I enjoy sharing through this blog how God has been working in my life to heal me of cancer and a decades-long battle with anxiety and agoraphobia. For this post, I want to get a bit more lighthearted and share some of my favorite things I’ve experienced (so far) as I venture out after so many years of being stuck.
Favorite General Observations and Sights Along the Way
I had forgotten how diverse the landscape is in the state of Illinois – from the wooded hills of my home in southern Illinois to the rich farm fields with beautiful dark soil to the bustling cities with all of their sights and sounds.
I know it may seem a strange favorite, but I’m fascinated with the wind turbines that pepper the landscape in central Illinois. When they are spinning they remind me of an acrobat or dancer spinning through the air.
Speed Limit. It’s a lot higher than it was the last time I was traveling anywhere!
Enterprise Center, home of the St. Louis Blues is a place that I’ve wanted to go for many years. Les has been to many Blues games and I finally got to go with him on Valentine’s Day. We had great seats, a great time and a Blues win!
We enjoyed seeing some of the Abraham Lincoln historical sites in Springfield, Illinois and learning more about our state.
My absolute favorite place we have visited so far is South Haven, Michigan. South Haven is on the shore of Lake Michigan and has a beautiful lighthouse. I was mesmerized by the sound of the waves coming onto the beach and the beauty of the sun glistening on the water. Although it was freezing outside, my heart was warmed by the whole experience!
Food – here is my list of the best places that we have been to eat in our recent travels.
Chick-fil-A – We only have a limited-service Chick-fil-A in Carbondale, so it is always a treat to visit a full service one. The grilled nuggets with Polynesian sauce are my favorite!
Five Guys – I had heard great things about Five Guys, so I had to see for myself. It definitely lives up to the hype! I like the little cheeseburger “all the way” and fries.
Portillo’s – I haven’t tried very much at Portillo’s yet, but their desserts are very good! Our younger sons have had Portillo’s several times. Kaleb’s favorite is the chocolate cake and Xavier and Bentley love the strawberry shortcake.
Sauce on the Side – This is Les’ go-to restaurant when he goes to St. Louis Blues hockey games. We visited the one in The Grove in St. Louis and it did not disappoint. We shared a Meat Me in St. Louie calzone and it was delicious.
Vincent Van Doughnut – We happened upon Vincent Van Doughnut when we visited Sauce on the Side. Although they were sold out, we made a trip back the next day so we could try them out. It was definitely worth the trip back. Everything we tried was good, but the French Toast donut was a maple-y, cinnamon-y delight!
Rykse and Co – Rykse and Co is a fun market and restaurant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They are known, at least to our boys, as the place with cinnamon rolls as big as the plates. I had a wonderful omelette and a bite of the grilled cinnamon roll that was indeed as big as the plate.
Pizza House – Pizza House is located in Galesburg, Illinois. It is a favorite spot for some of my family who live there and we have enjoyed eating there a couple times. On our last visit we tried the taco pizza and it was great!
Tres Café – This is a little café in Galesburg that has become the gathering place for family breakfast before we travel back to Carbondale. The food is great and the owner is super sweet. I’ve heard more than once what a giving person she is and how many organizations in the Galesburg area she has helped.
D’Arcys Pint – D’Arcy’s Pint in Springfield, Illinois is a favorite place to visit for many people from our church when they are at our Fall Retreat. We got to visit in October and really enjoyed the atmosphere and food. Les enjoyed a Springfield favorite, the horseshoe.
Coney Island in Galesburg has been in business for over 100 years. It was a favorite of ours when we lived in Galesburg and it has been fun revisiting it. Les has always fondly referred to the coney dogs as “death dogs”. I prefer to call them coneys and pair them with some Kitchen Cooked potato chips.
We have visited a lot of stores, shops, boutiques, etc. in our travels so far. I was excited to visit more well-known stores that are favorites of others but new to me. World Market, At Home, William Sonoma, Crate and Barrel and Michaels have been some of my favorites. Tanger Outlets in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a dream shopping center – Gap, Fossil, Adidas, Maurices and even Lindt Chocolates were just a few of the many shops we enjoyed.
We’ve also visited many smaller shops and boutiques. In Kirkwood, Missouri we went to several shops in the downtown area including Reclaim Renew, a shop that offers everything from tables to artwork made from reclaimed barnwood. We also visited an indoor farmers market and the Mini Fig Shop (featuring everything Lego) in Kirkwood.
Several antique shops, Seminary Street shops in Galesburg (including The Calico Cat), The Vault Luxury Resale Shop in Brentwood, Missouri and even the Goodwill Outlet in St. Louis (I love a good bargain) have all been fun places to visit!
Of course, the best part about our travels so far has been getting to spend time with family, seeing old friends, going down memory lane and sharing new experiences with Les and our kids. We have gotten to visit a couple of churches in our church network and look forward to visiting more. I’m getting to spend time with my aging mother and am cherishing every moment. I remain in awe of the healing that God has done and how he continues to write this story. I’m looking forward to sharing more as we venture to new places. I’d love to have your recommendations for places we should visit!
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