Enjoying a family road trip
Aug. 22, 2016
by Jenni Sebora

Due to activities and a change in plans, we did not make our family trip to Boston; this will have to wait for next summer. However, we wanted to fit in some quality family away time, so a road trip it was.

We trekked to Galena, IL, a nostalgic, historic little city with a population of just over 3,400, but packed with historical charm. Galleries, boutiques, bed and breakfast inns, coffee houses, cafes, and restaurants pack this small town.

We walked the main street, that brings one back to yesteryear. We purchased some chocolates at a local candy store; and tried a variety of jams, jellies, butters, and spreads at a local canning shoppe. Strawberry-rhubarb butter (not jelly) was our purchase; it is absolutely scrumptious.

I don’t go on any trip without a visit to a coffee shoppe. I love to try local one-of-a-kind charismatic coffee houses, and that we did. We enjoyed some coffee and tea drinks at a European-style coffee house. It had such charm, filled with local art, and tasty pastries, homemade gelato, and paninis.

We had a wonderful late-afternoon dinner at General’s Restaurant DeSoto House Hotel, named in honor of Galena’s nine Civil War generals. The hotel itself was beautiful, and the food and ambience were fantastic.

President and General Grant’s house is located in Galena and open to the public for tours, as well as the grounds that surround it.

Of course, my son and I found a bookstore that we visited, as well. You never know what you will find in these small, hometown bookstores.

The next day, we hit the road and moved on to Madison, WI, to visit my husband’s cousin and tour the Madison campus.

As with the University of Minnesota, Madison has more than 40,000 students (The U of M’s enrollment is larger than Madison’s), including graduate students and other professional degree students. The campus is huge and is considered a public Ivy League school. It is a wonderful school with a beautiful campus, with Lake Mendota on its perimeter.

A freshman coming in has to be pretty self-motivated to attend such a large school, as with any other large campus. I believe that the statistics for freshman dropout and/or transfer from Madison is around 50 percent.

Since my husband is from Wisconsin and is a Badger fan, as well as a Gopher fan, we purchased some Badger apparel. Wisconsin loves its Badgers. I like the color red, although I like maroon and gold better.

The next day, our adventures took us to Chicago for a few days, where we put in about 10 miles each day of walking. So, when we ate some cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, I didn’t feel guilty.

We stayed on the Miracle Mile, so we were close to many attractions, stores, and restaurants.

This time, in Chicago, our goal was to see the Bean, which we have seen before; and then to visit Navy Pier, which is one of the top spots to visit in the Midwest.

It was a great road trip, with lots of great conversations between our children, my husband, and myself.

We toured a quaint little town, a larger city with a small-town feel to it, and then the big city. There was good stuff in each setting.

We ate some good food, enjoyed great weather and scenery, took some afternoon catnaps, but mostly, enjoyed each other’s company – the best of all.

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