Tennessee summers are hot and sticky. They aren’t unbearable, but the comfort of air conditioning makes the sweltering days easier. When my air conditioning went out for two weeks (!) in the peak of summer, there was only one thing I could do: I had to escape to Illinois. While some people see Marion, Illinois as a drive-through town, it became my air conditioned haven for my dog and I to get relief at on a weekend we otherwise had planned to be hanging out at home. We hit the road after work on Friday night for population 17,000.
The town center is quaint with a comic book shop, cafe, bar, and double-decker City Hall and Bank. I absolutely love old buildings that have their name embedded in the stone of their construction.
Nearby is the Shawnee National Forrest. Eddie is a suburb dog with only a few trees in the backyard, and a life of luxury on a Pottery Barn sofa. He absolutely lost his mind sniffing for all the wild animals and plants as we took a hike.
With a tuckered out puppy, I couldn’t resist going to Metropolis, Illinois, Home of Superman and Harrah’s Casino. The Superman museum was fantastic with tons of artifacts, memorabilia, and downright fandom packed into a small building. Gambling on the Ohio River did not pan out well for me, but it was certainly an interesting experience!
On the way home, we passed through Paducah, Kentucky. After a great introduction at the Paducah Visitors and Convention Bureau, Eddie and I hit the streets to learn about “Atomic City.” My obsession with buildings with their names embedded on them was satisfied again by a funky colored bank. We were suprised to see artist Robert Dafford touching up his creation of the historic riverfront floodwall mural.
We returned home to a hot house and slept in a vortex of fans missing our time in these small towns. While they aren’t tourist hot spots, they were exactly the kind of cool trip we needed.