Travel

To be continued…

The Nike Missile Site

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First off, I want to say I hope you’ve all been feeling much better than I have. I’ve been down with “classic gallbladder disease symptoms” as the doctor put it. My hopes of visiting Shawnee and spending Palm Sunday at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace were sadly put on hold. Since I couldn’t be far from home and was basically just laying around imagining my chicken broth was a giant bacon cheese burger, I spent time reading up on the abandoned Nike Missile site in my area.

My research told me it is completely surrounded by a barbed wire fence, but there is a large opening on the west side. That is true. It was tempting, but my ever so wise daughter talked me out of entering illegally. “Mom, you love state parks!” So, what’s a girl do when she really wants to get inside somewhere, but doesn’t feel it’s worth the risk of being jailed, fined, or worse? She asks permission!

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How I could’ve gotten in.

I was able to photograph the radar station.

 

And these strange holes??

 

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to share. Overall, it’s been a pretty bummed out week! Spring sprung with a light dusting of snow and incredibly chilly weather. Good notes from the weekend are I’m feeling a little better, I witnessed my mother-in-laws baptism today, Shawnee isn’t going anywhere, and I may get legal access to photograph and learn more about this site. I won’t be able to possibly visit again until Thursday.

Regardless of whether I do or don’t, the view I have on the way there will never be depressing!

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The Illinois River bluffs.

 

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Travel

Saying goodbye to a hero…

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I normally write about my own travels, but this time, I was not the one traveling. Today, I witnessed law enforcement, EMT’s, first responders, and firemen from all across the state, flood the small town of Murrayville, Illinois.

Murrayville has a population of around 700 people and was home to local hero, F. Scot Fitzgerald. Officer Fitzgerald was in a car accident while responding to a call and passed shortly after.

If you could ask him, he would claim he was just an average man and that’s how he came across. Never above anyone, always humble.

When we passed the church during visitation, I couldn’t help but think, the turnout was more than he would’ve ever expected. On the way out of town, we saw volunteers placing flags along the roadside. The flags would be placed from South Jacksonville, the village where he was an officer, all the way to the cemetery in Murrayville. Larry “The Flag Man” Eckhardt, who lives in Little York, has been honoring heroes in this way since 2006.

I can tell you, driving a flag lined road is surreal. There were two types of drivers on that route today, those who drove fast to get wherever they were going before it was closed and those like me who drove incredibly slow, still a little in disbelief. People young and old, whether they personally knew Scot or not, stood along the roadside to pay their respects. I watched young men in their teens go from kicking gravel and being ornery, to standing with their hats over their hearts as the hearse passed by.

I was able to hold myself together until I saw my Scott County boys. I felt for them deeply and was taken back to a close call situation regarding a shooting in another of our small towns. Towns such as Winchester, Manchester, Alsey, Murrayville, Woodson, along with others, are like communities within the Jacksonville community. Most of us do the majority of our shopping and work in the big town of  Jacksonville, population roughly 20,000. This is a close knit area where we literally know almost everybody. We pray together, love together, and at times like this, we mourn together.

I often entertain ideas about moving to the Gulf. Biloxi, maybe Fort Morgan. How wonderful it would be to wake up every morning with sand in my sheets and an unobstructed sunrise. Days like this make me proud to be from a little town you’ve probably never heard of.

Scot leaves behind a wife and two young children. If you believe in prayer, it would be much appreciated.

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Travel

My Illinois ♥

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