After five days in Chicago, my next stop was twelve hours in Nacogdoches which were immediately followed by another plane ride, this time to southern Illinois and Saint Louis, for a visit with Nathan's parents. They live in Jerseyville, a small town that boasts itself as "close to the crowd... but not in it!" Can't argue with that. We'd previously only been to Jerseyville in December, and in the summer, when the fields are full (and I mean full) of corn and soybeans, it is a completely different place. Here are some photos.
The first night we were in town, we attended the county fair. The county fair was amazing. Yes, it had the usual rides, fried foods, and meats on sticks, but it also had an incredible array of contests. Locals had entered goods and foods in all manner of categories, and of course I was most fascinated by the fruits and vegetables. There were first, second and third place ribbons doled out for tomatoes, zucchini, rhubarb, and raspberries. Angel food cake, sponge cake, oatmeal raisin cookies and quick rising breads. Corn, wheat, rye and barley. It was amazing, and put Nacogdoches' blueberry pie contest to shame. Also, Nathan's mom's cucumbers came in first place and eating them all week long made me feel like a winner.
The first half of the trip was all about sight seeing in St. Louis. We went to the Missouri Botanical Garden and oohed and ahhed over plants and flowers and trees and more plants. Nathan and his mother knew the full scientific names for just about everything we saw. I mostly just sniffed the blooming buds and took lots of photos.
I was given the responsibility of choosing a spot for lunch. This was no small feat, as I had to find something that would accommodate both a vegan diet, and a low carb/high bacon way of life. Luckily, the Local Harvest Cafe came to the rescue! They even had vegan chocolate espresso cupcakes. Everyone was happy.
After lunch we headed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Despite my distaste of all versions of Budweiser (one word: clamato) I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and left with a slightly better opinion of the Bud.
The real highlight of the trip, however, was chickens. Yes, chickens. Nathan's parents bought 10 acres of land and are in the process of building a home on it and starting up a little farm. So far, they have a large barn and house plans. While we were there, they added "chicken coop" to the list.
Nathan's dad wrote up plans for this coop and built it by hand. It is so fancy! When it's all put together the pen is attached to the coop and the little door on the end opens up with a ramp so the chicks can climb in and out at their leisure. Oh, to be a happy chicken!
And speaking of happy chickens, here is Nathan's mom holding one of her new babies. They should begin laying eggs in a month or two. She has 18 chickens in all and they will lay, on average, one egg per day. That's a lot of eggs and a lot chickens. Or is that a lot of chickens and a lot of eggs? I'm not sure which comes first. ;)
At any rate, I highly recommend Illinois in the summer time, and I thank you for reading about my travels!