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Madonna House and the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home

June 25, 2013

Illinois – Monday, June 17

I headed back into Illinois and drove along the Great River Road up to Quincy. Along the way I passed several rock quarries and other busy-looking agricultural loading/unloading places. I was also curious about a place where semi-trucks would drive down a hill and into a tunnel at the base of some of the limestone bluffs – it made me wonder what’s down there, and why they’re going underground!

I got to Quincy and it looked like a good walking town. Tula and I headed out for a mile, and then because it was a pretty warm day, she stayed in the air-conditioned van while I covered another 3+ miles. Tula seems to be doing pretty well overall, but the medication she’s on recommends avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, so I try to be extra careful about that on hot, sunny days. My AAA book said Quincy is known for its architecture, and there were certainly lots of interesting old houses and neighborhoods along my walk.

I ended up walking a little longer than I had planned, so when I got back I headed right for a grocery store to shop for my first donation today, which was going to the Madonna House – a safe place for homeless pregnant women, or women with custody of their young kids. I had read about them on their website, and tried calling to make sure their wish list was current, but no one had answered. So I just shopped from their list and ended up with a bunch of cereal, oatmeal, pasta and sauce, canned tuna and chicken, mac and cheese, and soup. Then I took the food over to the Madonna House, where I met Cindy and Megan. They were happy to get the food, because Madonna House has a food pantry as well, and they’ve seen an increased need with the flood and tornado problems this year. They told me there are 5 apartments in the house, which gives the families more of a home-like feeling than if all the residents were sharing the same space. They just finished adding a 6th apartment and as soon as it’s inspected, that one will be available as well. Madonna House just celebrated their 25th anniversary on Mother’s Day so they’ve helped a lot of people along the way, and I’m glad I found them!

Then I headed over to the Old Soldiers and Sailors Home, which is now simply called the Illinois Veterans Home, but I like their original name better! It was built back in 1886 for veterans of the Civil War. They just happened to be in Quincy too, so it turned into a 2-donation day. The veterans home was located on extensive grounds, and they welcomed visitors. There was an old Huey helicopter, and a Red Cross jeep and a tank on display, as well as a military museum (which turned out to be closed on Mondays). There were lots of buildings and I went in the wrong one at first, and then found the right place, and I met a lady who could take my donation. After I explained what I was doing, she excused herself, and to my surprise she came back with the staff photographer, and we went out and took a couple pictures by the helicopter, which will go into their newsletter. She told me I was welcome to wander around, so Tula and I set off for a little walk and it was very enjoyable. We ran across an interesting eternal flame sort of memorial that was erected by WW1 veterans, a Vietnam Memorial (even Tula stood at attention!) and the original entry gate from 1886. I was about ready to leave, and then I saw a road I had missed, so I got out for a little more walking, and unexpectedly came upon a deer park (with llamas in there too) and a pen with a couple of buffalo! I was glad I had left Tula in the car for that short walk!

Before I left Quincy, I stopped in Washington Square, which was the site of one of the Lincoln/Douglas debates before the 1860 presidential elections. The other bit of trivia I learned was that Washington Square was originally called John Square – so there was John Square in the town of Quincy in Adams County – clearly they were fans of John Quincy Adams! And then I went down by the riverfront, but didn’t find much of a trail, and it was kind of wet down there anyway. But I did see more barges – I think those of us who don’t live near major rivers don’t realize how much freight is transported by barge!

So I finally left town and continued north. We stopped in the little town of Warsaw, which was also by the river, and got another mile of walking in. And then I headed toward Nauvoo. Before I got there though, I passed a sign for Nauvoo State Park, and there was also a campground, and since it was evening, I pulled in to have a look. It wasn’t a very big park or campground, but it was very neat and well kept, and it wasn’t crowded. I decided that I would camp, and I crossed my fingers that the mosquitoes and bugs wouldn’t be too bad. The little office just asked people to self-register, so I chose our campsite and registered. I got everything set up without any trouble from mosquitoes, and closed up the van, and Tula and I took another short walk around the park to finish off our 8 miles for the day. As it was getting dark, the mosquitoes came out, so we retreated to the van, and I kept the windows shut for quite a while so the bugs would stay out, and it got pretty warm inside. Once it was totally dark, I cracked open the windows and that cooled things off. In the end, the bugs weren’t so bad, and I actually needed my quilt before morning!

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One Comment
  1. It was great meeting you. đŸ™‚ Enjoy your journey

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