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

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 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…..

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 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. 

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. 
Bobby and I 1981.

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 Cascade Colorado- Bobby 4, Mike 3 and Leah 2. 1984
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.