Well, we spent the weekend in Bloomington-Normal for our 6th anniversary. It was really fun to get away for the weekend and explore another nearby city.
We left Saturday morning for the hour drive to Bloomington. It was nice to have some time to just talk and not have housework or homework to think about. Once we got to the Bloomington-Normal area, we drove around and explored the Illinois State University campus and surrounding area. Then we had breakfast at a tasty place called "The Coffeehouse & Deli." It reminded us of a coffeehouse one might find in the Bay Area or Portland. I had the Organic Granola with Yogurt and a Soy Latte to go along with my Bay-Area-Healthy-Hippy vibes. Nathan was excited to have a big omelette and toast. Boy loves his breakfast foods.
We saw a used bookstore across the street and went to check that out after breakfast. It was really cool. Different then others we had been in because they had more rare and obscure books. We took a stroll down the street to check out the Children's Museum but realized it was NOT adult friendly (which made us feel creepy), so we quickly left. During this stroll, we noticed a protest going on across the street. Both sides of the healthcare debate had parties present. They were chanting and shaking signs, but there were only about 30 people on each side and they were standing pretty close to each other on a small street which made the whole thing pretty funny to us. Of course, we had to take pictures.
We continued on our walk to explore some stores and found a place that sold some interesting action figures (see pictures for the details). Then we drove down the street to a Library Book Sale we had passed earlier. It turned out to be kind of a bust, but I did hear a humorous exchange. Now, just to clarify, there were a MILLION signs stating this was a SALE, and the sale books were all in the basement, pretty far from the actual library.
Woman to clerk (after observing someone buying books): "So do you have to pay for these books?"
Clerk: "Yes, all these books are for sale."
Woman: "Well, I can't find anything I want."
Well.... Then... I don't know what to tell you
We got back in the car and drove through downtown Bloomington and up to the two shopping malls in town. I made Nathan go to Hobby Lobby with me, since he had never been inside of one. While he doesn't hate it as much as Michael's, he would still rather go just about anywhere than a craft store. Oh well.
When we walked around the mall, we happened upon a Boy Scout toy car racing competition. It was pretty awesome. We stayed and watched for a while and smiled at the anxious boys (and their overly competitive fathers). Wholesome American fun.
Finally, we drove to our bed & breakfast to check in. We stayed at the Vrooman Mansion (http://vroomanmansion.com/). It's a historical home that has been beautifully restored. The exterior of the house isn't all that appealing, but the interior was really pretty. The furnishings and stained glass and old fixtures. It was like going back in time, a little bit.
After checking in we went out to dinner at Baxter's American Grille. We had wanted to eat at Destihl, another well reviewed restaurant, but the wait was over an hour. While we have waited over an hour for good food before, the idea that we would wait for over an hour for food in Central Illinois was just plain silly (to Nathan), so we moved on to Baxter's. Eating at Destihl is now on our "stuff to do on our next day trip to Bloomington" list.
Funny thing happened on the way to the restaurant... My boss has mentioned that she has done some modeling and acting in film and commercials, but I hadn't seen her in anything. Well, there I am chatting away, when there SHE is on a billboard! I squealed with excitement and made Nathan turn around so I could take a picture. I can be so annoying sometimes. But it was fun.
Baxter's was delicious and filling, and then we were off to the movies to see Alice in Wonderland. Then we braved the windy weather and returned to our suite in the Vrooman Mansion after a long day of fun. The next morning was one of the best parts of our stay. The breakfast they served us was wonderful. We came downstairs to the dining room. There was fresh orange juice and coffee waiting for us. We were served (along with all the other guests) a fresh fruit cup of bananas, kiwi, pineapple and oranges. Next we had a spinach bacon souffle, sausage patties, and cream cheese crepes with cherry & blueberry compote. Way beyond our expectations!
We finished off our relaxing weekend with some time spent reading in a local cafe, then a nice long nap upon our return to Peoria.
I'm really glad we found another city close by with some different things to do. There are a couple more bookstores there we would like to go back and check out. They have antique shops and an arts festival/street fair coming soon. There are several restaurants we want to try as well. And of course, there is the Shakespeare Festival in the summer that I can't WAIT to go to.
In addition, there is an ostrich farm near Bloomington that sells eggs starting in May, so Nathan might finally get to make that ostrich omelette he's been dying to try. We shall see.