Pambling Roads~~Ohio to Mississippi

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Pambling Roads ~~ Ohio to Mississippi



St.Louis Arch

     We have been quite a few places in the last few months and we continue to explore. One of the things we noticed was how badly the drought was affecting the local community. The scenery was breathtaking, we can’t even imagine how gorgeous it would have been if everything hadn’t been so dry.





We stayed at the La Quinta in Mansfield, Ohio

We were within walking distance of the Cracker Barrel and Applebee’s restaurants, both of which I have never eaten.

The La Quinta was a great stay, as usual. Their hot tub and pool were very enjoyable. We met a gentleman from Wisconsin who was staying at the inn. My husband and he struck up a conversation about construction, the space program, and of course, he answered multiple questions about Wisconsin. (Targeted for 2014)


The Applebee’s was refreshing. Like I said before, we had never eaten at an Applebee’s. They had excellent service and downright good food. Even though they were very busy, the atmosphere was relaxing and we did not feel as if we were being rushed. I believe the servers name was Sean.


We dined at the Cracker Barrel, which also was a first for us. They too had wonderful service and great food. I believe our server’s name was Becka or Rebecca. I apologize for not recalling her exact name; she was very good.


Ohio State Reformatory:



      The State Reformatory is an author’s goldmine of ideas for plots, mysteries, and suspense.

It was a prison/hospital/reformatory with some pretty great ghost stories to go along with it. Opening its doors in 1886, it closed in 1990. Over 250,000 square feet of gothic, 19th century architecture it is in the process of being renovated.

      The Reformatory has been used in films and music videos. Ghost tours are available. There is a conference room for meetings. If you want to go with the “Shackled” theme for your wedding, you can have your wedding and reception in the grand historic Guard Room.


Yes, it was eerie and has been spotlighted and investigated by paranormal activity/ghost hunters. Not sure why the picture above turned out that way. A few of the pictures don't seem to make any sense. There was nothing behind me or next to me to cause any shadows with reflection or anything like that, nothing in the way of the camera to make it appear that way. Look at the orb like reflections in this picture below, so very odd.





Our stay at the Best Western in Monticello, Illinois was a pleasant visit. They had an indoor heated pool that was huge. We had to use their printer and fax. No problems, no issues, they were very eager to assist us.


Monticello Red Wheel was nearby and a blessing. We were very happy with the speed of service, the great tasting food and excellent prices.



Right around the corner from the Best Western hotel is the Railway Museum. It has train displays and a history of the operating railway system. We were hoping to take the train tour, however, we were there mid-week. The train only runs on Saturday and Sunday.


We could not go to Illinois without going to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield. It is owned by the National Park Service. The area where the home is located has been beautifully renovated.

Lincoln’s home:



Lincoln’s Tomb and War Memorial State Site is located practically around the corner from the National Historic Home Site.


The New Salem Museum located in Petersburg, Ill was our next tour. It is a reconstructed area of the township of New Salem that Lincoln spent his earlier years in before he became involved in politics.

Oddly enough, this is where we learned what the expression “Where in Sam Hill did you find that?” means.



Going around the back roads we were able to see a lot of agricultural areas. Unfortunately, we also saw how bad the drought was affecting everyone. We did see some pretty huge wind farms. We also spent a considerable amount of time driving in circles looking for the Little Grand Canyon. Not sure how we kept missing the turn or what we were supposed to be looking for but we missed it and finally gave up.


Chester, Illinois was our next stop.



Guess what Chester, Illinois’ claim to fame is? Popeye! That’s right, I can hear the song now,

I’m Popeye the sailor man. Toot toot.

I’m Popeye the sailor man. Toot toot.
I'm strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach

I'm Popeye the sailor man. Toot toot.


E. C. Segar, the cartoonist who created Popeye and the rest of the cast, was born and raised in Chester, Illinois. The man who made every boy and girl want to eat spinach and be big and strong like Popeye. 

The next day after we arrived was Sunday. The Popeye museum wasn’t open so we were not able to spend any time there.


However, the Chester Welcome Center on Bridge Bypass Rd. near the Chester Bridge has a beautiful lookout over the Mississippi River and an informative section for Illinois and Chester. The lookout was awesome. I have never seen the Mississippi River. I could have stayed there for hours looking at it. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. A train went by while I was mesmerized by the Mississippi’s beauty. The driver honked and waved.



Don’t forget to take a picture of Popeye at the Chester Welcome Center. Also, if you drive around Chester, there are other statues of other famous characters created by Mr. Segar.




Best Western Reids Inn, Chester, Ill. Our stay was awesome. We had a nice view in the back of the hotel with a balcony, so very relaxing after driving for so long.


Reids Harvest House

The food at the restaurant was delicious. The employees were friendly and outgoing.


Fort Kaskaskia


Located in Ellis Grove, Illinois, it was a short drive to this site. We were able to get a great look at the Mississippi, walk around where the fort originally was, and see the Garrison Hill Cemetery. It was fascinating, literally walking around all that history.


Pierre Menard Home State Historic Site



     This home belonged to a prominent businessman and Illinois’ first lieutenant governor. It is a French Colonial Creole type architecture overlooks the Mississippi River. It has been dubbed the “Mount Vernon of the West”. Our guide was a little hesitant, reserved, at first, but once we started asking our questions, she seemed to be a bit more receptive to us.

She was telling us about living on one of the islands in the Mississippi when she was a child, and how the island has been flooded so much that most of the residents on the island have moved to the mainland.


Cohen Mansion

The house with the famous blue windows. (Mark Twain) We drove around for about a half hour looking for this house and could not find it. Hopefully, you may have better luck.


Before we left Chester to head to Arkansas, my husband took me over the Chester Bridge. I was thrilled. I had never been on the other side of the Mississippi River and it was my first time crossing it. Now I can say I have been west of the Mississippi and in Missouri!




Staying at the Best Western in Blytheville, Ark and at the Best Western in McGehee, our goal was to visit the area and enjoy the beauty of Arkansas. Both Best Westerns’ were great places to stay.

The Pizza Inn in McGehee was perfect. Good, friendly service and food.



We drove along the Great River Road. Although we were only on a few portions of it, it is a Scenic Byway along the Mississippi stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.



We visited and toured the Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, Arkansas. The sign at the entrance: Epstein land Company.

Wow! They are doing an excellent job with this home. The plantation is the only remaining plantation home on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. It was given to the Arkansas State University in 2001. It is a museum and educational center. They do allow tours while they continue with renovations and restoration.  At the time, the cotton plants were just starting to blossom. It was breathtaking.




Our very first impression of the state of Mississippi was Greenville and the River Road Queen Welcome Center. The ladies at the center were wonderful, friendly and very helpful. We felt truly welcome.




I had a lot of people tell me that they never stay in Mississippi but just drove through. Huge mistake on their part. What a beautiful state! We found that the people that we met and spoke with were very pleasant, polite, and friendly.

We crossed over the Yazoo River, too, another expression where I always wondered about the expression “Up the Yazoo”. Now I know.


We stayed at the LaQuinta in Starkville, MS. The employees were happy, very helpful, and enjoyed our dinner at Harvey’s Grill.


While in Mississippi, we visited the birthplace of Tennessee Williams in Columbus where he lived with his mother, sister, and grandparents. (Also a welcome center)




I have to say, we were supposed to be going to New Orleans, Louisiana. However, a hurricane, Isaac, I believe changed our plans.

We would love you to share your experiences with our readers. Tell us about your travels and what you would suggest as great places to visit.


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