A Monday Federal Holiday is a good excuse for a day trip, even though we are retired. We traditionally take a leaf-peepers drive along the east side of the Illinois River, then over the river bridge at Lacon and through the country to Tanners Orchard. The popular autumn destination was especially busy this Columbus Day. But they handled the crowds well. We enjoyed our cider donuts, bought fudge and caramel corn, and scratched the heads of a few cheeky goats. Our second stop was another orchard shop near Hanna City called Christ Orchard. The Christ family farm is a smaller operation but no less charming and also quite busy. Moms and kids pulled wagons filled with hand-picked pumpkins–and young siblings. Loaded carts of autumn produce were ushered up to the checkout counter. We added Red Delicious apples, cider and a watermelon to the goodies accumulating in our trunk.
The weather was so beautiful in Central Illinois on Monday, we were not quite ready to go home. Passing through our own village and out the other end, we remained on Springfield Road south. Why not see the harvested fields and golden vines from the porches of Mackinaw Valley Vineyard? Getting there is half the fun. Route 9 through the Mackinaw River valley is always beautiful this time of year. The vineyard was open but quiet when we arrived, but we were more than welcome to stroll the grounds and take in the views.
Butch and I strolled down the avenues of turning vines. At the suggestion of one of the owners, we sampled random grapes that managed to avoid the harvest. I’m always intrigued by natural avenues. They beg to be walked. Enjoying the sun and toasted breezes smelling of corn harvest capped off the day perfectly , we thought. It was time to turn home to our own very personal destination.