Thursday, November 28, 2013

Starved Rock in Illinois? Pizza and Ice Cream in Iowa

After a couple of Thanksgiving meals I wanted to get out and do something. My Uncle Andy always has good tricks for Black Friday that I like to hear his stories about, but as those stories take place at 5 in morning I don't usually feel the need to participate. The recent trend of having Black Friday on Thursday night, though, had me interested. Sports Authority was having a promotion where the first 80 people in the door got a scratch off ticket that got them from 10-200 dollars in free stuff. Why not? It was pretty cold outside waiting in line, but we just put a blanket over our heads like a tent and watched some Netflix on our phones. It was just like camping!

We both got the $10 tickets, and spent them on things we didn't really need. It was fun.

My friends back home in Springfield, IL have an annual Thanksgiving tradition of going to the Pair-A-Dice river boat casino in East Peoria, IL. Part of the experience is going really late: after everyone is completely finished feasting with their families. The casino was pretty much as can be expected, with group members' fortunes shifting up and down constantly. My friend Fish forgot that his driver's license had expired and so was pitifully forced to wait outside the entire time. Bummer dude.

Well since being in Peoria already put us about 2.5 hours drive north of St. Louis, we decided to spend the night there and use it as a starting point for a little excursion. In the morning we were able to look out the hotel window and see Peoria's Thanksgiving Parade marching on by. It was a good omen for an eventful trip.

Once on the road, our first idea for a stop was Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The little country road to the park took us along the Illinois River and through numerous little towns. We stopped in one and had lunch. I believe a small amount of rocky road fudge may also have been purchased.

Unfortunately a big draw for the park is several waterfalls which are dry this time of year. It was still a very nice place to take a crisp little hike and see one's own breath. It was pretty windy and I hadn't brought headgear, so I had to make an emergency trip to the park's gift shop.

Lydia thinks my new hat makes me look like Wilfred.

I'd say that's fair.

From there, straight to Des Moine, IA! We had been looking for events to entertain us in Des Moine for the night, but not too much jumped out at us. One of us really wanted to go to the Festival of Trees, and one of us was pretty ambivalent at best. I'll leave who was who to your imagination, but off to the $8 a person Festival of Trees we went!

I wanted to try some Iowan food but the closest thing I could find was a local pizza and ice cream chain, Happy Joe's. We had pizza and ice cream, believe it or not.

To finish off a fun night we went to the local riverboat and killed a bit of time, and then off to bed we went.

 There were lots of sky-ways that connected the buildings downtown. The one that led to the casino was all Christmasy-Psychedelic. Check it out.

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