Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pretending to Do Something Important, While Really Just Driving Around

Our objective for yesterday was to go see The Old Slave House. It's been closed to the public for the last 11 years, but we wanted to drive out and see it from the outside.

So we packed up the camara and the iPod (which plugs into the radio for maximum tunage) in the little truck and headed east.

I had the vaguest idea that it's in the eastern part of the state, somewhere near Equality and Old Shawneetown, so that's approximately the direction we headed in.

We stopped at the overlook at the Little Grassy Spillway to enjoy the water and wind. It was impressively wet and spilly, but too chilly to delay long on our way to a cholesterol-laden breakfast at Bob Evans.

With our arteries hardening gently in the spring air, we got back in the truck and continued in the general direction of Harrisburg, or "Hearseburg" as it's known to the natives, no doubt because of some ancient ritual involving hearses.

We didn't actually see the hearses, but we did go to a store that sells an ungodly array of things needed to shoot woodland creatures faster and deader than before you owned them...which is like hearses, but for small animals.

So we finally got to Equality. No Slave House. We drove around, studied the map, and finally decided it must be closer to Old Shawneetown.

In Old Shawneetown there was, once again, an appalling lack of Slavehouses, but we saw a nifty old Texaco station that looked like it had time-warped directly here from the 1950's, and an enormous stately old bank, befitting a town with more that 200 human residents and 200 more stray dogs.

At that point, we were pretty much out of brilliant ideas for
actually locating the place, so we decided to ask for
directions at one of the two thriving businesses in Old Shawneetown. There was a biker bar and a package liquor store, and we opted for the liquor store, which seemed like a place where we were less likely to be raped, murdered, dismembered and deep-fried into bar snacks.

And indeed the woman at the package store (which carried a selection of beers ranging from Bud to Miller and back again), knew where it was and gave us directions after reminding us that it's closed to the public.

So armed with instructions to..."Go back to the
highway, then go back to the crossroads, take a left, then it'll be a little ways down, on your left."
When I got back in the truck, Lori said, "Which crossroads? The intersection of what and what? I would have asked her exactly which crossroads."
And I reminded her that since she sat in the truck and I actually went in, she gets the instructions that I ask for. Next time you go into the liquor store and ask for directions. You risk being dismembered and frittered for directions.

So we headed back up the highway, found the crossroads, turned left, found the house pretty much where she said it would be, noted the "Keep Out" sign, and then, like the scofflaws we are, drove up the long drive to get a better look at the house. The house, as you can see, looks like a pretty, old house from the outside, and not like the Chamber of Horrors we know it to be from reading about it's history.

Someday the State of Illinois will reopen it for tourism, and we'll check out the inside. But yesterday's treasure hunt was an excellent way to while away a rainy Saturday.

And to the Snake Road to see the migrating snakes. We can't decide if we actually want to be successful at this or not. I'll no doubt let you know later.

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