Fun, fun, fun in Illinois

I spent just under 2 weeks with my friends in Illinois.  I had an absolutely fantastic time and if you’ve read my recent blog posts, you will see some of the things I got up to.  But there was SO much more…

Villa Marie Winery
We visited a wine farm out in the countryside.  It has quite a nice history – boy meets girl, falls in love, gets married, they have a daughter. The daughter starts the winery in honour of her mother, Mary.  The focus is on making wine from local produce and all grapes come from Jersey, Macoupin, and Madison counties in Illinois.  They are open for dinner and lunches but check the website for opening times.  They are also a GREAT location for weddings.
http://www.thevillamariewinery.com

Enjoying some chilled wine on the terrace.

Looking out over a pretty lake with a central gazebo perfect for weddings, we sat on the terrace enjoying a nice bottle of chilled white wine.

The pretty lake with central gazebo

The Playground
I also spent a wonderful afternoon with 9 yr old Ethan playing in the local playground.  I seemed to rediscover the child in me…

The playground

We climbed, we jumped, we hung, we slid and we bounced.

Rediscovering my inner child.

A very big thank you to Ethan who made the experience truly enjoyable.

Ethan near the playground

The Property
We also had the opportunity, through friends of my hosts, to spend time at a place mysteriously called ‘The Property’.

The Lake at ‘The Property’

It is a lakeside house with a nearby undercover terrace, fire pit and small quad bike track.  The friends had kindly allowed us to use the quad bike. This was VERY exciting for me as I had never driven one before and once I got the hang of it, it was VERY hard to get me off again.  I spent the afternoon sharing the track with Ethan until it got too dark to ride and we were both too spooked out to head into the bushes.

Having fun on the quad bike

I saw my very first racoon, even though it was a baby.  We spent the whole afternoon and evening chilling out and chatting (when I wasn’t on the quad bike).

My first Racoon

Chatting by the fire pit

The Amish
We visited a traditional Amish village about 2 hours away and in central Illinois.  Driving through it was interesting as you saw the Amish people on their bicycles or in their horse buggies.

An Amish horse buggy on the road

For those who don’t know, and with a little help from Wikipedia, the Amish people… “are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. The history of the Amish church began with aschism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish.”

Amish People

They don’t use electricity, cars, telephones or any modern technology.  They value spending time with friends and family and lead a very simple life.  There was something quite appealing about it.  We visited Rockome Gardens in the village which has a little gift shop, ice cream shop and restaurant.  We also did a horse and buggy ride which was fun, if a little short. It was really interesting to learn about the Amish and their way of life.

A buggy ride around the gardens

Dinner on the Mississippi
We had a lovely evening driving along the mighty Mississippi River and ended up having dinner overlooking a small yacht mole.  So beautiful.

Dinner on the banks of the Mississippi

I had a pulled pork bun for dinner and maybe one or two drinks.

Cardinals Game
I watched the 2011 major league baseball world champions, the St Louis Cardinals, play a game on their home ground, Busch Stadium.  Sadly, they lost :-( (Just for clarification, this was in St Louis which is in Missouri but it is only a 20 minute drive from where I was staying in Troy, Illinois)

Enjoying a Cardinals Game at Busch Stadium

I drank the most amazing peanut butter milkshake (courtesty of Ethan).

I enjoyed a delicious buffet of American food (courtesy of Liz).

I made new friends who are now Facebook friends.

I enjoyed lots of quality time with my friends and had a really, really good time.

Make sure you check out the Photo Gallery on this website for more photos of my time in Illinois.

A big thank you to Venessa, Chris, Ethan and Caleb for having me in their home and taking me out to exciting places to make my trip more enjoyable.

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