There are few signs that communicate the immanent arrival of summer quite like Memorial Day weekend, the day we remember all of the fallen soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For us, happiness comes from the liberty to hop in the car and drive. So logically, to celebrate our freedoms, that’s exactly what we did complete with our bluegrass musicians Uncles John and Eli. Using the democratic process we voted on Southwest and then unilaterally decided to ignore the vote and head in an entirely different direction. After getting somewhat lost heading in a north easterly direction we discovered a marina on the banks of the Mississippi River and another one and another which gave us the sinking suspicion that we were not going to get any further east. But oh how wrong we were.
No sooner did we reach what appeared to be a dead end we encountered a long line of bikes and cars all waiting for something. What? We did not know. We got out of the car and asked one of the other drivers what was going on and they pointed us to a sign for the Grafton Ferry. Oh! This is where it is! We had heard about this but had never boarded it. For only $8 we were able to drive our car right onto the boat across to Grafton. Having no clear destination in mind, we decided this was a winning proposition. And once again we exercised our freedom to travel to another state.
From there we reached another cross roads but knowing that we weren’t ready to head home and that we needed to find a place to cook dinner we headed North and discovered Pere Marquette State Park. This park is worthy of at least several blog posts which I will not ruin by giving any spoilers here. Perhaps we are the stereotypical tourists but we fell for the “scenic drive” sign baiting us deep into the park. I am not ashamed of this choice at all because what we found atop the hill was one of the most spectacular views of the Mississippi River Valley to be found anywhere in America.
But after our quick “hike” to the top of this scenic overlook, it was time to fire up the grill and have some St. Louis Pork Steaks, home made potato salad, apples, cucumbers, cheese and some cold beverages.
We headed back to the picnic grounds at the park and grilled one of the most delicious meals we’ve ever had on a Sunday Drive. While I tended the fire, the boys got to play on the playground with our Bluegrass musicians doubling as mannies. There was a man using a metal detector in the playground and a small hoard of children were following him around as he would point out the location of buried treasure. One little girl spent 20 minutes digging in the mulch and was so excited to find a silver dollar- until she realized it was only a washer that a builder had dropped and left it lying in the dirt.
Once the fire had died down, it was time to pack up. We took the Great River Road South toward the Alton Bridge. Along the way, Clarence was enjoying a pack of fruit snacks when the winds sucked his empty package out the window. For 10 minutes we tried to convince him that he didn’t need to feel bad for littering since it was an accident. Eventually, everyone fell asleep and the remaining 30 minutes were a true pleasure.
I couldn’t plan a better Sunday Drive if I tried and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our freedoms.
Until next time, Thanks for liking, sharing, and subscribing and as always, thanks for driving with us!