A travel day

Yesterday (Sunday) was mostly spent putting miles between us and Ohio. We traveled from the aforementioned Brownsburg, IN to Decorah, IA.

We feel that we are going to Sri Lanka as cultural ambassadors and we unwittingly scheduled a trip that reminds us of the vast US outside Ohio. First, we were impressed once more with the enormous agricultural potential of the Midwest. From Mount Vernon, OH to Decorah, IA the scenery is a virtually unchanging panorama of corn and soybean fields. Second, we stopped for lunch rather randomly in Ogden, IL. We had been lured off the road by a sign for a steakhouse. We followed the signs through a small dusty town to a rather rundown looking restaurant with no one in the parking lot. Closed on Sunday. Probably a good thing, we decided, based on the looks of the restaurant. So we made our way back to the freeway where we found ourselves at Lincoln’s Home Restaurant. Here we found the local get-a-bite-after-church crowd. Boy was it a slice of Americana. Our waitress was practical and down-to-earth, no pretensions of fancy service, just get the job done. She was bright and cheerful and knew pretty much all of her customers’ names (except those of us who just wandered in off the freeway). It was a jolly group all round. The food was straightforward. Since we had been looking for a steakhouse, I ordered the steak breakfast, a rib-eye steak with toast and two eggs on top, and American fries. It was a meal from the 1950’s, before we all learned about cholesterol.

We did one bit of sightseeing along the way and ended up staying too long. Tom Greenslade pointed out that our route took us by Jubilee College. Jubilee College is connected to Kenyon by the fact that the two colleges share the same founder, Bishop Philander Chase. Chase, a rather rigid personality, was evicted from the leadership at Kenyon College and he went into semi-retirement. But the frontier moved West and Bishop Chase was brought out of retirement to serve as bishop of Illinois. One of his acts was to establish another college, Jubilee. Unlike Kenyon which came close to bankruptcy during and just after the Civil War, Jubilee College did fail at that time. The stone building which housed Jubilee was used for various purposes for sometime after that, but eventually the land was acquired by the State of Illinois and it is now a state park. A private group undertook to restore the building and to furnish it with period items and succeeded nicely. The chapel, offices, dorm rooms, and classrooms look as fully equipped now as they likely would have been then. The park itself looks like a great place for a picnic as well. We were given a tour that turned out to be just the two of us of the interior. The docent is now the head curator, but was the assistant curator when he met Tom Greenslade and remembers his visit well. There is a cloud on the horizon however. State budget shortfalls threaten to close down the park and the restored college building. Kris suggested that it would be a good thing if Kenyon alums from Illinois took it upon themselves to lobby to keep Jubilee open.

On the web, there appeared to be no chain motels in Decorah, so we picked a bed and breakfast to stay in, the B&B on Broadway. Decorah has a historical district with some lovely houses of many styles. The B&B on Broadway is said to be an American Victorian house. The owners poured over $200,000 into remodeling the place and did a wonderful job. Our room (The King’s Chambers, AKA Room 4) has a beautiful, modernistic, bathroom with one of those new showers that has nozzles at several heights off the floor. (Interesting sensation, but probably not very “green” with all that water shooting out. ) All the beds are new memory foam mattresses and have down comforters. They did something very interesting. The house, with its lovely oak wood trim, is just perfect to display antique furniture and they have some very lovely pieces in all the rooms. However, they very smartly purchased new furniture for pieces that got the heaviest use, so guests would not feel like they were treading on eggshells around the antiques. The trick is that they chose new and old that blend well together so the furnishings do not look schizophrenic. We arrived late and, having lost an hour to the change in time zone, collapsed into bed.

Tim

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