So I am going to have to admit a deep level of ignorance on the Land of Lincoln. Why is it state #4 then? Because I am writing about the states in the order I visited them. My dad, brother and I drove from Michigan to California in 1983, but my first memory of the trip is the St. Louis Arch. Google Maps tells me that we must have driven through Illinois. Unfortunately, my first impressions of winter car travel in Illinois were the same as in Michigan –black snow lace heaped on the side of the roads, growling salt trucks, sodium light orange haze.

My Illinois at this point is O’Hare and Midway airports, high school senior class trip, a beautiful wedding in Chicago, and fish unseen.

1993 Senior Trip Chicago

Dancing to my own music, it appears.

My high school class visited Chicago for the inevitable senior year trip. I think the school didn’t want to figure out how to get everyone on an airplane and go to Orlando or some other be-palm-treed location, so we chartered a bus to Chicago.  At some point we must have enjoyed a deep dish pie and popcorn.  We visited the Hard Rock Cafe‘s popular franchise, where the hamburgers were tepid and no one could figure out the proper tip. And you can tell from the photographic evidence that I (and the rest of the assembled company) were rocking the 90s hair.

My next trip to Chicago was for a wedding in 2005. A bunch of college friends stayed in this cool little BnB, which is still going strong. It was like living in an attic: always another personal artifact, out of print book, abandoned lares and penates and other household gods to discover. The omelettes were delicious. And the couple is still happily married. The BnB’s household gods apparently had good omens.

Historical facts? Just two, one personal and one unusual. In World War II, Northwestern University opened a training unit at Abbott Hall, where my grandfather earned his Navy commission. Second, Illinois, not Utah, is the home of the Mormons. There was even an actual battle, in a town called Nauvoo, which sounds like it should be a planet on Star Wars.

Illinois requires more investigation from the staff of this blog. I will confess that I have not even visited Shedd Aquarium, but I have plans to amend this situation in October.

What is your Illinois?

Next up: Missouri, the Show Me State. Show me what, exactly?