"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip 2015 - Westward Ho!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Westward Ho!

Our car packed, cups of coffee to go, we headed out and set the navigation system for Elgin, Illinois, our first stop on our trek west. Knowing it would be about a six hour drive, I had looked for a stopping point to have lunch and stretch our legs. I found the perfect place, Linton's Enchanted Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana.

Linton's is actually a huge nursery but they have creatively arranged their display of plants, trees and flowers around several miniature houses of all sorts. Actually the structures are not all that small but certainly not large enough to go inside except for the crazy house that is for kids with a slide they can play on and a swing.

This really would be an enchanted place for kids. Besides the playhouse, there is a petting zoo, a pond with a giant swan that is a paddle boat and a train that wasn't running that day but looks to follow the winding paths around the huge garden area. They can also buy a bag of "dirt" and pan for gems.

Inside is a large gift shop with lots of garden related products and a greenhouse area with plants and a macaw that won't let you pass without saying "Hello!". In the back corner of the store is the Garden Cafe that has a delicious assortment of sandwiches, soups, and sweets. A waterfall is right next to it giving you the feeling that you are outdoors. It's a very small area and filled up at lunch time while we were there. Some ladies (it seemed to be ladies lunch day) took their food out to the greenhouse area (I think they call it the conservatory) and ate on picnic benches there. The sandwiches we had were wonderful.

Back on the highway, we again turned west toward Chicago. I wondered if we would hit construction traffic. In all the years I traveled to a writer's conference in the Chicago area there was always construction. I wasn't disappointed. At least, I thought, it's not rush hour. We were passing through around 2:30. The closer we got, the grayer the skies became and the slower the traffic moved which I decided wasn't all that bad when the skies opened up and poured down upon us. At least we weren't going too fast. You couldn't see the city for the overcast skies and rain and the radio began talking about some areas being closed because of flooded ramps and streets. It's always a little nerve wracking to drive in bad weather in a place you are not familiar with.

Once we made it through the downtown area of Chicago, the sky began to clear and traffic moved a little better at times. Elgin is just outside the city near the airport. We were happy to see the Hampton Inn, our stopping point for the night. Bob found a spot to eat from Tripadvisor's list and we had a nice dinner topped off with Dunkin' Donuts coffee. We also topped off the gas tank so we'd be ready for the next day's journey.

So far, so good. We would now be heading into new territory for the two of us. We'd never been west of Chicago along this route.

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