With the rare opportunity for a Saturday afternoon ride, we carefully considered our lunch options. Since I was thinking a little outdoor dining sounded good and we had not yet eaten there, Catalpa Grove Tavern was the obvious choice.
Our tires hummed along the highway, and I soon found myself lost in the rhythm of the ride, easing into a peaceful groove. As the last of my cares dissolved in the wind, we rounded the last corner into Toulon and the Catalpa Grove parking lot.
The “outdoor” bar hadn’t yet opened for the day, so we grabbed two stools at the large U-shaped main bar and explored the menu.
The main dining area at Catalpa Grove Tavern in Toulon, Ill., has a large bar and quite a bit of natural light.
We saw it coming a week away — 50-plus degree weather in early February! It was just too good to pass up, so I took a mental health day from work and anticipated the ride.
Of course, when the day finally came, it was breezier than the forecast had promised, which meant it was much cooler, too. Unwilling to give up my much-needed wind therapy session but knowing I’d hate being out in the cold, we decided to keep our plans but stay closer to home. The only logical destination was just outside Peoria: Ludy’s Kickapoo Creek Saloon.
On warm summer mornings, we often ride early to enjoy some quality wind time before returning home to take care of all that pesky work that comes with a big yard. Those days, our Ride to Eat destination is always the same: Brasky’s Bar & Grill.
Conveniently located just north of Route 6 on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria, Brasky’s is a casual bar with good food and a great staff. And it’s our neighborhood place, which is why we frequent it on Sundays for a quick lunch between parking the bike and tackling the yard. Well, that and fantastic Sunday specials! Continue reading
As an English major and a writer, I have been intrigued by the Spoon River Drive since we moved here more than 15 years ago. Every year, I say, “This is the year we’re going to check it out.” And every year, it comes and goes before I realize it. But once we got the bike, I knew I would finally be able check that item off my to-do list — and check it, I did.
IL 78 heading toward Havana and the Illinois River Valley.
It all happened as a result of the hubby seeing an installment of WEEK-TV’s You Gotta Eat highlighting a place in Norris called Tracy’s Supper Club. I have since learned that Tracy’s is a rebirth of the bar and restaurant that was formerly called Viano’s, an area favorite with a 75-year history. The owners maintained as much of the establishment’s old charm as they could, right down to restoring the vintage bar. Continue reading
Peoria, Ill. to Cedar Lake, Ind.
What a crazy summer it’s been! The short version is that our poor bike — like this blog — was ignored for way too long. I’m ashamed to admit how long I went between rides, but I will say that I am really glad we took that three-day ride over Memorial Day weekend. Since I don’t have a lot of adventures from this summer to write about, I decided it’s about time I shared the story of last summer’s epic trip around Lake Michigan.
It was exactly 199 days before we left that Wally proposed the idea to me: Let’s ride the bike around Lake Michigan and see as many lighthouses as we can along the way. I was shocked to find myself agreeing to it, but then, he did have to deal with my questions. Continuous. Daily. Highly detailed. Questions. Questions about questions. And, even more questions. He was a trooper — and driven.
We bought a large print atlas to explore and plan our route. We researched cities, landmarks, activities and events along the way. We spent hours upon hours on the computer, fine tuning our plan to one of perfection. It would be six nights, seven days and an average of about 250 miles a day, which would allow for plenty of sightseeing stops. Continue reading
The weather was a bit iffy this particular Sunday, but we really wanted to get some wind time before embarking on a major house project we’d been putting off for a while. After making sure all our rain gear was in the bags, just in case, we decided to check out the new BikerSpot advertiser in Bartonville, Sportz Nutz Bar & Grill.
Since Bartonville is just a short ride from our house, going directly there would never have been enough wind therapy to tide us over. So, we made an adventure out of it, deciding to make our way to Meadows Avenue Tap in East Peoria first. We had never been there before and wanted to check it out — a sort of reconnaissance mission for a future article.
Who wouldn’t be curious after seeing this sign?
It was finally time … time for our first ride of the season! After seeing the sunshiny forecast earlier in the week, I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to get some wind. The forecast actually was right (and the ice had finally melted off the driveway), so we geared up and hit the road.
Our initial thought was to check out this little diner-like setup we noticed on a previous ride through Henry. Of course, we forgot to check its hours before leaving the house, but it was all good. We figured we’d eat lunch there if that was an option; if not, we could at least check it out a bit and then look for food elsewhere.
Like we normally do when we head north out of town, we worked our way along a series of wonderfully low-traffic county roads toward Henry. Smiling widely as I took in the deep blueness of the sky, I suddenly noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Continue reading
Rewind to 10 days before Christmas (especially if you read my holiday post). It was Sunday, December 14, and it was 52 degrees outside. In Illinois! We both not only wanted to ride … we needed to ride. So, we geared up — me in no less than five layers — and headed out, much to the chagrin of our two dogs who were becoming a little too accustomed to our being home on Sundays.
Now, it was 52 degrees outside; however, you should know I tend to wear sweaters when it’s 70, so it was no small feat for Wally to get me out in the middle of December. One big advantage he had was that it was in the low 50s for much of our summer vacation around Lake Michigan in August (watch for many posts on that ride to come), which means I had learned to deal with it more than in the past. Continue reading
Well, the holidays are in the home stretch, and it’s been a great time so far! Christmas Day was especially memorable this year as the lack of snow and relatively decent temperature made it possible to get some wind. That’s right — Wally and I geared up and took a short ride in the heart of the day.
It all started 10 days earlier on a beautiful 50-plus degree Sunday in December. We, like most local riders, felt more than an urge to ride … it was an obligation, a duty to enjoy the nearly perfect, nearly winter day. About 10 minutes into the ride, I suggested that we listen to Christmas music since it was such a rare opportunity to do so. Next thing I knew, we were pulling over and switching genres to “Holiday.” That ride was so much fun; it actually felt like Christmas for the first time all year. (Look for more on that lunch destination in a future post.) So, we decided to try it again if the weather cooperated. Continue reading
Sometimes, you want a good burger. Other times, you want a great burger. That’s exactly how I felt when I woke up on this particular Sunday morning. In fact, I thought about it quite a bit that whole week … that is, I did after I realized Sunday Funday’s destination for the afternoon — Nowhere Bar & Grill in Victoria, Illinois.
From where the hubby and I live in Peoria, it’s not that far of a drive to Victoria, so we decided to extend the trip for a full day with our knees in the breeze. After some discussion of options, we decided to make a return trip to the Wolf Covered Bridge in rural Knox County, a place we’d visited the summer before with the old Vulcan.
After a short ride on I-474 to US 150 (War Memorial Drive), we headed west for a few miles, turning left on Kickapoo-Edwards Road. Outside Edwards, we took W. Southport Road (Route 8) for about 20 miles before hanging a right on Knox Road 1900 East, going even deeper into farm country. Now, what you need to know about me is that I grew up riding around on county roads, discussing life and the world with my dad. While the back roads are mostly gravel where I’m from, the paved county roads in Illinois provide the perfect opportunity to re-live the slow, easy pace I so fondly recall. So, there we were surrounded by fields and the wind and the sound of the engine below us. It was perfect peace. Continue reading