I have just returned from my second trip to Road America for the Kohler International Challenge and it was worth the 1700 mile trip including that still endlessly dull drive back and forth through some of the flattest areas of Illinois.
This year we would need to haul not only our luggage for the week, which isn't all that much, but also folding chairs and my parents luggage, and really needed comfortable on-the-road seating for four. So we started the trip with another short journey not far from home. Having found that the selection for renting land yachts is sorely lacking in our area, my husband and I made the choice to pick up a SUV in Memphis to take on our trip. In an effort to support local business and break up the monotony of another trip to Memphis, we opted to fly a local commuter flight one-way and drive the SUV back home. It turns out that was a great decision, as the flight on SeaPort Air's nine seat Pilatus PC-12 was comfortable and quick. The staff and crew were not just friendly, but truly helpful and made the experience something I wouldn't hesitate to repeat. If only all airlines could be run with such a relaxed demeanor I'd be willing to burn through my stockpile of frequent flyer miles a whole lot faster.
A couple of days later, we stopped at Collinsville, Illinois to meet up with friends and caravan northward. That evening we went to dinner at Sage just across the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Clearly a trendy hot-spot in the area, the food is a melting pot of contemporary American cuisine. The stuffed chicken breast was excellent, although the fifteen spice ribs could have used a bit more spice, maybe that missing sixteenth one would have been the magic touch. Being a hot-spot, the noise level was a bit much and left us all straining to hear each other. A little sound control could go a long way in improving the overall experience here; however I got the impression there was a bit of something to being seen here, not just dining and enjoying the meal and present company.
We spent the night at a ho-hum Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville. I had decided to try it since our usual Hampton Inn in the area was sold out and it was the other top ranked hotel in the area according to Trip Advisor. It definitely is a business travelers and convention / meeting place hotel. For a quick overnight stay it was ok but nothing exceptional.
The following day we set out for Wisconsin and stopped for lunch at Hearthrock Cafe. It was one of those odd internet finds that I kept coming back to, thinking it looked just too interesting to pass up. Inside an older downtown three-story building that now houses a proprietor of home furnishings, kitchens, flooring, landscaping and other such items. The menu was perfect for a light lunch and the store provided us with a good excuse to get out and stretch a bit.
Later that day we arrived at our destination, check into our hotel and headed to dinner at the Millhome Supper Club in Kiel, or rather somewhere in the middle of nowhere near Kiel. Sadly the food was disappointing. Our friends had a good recommendation for the place but it turned out to be mostly food-service entrees of the heat and eat variety. Adding to that was its preparation by a chef who clearly had been fired somewhere else for under-cooking food, thus everything was overcooked by 15 to 25 degrees as was evidenced by the rubbery shrimp and scallops and medium steaks that were brown all the way through. However the place was nearly empty so it wasn't crowded or noisy which made for a nice contrast to the previous night's deafening volume level.
This was a fun trip and more than my fingers can handle in one round. More coming soon...