CCC Lodge Near Grafton, IL
Just As We Remembered
This is what Don and I were both eager to see! It had been a few decades since our last stay. We were glad to see few changes in the grand open space with log beams and comfy lodge furniture and the giant chess board! The only new addtions were the sort of odd "patchwork leaf quilts" hanging from the beams.
All we needed was cold weather so we could enjoy a fire in the massive 50- foot limestone fireplace. No fire, but we could still enjoy the big green chairs!
And More Chairs!
I had forgotten how many sitting areas there were! There were rattan chairs gathered around a tabletop game of shuffle board...
The Historic Wing
We hiked up a flight to room 222 in the Historic Wing.
There have been lots of renovations since the lodge was completed in 1940. We like old, so we didn't want a room in the new addition. Sadly the only thing that hinted at old, were the windows. It was nice having an updated flat screen TV and a decent bed, but I was kind of hoping for some log beams or some of that big chunky lodge furniture. Or how about a picture on the wall. I think they forgot?
But the windows were great, offering a view of the Illinois River along with a warm fall breeze! And we had the added treat of champagne and chocolates, as well as a $50. voucher for dinner. I'll admit, our package was more about numbers than romance. We were on a 22-day road trip after all. We just did the calculating and this was the best deal.
What the room lacked in rustic decor, it made up for with good bathroom counter space and a checkerboard table with checkers! It even had a Kuerig coffee maker, which was a surprise in a State Park owned lodge. We never expect frills.
Then and Now
Don and I stayed at Pere Marquette in the fall of 1985. I remember sitting in Adirondack chairs on the back terrace. It was a little cooler and we had the place to ourselves, staring out over the sloping lawn to the Illinois River.
The Adirondacks have been replaces by metal tables with umbrellas. I missed sitting in those old wooden chairs, but the view was just the same.
Plus, I had a place to put my glass of wine when I took a photo.
And then I had my turn to pose.. on the very log where we propped our feet, years ago.
Dining at The Lodge
On a Sunday evening the dining room was packed with families feasting on fried chicken and other lodge favorites. The place was thinning out when we arrived after sunset and we could tell the staff was ready for "Apple Festival Day" to be over. I was eager to try the Goat Cliff Soup, I'd heard about. Our server nearly sneered as he told me there was no such thing. Maybe that just means Soup of the Day? I was afraid to ask again. I ordered pot roast and Don ordered salmon. It was tasty and the seats were so comfy we wanted to linger forever. But we took the hints from the yawning staff and moved along.
Don and I made it a point to amuse ourselves by asking her questions every time she came to our table. I don't believe she ever had 2 feet on the ground at once. She answered every question with one sentence as she moved away from our table. I'm not sure why she was in such a hurry? There was hardly anyone there.
Admiring the Fireplace
We spent a little time studying the stone fireplace with all the harvest decor. I hope our waitress didn't hear me complaining. I love real pumpkins and wheat, but I get really tired of cutesy scarecrows and fake leaves. You know you've been on the road for 9 days when you start getting picky about things like that.
Let me end with some photos from our morning walk, before we checked out. Pere Marquette is an absolutely beautiful State Park.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!