And I swear, once again, that I’m never coming home
I’m chasing my dreams down River Road

Well, I married a pretty good man and he tries to understand
But he knows I’ve got leavin’ on my mind these days
When I get that urge to roam I’m just like a kid again
The same old jail breaker runnin’ away

Here I go once again with my suitcase in my hand
And I’m running away down River Road
And I swear, once again, that I’m never coming home
I’m chasing my dreams down River Road”

Bobby grew up listening to the songs I loved . We would sing them together. 577654_3288674184704_1503191236_32294040_1111595008_n (1)
Bobby and I 1981.

The photos of us were taken one year at Royal Gorge. His cousins were visiting and I had promised to take everyone there. It was one of the few hot summer days Colorado had that year. In the 90's. No humidity though.
The photo of us was taken one year at Royal Gorge. His cousins were visiting and I had promised to take everyone there.
It was one of the few hot summer days Colorado had that year. In the 90’s. No humidity though.
Bobby, Mike and Leah
Bobby, Mike and Leah Cascade Colorado- Bobby 4, Mike 3 and Leah 2. 1984
My kids
My kids

My kids. I thought of them that way. They were almost always together for the first  5 years of their lives. More like brother’s and sister than cousins.

Grafton and Elsah
“Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and stretching out for approximately two miles along the Illinois River, is the picturesque river town of Grafton. Founded in 1832 by James Mason, Grafton is the oldest town in Jersey County. Described as a “post office, one store, one tavern, and a number of families” in 1834, the area was being settled as early as 1812 when a blockhouse was built at the confluence for protection.”
I usually headed to Grafton and then turn left on the River Road to Elsah. Then down the unpaved road there (it is paved now) and on out to 100. (highway 100) and home. A short drive.
Grafton and Elsah

“Built in 1858 this home was for many years the home of the village butcher and fisherman, Issac Haupt. The stone part of the structure was built as a two-room house with an outside stair to the second floor. The frame portion on the right was added in the 1890s. Then in the 1940s the house was modernized by adding an inside stair, living room fireplace, bathrooms, and oak flooring over the old random width pine boards in the living and dining rooms.”

The Buggy Shop : “John Reintges erected the wagon shop in the summer of 1877. Although there have been, some changes, particularly in the front, the buggy shop is one of the buildings that gives Elsah its quaint flavor. You can still read the lettering painted across the gable end of the shop “Wagons and Buggies Made and Repaired.”

Or I would head further down the road to a little road shortly before you reached Alton and the Piasa Bird.

The down 100 and home. There was an old bridge back then….They took it out years ago.
For the longer drives (Usually during the day) I would turn right in Grafton and head West Towards Hardin.

“Some of the region’s most dramatic scenery is nestled along a winding road north of Alton, Illinois. Drive along the Great River Road with the Mississippi River on one side and soaring limestone bluffs on the other. The bluffs, noted in the journals of 17th-century explorers Marquette and Joliet, sheltered the fierce Piasa Bird of Native American legend. Just north of Alton, you’ll find an image of the serpent-like bird painted on the limestone cliffs. Enjoy antique hunting in Alton and charming Grafton to the north. Picnic beside the river, bike on the trail under the bluffs or explore the grounds of Pere Marquette State Park and its classic log lodge.

Cross the Mississippi or Illinois rivers on one of four ferries at Kampsville, Grafton, Brussels and Winfield or stop in the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville to learn more about the region’s prehistoric heritage. On the way back to St. Louis, visit the Argosy Casino Alton or stop in the National Great Rivers Museum at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam. Learn about the Corps of Discovery at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois, located at the site of the explorers’ Camp Dubois.”

Sometimes, my sister, Donna (5 years younger would tag along).

I have so many memories that I can’t wait to share.
Until Next Time:
It was one of those times I felt like signing as Debbie.
Love you all.

51 Comments Add yours

  1. Best place to watch movies !

  2. Lots of memories,
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Yes, I am . Thank you. Have a great rest of the week.

      1. Thanks,
        Wish you the same,
        Stay Safe and healthy.

  3. Himali Shah says:

    I too love road trips, Sarah 🙂 They are so much fun ! Your blue car is so cool and the pictures of Bobby & you are really so sweet

    1. That was my first car. I had it for a long time. I wore it out. Plus it was too small for my niece and nephew to ride with us.
      I hated to get rid of it.

      1. Himali Shah says:

        Ahhh… such beautiful sentiments attached with her. I too am yet to own my first car “:)

  4. anwyn84 says:

    I love road trips and love to hear about the great ones to take. At the moment i’m trying to experience the best road trips of New Zealand. I used to drive to all sorts of places when i lived in the UK. As a family we would take the 8 hr drive to Scotland, my parents bundling us all in the back of the car in our PJ’s at a ungodly hour of the morning as my dad preferred to get there by lunch and miss the traffic. But they were good times.

    1. Alex,
      My dad would often want to leave about 3 AM for our vacation. We lived in Illinois. If we left at 3PM we would get to my grandparent’s house in Kansas City, Mo. in time for breakfast. Grandma would have a huge one ready for us. Then we’d be off for Colorado. My grandprent’s would often join us a week later at the cabin.
      Good times.

  5. New Journey says:

    I love the post…..I live for road trips…LOL my husband and I try to never take the same road 2x, however we have covered just about all the roads in Arizona, I need to do Sedona and then we have been on every drivable road with pavement…LOL California and Washington are done, and Oregon and New Mexico still have a few roads waiting for us, but not many…we have done the entire USA around the edge, we are looking forward to doing that again…sister as soon as you can you need to go on a road trip….love your fiat….we have a 75 MG convertible….it has no shocks so its like riding in a cement slab..LOL but fun just the same…road trips are in my blood…my parents were famous road trippers….LOL

    1. You are so lucky to have a hubby that loves them also. My doesn’t. I can’t get him to go anywhere. I try.
      I grew up like you did. We traveled. We tent camped. Roughed it in some of the most remote places in the US. Oh we had fun. Little road trips. When we vacationed, we did the same. Always taking back roads.
      I have been to every state in the US except for Hawaii. Granted, Alaska was just to Homer. The bottom tip.
      When I went back home last Thanksgiving for my mom’s memorial service, I took the bus. I wanted /needed a road trip. A few years ago I would have driven back. By myself. It was so worth it to take the bus even with all of the people. I got to see mountains.I enjoyed every bit of the ride.
      Here’s to getting out and seeing the world. Or t least the part we can.

      1. New Journey says:

        I lived in South East Alaska, Prince of Wales Island, a little fishing village called Craig, for a short time….what a beautiful state, never made it to Homer…we still have about 15 states to go….I have been to Hawaii, well worth it..I went with my folks the first time and they rented a camper on each island…so pretyy, I went back for a long weekend with a girlfriend and slept on the beach for 3 nights and then flew home…oh to be young and dumb LOL

        1. I did a lot of traveling by myself or with a girlfriend when I was young.(Under 20) I was 22 when I moved to Colorado from Illinois.
          I often took road trips with Bobby .

          1. New Journey says:

            time to get you husband on the road…he can pick the destination….??

            1. I keep trying. 🙂

  6. My friend and I drove to Colorado when we first moved here after military school. We drove up from Texas and we were amazed by all the seasons we seemed to drive through just to get to this place! We should have taken photos, yours are great!

    1. You should have seen the ones I no longer have. I had an awesome camera back them . Film…..A good Minolta for the cheaper one.
      I could take pictures all day. ALl I needs is a camera that works.
      Saving a little here and a little there. Very little. LOL

  7. Road trip means party lol. I haven’t had a road trip in such a long time. I’ve heard there are so many wonderful places on RT. 66 but I’ve never been on it myself. I hope one day I get to do so. Love this post Sarah.

    1. Kia, It’s the first in a series I want to do on Road Trips….And I still want to do a post on Route 66. It is what I started to do before the memories took over. I love those memories…..We had some wonderful times……I wish I could get Danny interested in a Road Trip. Trouble is here in FLorida…..the roads don’t go on and on like they do in other states……to many bodies of water….LOL
      I am so glad you liked it. Hugs

  8. Some road trips need the perfect car – and it looks like you had a great combination of both. Hope you are feeling better 🙂

    1. Tandy,
      I had a Small truck that I loved to travel in. It had a camper shell on it. My dad built shelves for the inside. I hated having to get rid of it.
      I had the minor operation today. They used a probe to go in and get the cancer. So I didn’t have to have major surgery. So I am groggy but good. xxxx

      1. glad it went well; feel I’ve gotten behind

        1. You aren’t the only one who has gotten behind. As you know, I haven’t been by to visit you….I barely keep up with comments any more. Not complaining there. I LOVE Getting comment. It’s mail to me…

          1. that’s somewhat the way I handle it; check them as I’m checking my email – but you’ve had a lot going on – like I said, much as I hate it, glad, in that sense, that what happened did, though, as I think I understand now, it’s not that you actually did anything to your foot, just that ole fibro – know my friend that has it was having trouble with either her hip or knee real bad with it – she did have some pain meds for it, though – course I’m new to you but didn’t realize you’d had a round with the big bad C stuff before

            1. I had stomach cancer back in 2003-2004. Chemo. Radiation. All of it.
              The medicines…the new ones seem to be helping whatever is wrong with my foot. I am just thankful that I seldom have much trouble with my right side. Some but not much.
              And because they caught the cancer NOW, I won’t LOSE a foot.

              1. oh, true, didn’t think about that; guess that is where is was, wasn’t it? wow – they’d have never thought of that, would they – so was that what was causing the pain?

                1. They really aren’t sure. It is all linked to the lupus /fibro/. It could be any number of things. Arthritis is getting worse.

  9. applegiuice says:

    Hi! you write so many beautiful things…I’m very happy when you read my article… you are my best follower 😉 a big kiss for you

    1. I love reading your blog. I am so glad I found it and YOU. Especially you. hugs and kisses

      1. applegiuice says:

        Oh you are so sweet 😊😊😊

        1. Not really….I just tell the truth. ALways. 🙂

  10. avenscent says:

    0ld man river what a great song, great posts too.

    1. Thank you…..It was hard to stop posting them. I could have gone on for hours. I will be doing more of the road trips.

      1. avenscent says:

        Dont stop we love them and if they help make you feel better do it.X

        1. They do make me feel better. So Thank you. xxxx

  11. aFrankAngle says:

    I also grew up in a small town along a river …. but the Ohio … so I know the feeling. Meanwhile, travelling Rt 66 was quite the journey. but I can’t believe you didn’t include this song in the post. … get ready to start movin’!

    1. Actually, I thought of it but then forgot about it.
      It was never a song we sang.
      How about George Benson’s version? Or Nat King Coles. Even Natilie sings it. Love the song. I will include them when I do a post on Route 66 . I am doing or planning on writing a number of posts on Road Trips. I almost started with Route 66 bit couldn’t stop thinking about my hometown area.
      There is a lot of history pertaining to the River Cities and The River Rats that live there.
      I am a River Rat. LOL
      I use to have a T
      shirt to prove it.

      1. aFrankAngle says:

        There are many good versions of Route 66. Benson’s version has a cool, jazzy feel … whereas Asleep at the Wheel is more aggressively bouncy. Great songs! … BTW – I have a River Rats t-shirt.

        1. I smiled at you and your T-shirt.
          I wish I still had mine.
          I took pride in being a RIVER RAT.

          1. aFrankAngle says:

            I’ll use it as a sleep shirt.

            1. Mine was huge on me back then so I slept in mine also. It would probably fit well now.

  12. Fabulous! My dad LOVED route 66. His favorite traveling song was “On The Road Again” by Willy Nelson. We played it whenever we left town when I was traveling with him.

    1. Laughing at that. Bobby and I sang that as well. How are you doing? Any plans for the weekend?

      1. Going to the grocery to buy lots of produce cuz I’ve got to get my plan under control. More produce, less processed crap. I’m holding it together. You?

        1. Needing to get out of the hospital and into my OWN Bed.
          Feeling confined. Yet, enjoying the AC. It’s chilly in here. And the internet is FAST. Our is so slow.
          I love fresh produce. I just wish it wasn’t so high.

  13. Very interesting post, loved seeing all the pictures and reading the song lyrics !! Thanks for sharing your memories !!

    1. I just wish I had the photos to go with the stories. I had so many.
      How are you Stephie? Any plans for this weekend?

      1. Sarah,
        Yes, my husband David actually has the entire weekend off, we are giddy !! He works every other weekend and usually works overtime on the other Saturday. He will be home any time and then we have an entire weekend together !! He just worked 7 days straight, so we are both ready !!
        Not sure what we are doing, some errands, the farmers market, pick up both of our new eye glasses and work on the house. Deep in the middle of a kitchen reno that is taking forever !! He is working a lot of overtime which leaves us little time to work. Hope to make some progress on it and stil enjoy some down time !!
        I hope you have a good weekend, even if you have to stay in the hospital. I hope you are home soon !!!

        1. Stephie,
          His schedule sounds very much like Danny’s to some extent. He needs his days off to recuperate.
          Enjoy your working weekend. Working on projects together is great.

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