Visiting with friends and family – Baby, it’s cold outside! Back to the southwest.

12/13 Illinois
Maybe I’m getting sentimental, but visiting family brings both joy and sadness sometimes, the latter reminding me of how important it is to be with family and then having to leave. It was great visiting and catching up with everyone, and my sisters were AMAZING to celebrate my birthday with me. Kathy made the best cheesecake ever, and staying with her was definitely home for me. I got there just in time to see trick-or-treaters and meet Kathy’s new neighbor and have dinner with them. And the dogs always steal the show. I was able to spend time with Nessie and Merlin. Oh, the most adorable pooches! Kathy also took me to the barn to see Kiwi, their horse, and I made new friends with the cat and another horse called Mimi. Horses are so cool! This was my favorite place to visit.
I got together with my old neighbor, Mark, and we always have a good time catching up on things. This visit was a busy one for me and sadly, I didn’t get around to visiting all my friends. Two weeks goes by pretty fast, and then I had to leave. I really didn’t want to go this time, but my journey is calling and my plans for spending the winter in California had already been confirmed.

Getting to somewhere seems vague, but that’s how my traveling tends to be. I went back to my favorite RT 66 restaurant, Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willlowbrook, and this time was able to dine in. It’s a throwback to the 1940’s and was all decked out in holiday decorations and chickens. I also ordered take out to bring to my next visit in Missouri. Best chicken tenders anywhere!

Next, I drove to Springfield, IL to visit Lincoln’s home, which is a national monument. The tour was interesting and I was fascinated by the period furniture and some artifacts that actually belonged to the Lincoln family. Springfield is a quaint little town and might be a possible home base in the future.

On the Mississippi River lies Hannibal, home of Mark Twain, where I stopped to take some pictures before heading to Moberly.
Dianna is one of the ladies I met at Yellowstone in 2021 and became good friends with. I met John, her hubby, and she and I spent 2 days catching up. I shared my meal with them and enjoyed the warmth of their home. She showed me her farm that she leased out to a cattle rancher. We drove to an Amish community and Dianna told me about their lifestyle, then went to one of the stores to do a little shopping. Dianna’s hospitality was very gracious, and I couldn’t ask for a better host. She gave me a lot of information about MO and there’s definitely more to do.
There are some cute restaurants in town.
The Bean Café – nice little place serving sandwiches and coffee. I treated Dianna to lunch for her birthday and we had a nice time chatting.
The three of us had dinner at the Black Market BBQ – YUMMY. I do love my BBQ.
The next day I drove to Springfield, MO and checked out the flagship Bass Pro Shop HQ – giant!!! You can get lost in here. I stopped in Oklahoma for the night at a Cracker Barrel and moved on the next morning. I missed a visit with a friend, but will catch up with her the next time I’m in the area.

Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo
I’ve been there before but didn’t realize it at first until everything started to look familiar. This is one of the best state parks to camp in. The mini canyon has lots of trails, and the campsites are clean and well groomed. I just spent one night, but will definitely come back. The weather has been miserable so far. There’s a cold snap this November that I am feeling the brunt of.

New Mexico
This city did not really appeal to me. It’s a smaller one with a lot more smog because it lies in the valley at the base of the mountains. There was a library near downtown that I brought my laptop to work on stuff. Security was very heavy and there seemed to be a lot of homeless people who hang out here.
There was not much to see and hard to find a place to park overnight, so I drove on HWY 40 and after a couple of tries found a stop with a casino. I probably wasn’t in the mood to explore after all of this driving. I survived a 13 degree night but was cold! The van is not equipped to handle extreme weather.

Next: Arizona

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