What is it with me and road trips lately? To put this latest story into context, go to google maps before you read this and ask for directions from China to Taiwan. Look at instruction #55. Keep this in mind as you read on.
Drew and I made a quick visit to Illinois this weekend, our first attempt to find a college that is the perfect blend of academics, men’s tennis and culture. While we discovered quickly that this school wasn’t it, it was a nice visit — and it turned out to be a totally fun adventure. Our original plan was to make a quick side jaunt to Metropolis and see the Superman monument after we finished with the college. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we were both tired after the visit and decided to go home.
This is where google maps comes into play. Because I had looked up all of our directions ahead of time, I didn’t have a planned route home from campus. Given what I knew about #55, wouldn’t you think that I’d hesitate to get my directions from the same source that instructs its users to swim across the Pacific Ocean? But guess what I did? Yep, you got it. I opened google maps on my iPhone, used the gps to find my current location and asked for directions home. While it didn’t tell us to swim across the Pacific, it took us on a maze of obscure county roads the entire way home. I am not kidding when I tell you that we were only on the interstate for a total of the last 16 miles of the trip. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere for the better part of two hours. And it was awesome. The scenery was beautiful, peaceful, and filled with surprises. Here was the best surprise of all:
Chester, Illinois. Home of all things Popeye. Including a Popeye museum…
… and Popeye character sculptures scattered all over town, sixteen in all.
Here’s the funny part. This had been on my roadsideamerica.com “to visit with the kids” list for ages. I didn’t realize where we were until we came to a four-way stop and saw the museum. Omigosh!! Are you kidding?? The museum was awesome. It wasn’t very big, but every square inch was packed with Popeye memorabilia. It was mind-boggling. Inside and out, no detail was too small. Check out the mural on the back of the building.
And the bases of the support beams of the stairs and the door to the cellar.
Appropriately, Popeye’s sculpture had the most fantastic setting in town. He overlooked this:
Here’s Drew with his new friend. (Of course he didn’t have a clue who Popeye was.)
What a great little town. We ventured all over the place. Of course not everything was museum-worthy…
I hope that every campus visit is this much fun. And given that we don’t live by an ocean, I might even use google maps again the next time we want an adventure.