The weekend after our Galena adventure, we wanted to ride but didn’t require anything too long as we needed to get some work done around the house and yard. Wally suggested we try a place for dinner that we had driven by a lot last summer and he remembers stopping at once when he was a kid — the Midway Duck in on IL 26 between Lacon and Spring Bay.
To make the ride interesting, we thought we’d weave our way north through the countryside toward Lacon. Starting on IL 40, we shortly turned west onto Truitt Road, which cuts across to Chillicothe; however, we only stayed on it for a few miles, until we hit N Krause Road, which connects to the historic Galena Trail and Coach Road route.
Now, we’d taken the Galena Trail and Coach Road (officially Blue Ridge Road/Co Hwy 16) a few times, so we were a bit more familiar with it than most back county roads. You wind your way up and down hills and around curves through wonderfully serene country views you can’t believe are right outside Peoria. Eventually, you find Blue Ridge, which is a tiny town with a few houses and a church. Just past that is the first stop on our tour — the stump carver right before the turn onto La Prairie Road.
It’s such an unexpected find in what feels like the middle of nowhere. The Stump Carver displays quite a bit of his work out by the road and what looks to be a little workshop/shed. I was particularly taken with the dragon and Gandolf-looking fellow; of course, it didn’t really make sense to say, “Dracarys!” to Smaug! (Yep, I’m that kind of nerd!) After looking at a few pieces, Wally decided he wants to hire him to make a frog out of the apple tree stump in our backyard — we’ll see.
From there, we took La Prairie all the way to IL 17 E, which led us all the way to Sparland, where we crossed the Illinois River to Lacon. In the middle of Lacon, we turned right onto IL 26, heading south. Always a beautiful ride, the river road did not disappoint. It was late enough the heat wasn’t oppressive, but the sun still shone on the water. The tree cover had finally taken hold, so the road boasted this glorious green canopy. I was just getting into the ride when we arrived at our destination.
The Midway Duck Inn isn’t hard to find, but you really wouldn’t expect it to be there. But, once I saw it, I was all in. The parking lot was full, the beer garden was active, and the wait was nonexistent (if you wanted to sit at the bar like we did). My initial thought was that it reminded me of home (Nebraska). In fact, Wally noted you could probably drop the place in any of the small towns near my own, and it would fit in wonderfully. I, of course, agreed whole heartedly.
After securing a couple cold beers, we perused the menu and ordered, then looked around. The bar was a big oval, and the surface was angled like a race track, which is great for going 200 miles per hour but not so much for the safety of a beer. Fortunately, the bartender quickly laid down some placemats that kept everything where it was supposed to be.
The food came quickly enough. First up was a salad and mini loaf of bread. What a coincidence that was! We had just been talking how we needed to stop for bread on the way home (to make toast for breakfast) when I spotted the mini loaf on another table. Too cute! We immediately planned to take it home with us.
For dinner, I went for the catfish, and it looked awesome! The presentation was way more than I expected, and it tasted great. The breading was crunchy yet light enough to not dominate the fish. Wally had the chopped sirloin which he enjoyed but liked even better when they brought out his sautéed mushrooms and onions — that made his meal! We definitely were not disappointed in this dining decision.
After paying our bill (modest for a Saturday night), we were back on the bike. Traveling south on IL 26, we soon connected with IL116 and were across the river on US 150 and headed back toward home on IL 29 in no time. The trip up 29 is always entertaining with the narrows, barges, boats, and various sights along the way. We actually joke that the area would be a perfect venue for a Steven Segal movie: You have Segal’s character drive a car off Grandview Drive, which crashes through a semi on 29 before he jumps onto a train passing by and hurling himself onto the barge with the bad guys. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: That’s not a Segal movie, it’s a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie!
Overall, the evening was perfect. We got some wind time, a great dinner, and arrived home for a few drinks on the patio before bed. If you’re ever looking for a short yet fulfilling ride, this route is a sure bet.