Day 23/24: On the Road

Said goodbye to Mom and Dad (sniff, sniff) and hit the road. We were now just working our way across the rest of the country toward Boston.

It was a relatively uneventful day. The highlight of the day was a stop in a town called Casey. Cousin Sara had told us about it. I had not planned on the stop, but when I saw the road sign for Casey, I figured it was a good time to take a driving break. First we drove to the far end of town for the advertised “Popcorn Festival”. We had visions of multiple stands of different flavors of popcorn to taste – a Novak heaven. Turns out you get a free bag of popcorn as you walk around the Labor Day crafts fair. We were there before noon, so not much was going on. It looked like they had lots of food vendors and some carnival rides, but they were not open yet.

Then we went back into the heart of town to check out the biggest X. We could not find everything, but did see the biggest rocking chair, mailbox, pencil, ruler, wooden shoes, knitting needles, bird cage and wind chimes.

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What was really interesting was comparing Salem, Il. to Casey, Il. Both are small towns that developed through agriculture and oil. Casey is only 3,000 people while Salem is 8,000. But Casey is a much stronger community. Casey has capitalized on the idea of “if you build it, they will come”. There is a steady stream of visitors to the town to see all of these Guinness World Record size objects, and they are strategically placed in or near businesses to drive people in to buy stuff. The town had character, energy and a strong sense of community. While you could see that many businesses in the downtown area have shut down, there are others that are thriving. In comparison, it did not seem like Salem had much community investment in developing an identity or effort to revive it’s dying downtown.

Thought we would borrow this for homework on the road, but it won’t fit in the van!

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That evening we spent at Grandpa’s Farm RV Park in Richmond, Indiana. It was a small park, but had a really warm pool, pool tables, ping pong tables and even a few arcade games. We made dinner, went for a swim and prepped the van for bedtime. Shayna climbed into her penthouse and after about 10-15 minutes of thunder and lightening, she climbed into bed with me. I may have been a bit neurotic but I was afraid that our penthouse tent might be a bit exposed to the lightening, so I put the ladder in the grass and pulled down the tent about halfway. Then at about midnight, afraid rain would be getting inside, I popped it back up to close the flaps completely. Needless to say, the next morning the penthouse tent was quite wet – inside – ugh!

We dried what we could and hit the road again. Our destination was Canton, OH. My sister has a good friend who lives there who offered to host us. We had a great afternoon with Shelley. She showed us all over Canton. We were excited to stop by the President McKinley monument and museum, since Shayna attends a school named for President McKinley. We thought we would gather some information that might help us identify why her school was named for him. I think we figured out that is was probably more about timing than for any specific accomplishment. He was assassinated in 1901 and the school was built around 1912. There were not any major accomplishments during his administration.

Shelley has lived in Canton most of her life so she shared a lot about its history and the history of her family there. We had a really yummy dinner at an Asian restaurant and had dessert at the town’s most popular and oldest ice cream store, Taggerts, opened in 1926.

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