I arrive at Justin’s (20 minutes late), and all of us stand around, discussing what we’re going to do. When I bring up the "West" bit, Alex turns to me and says "West? No no no, we’re so past that. It’s Southwest now."

And so we’re off.

Most of the day looked like this. Overcast, and just really bleh. For the first half of the journey out, we were playing Dave’s songs, which I had burned onto a CD. I’ve been listening to two new songs he’s done (covers of Damien Jurado), and really, really dig the new stuff.

We also had Justin’s iPod with us, and he had a fancy attachment that let him play it through the radio. Justin and Alex were doing the DJ thing, and we got a good sampling of songs. I heard one song by The Shins that I liked, and now I want more.

I took two brief movies today, and I’m not sure how I feel about both of them. Not that compelling, but… they do show a bit of the day. Click (or ignore) as you please.

We hopped onto I-55, and just started going south. In the backseat, Justin was looking at a map, and noted a potential spots where we might deviate from the main roads. After some options (and about 40 minutes of driving), we decided to go for Route 6.

After another 20 minutes or so, Route 6 binds with State Road 47. Another few minutes this way, and we decide to stop for a local thrift store.

Interior shot – we walked around here a while, sifting through things. For a fleeting moment, I thought about purchasing an entirely new wardrobe. New pants, new shirt, new shoes – the works. Everything new.

Unfortunately – I decided against it. Maybe another time. :)

Are those his legs or arms? I assumed legs. This looks to me like some sort of Buddhist Santa.

Alex, chatting away in the parking lot.

Batter up! Justin bought a roll of paper. This is a man with plans.

Ok, this book rocks. I picked it up, and couldn’t stop flipping through it. Lots of fun facts and yes yes… fine, it’s a fucking kid’s book. I don’t care. Oddly – whoever read this before me went through this thing with a highlighter. Some 5th grader out there really needs to loosen up.

You should be prepared for frequent little factoids from here on out, all relating to gum. This isn’t so much a purchase as it is an investment. For example. Through this book, I found out about Bubble Gum Alley.

This thing pays for itself!

After some more driving, we find ourselves in the quiet town of Morris. We pull in next to the Grundy Bank (I think it’s Grundy County out here?) and head out to see what Morris has to offer.

Immediately, we notice that every lamppost has speakers near the lights, and they’re all playing the same light-jazz. So it’s a bit like the song follows you everywhere as you walk around.

Alex’s comment was: "This town has its own soundtrack!"

Cool spiral staircase.

We cut through a back alleyway, to get to the main street. Downtown, Morris.

Morris Theatre: Showing the latest blockbusters and providing the best Anger Resolution in town.


There were signs like this everyone, in front of every other shop it seemed. My guess is that a local travel agency was giving away a trip, and all the stores were participating in signing people up.

This made me rather sad. The whole message seemed to exude a "Escape Morris" sort of vibe. Thankfully, the people I met weren’t like that at all. Everyone we talked to was incredibly pleasant, polite, and willing to tell stories at the drop of a hat.

Ahh, Nostalgic Downtown Morris. I remember it from about… ten minutes ago.

We stopped in here to look around, and Justin got some caramel popcorn. I asked the lady who ran the place if I could film her as she was getting another batch ready, and she agreed. Although, before she said yes, she asked if I was "a spy from Anderson’s" or some other local confectioner’s.

Apparently, the process is to melt the caramel in the machine first, and then dump the popcorn into the mix. There was some additional "spray" she used, to help keep the kernels from sticking to one another, so that the whole thing didn’t come out as one big popcorn ball.

Believe it or not, we actually saw signs for this place much earlier, and joked about going "antiquing." Alex and I had a lively discussion about what the word emporium actually means, and the history of the name.

Interior shot. This place was pretty huge, with an upstairs and a downstairs, and a ton of little "hidden" rooms around corners.

I was on the verge of purchasing this
one antique pinball game for $38, but then changed my mind at the last minute. The game itself used marbles, and was an early form of pinball (it actually uses pins to trap the balls). These types of pin games gained popularity in speakeasies during Prohibition… and were the progenitors of today’s flashy, electronic pinball machines.

Trying on the merchandise.

Actually, I was a bit freaked out, and tried not to breathe much when I had this thing on. You can’t see it, but both hoses connect to this metallic cannister that dangles around the abdomen area. A little freaky.

Basement. Tons of great stuff, including a bunch of books in the far corner. I felt like a kid again, at my grandparents house. I had this big urge to just start pulling books, plopping down on the floor, and lose a few hours just reading anything I could find (something I did when I visited them).

One of the owners. He was inspecting coins, and I spied on him and asked a few questions. At the time, he was examining this really old dime from the 1800’s (worth about $10), and looking up some info in his book.

We chatted a while, and he told us various stories about the history of coins. One was that the government originally carved a "V" into the backs of nickels. That’s it – just a "V." And then some smart guy came along, gold-plated the coin, and passed it off as a $5 coin instead. I didn’t get the full name, but the owner said that the gentleman’s name was Josh (first? last?). He then went on to explain that this person responsible for the phrase "You’re joshing me."

We walk around some more, and Justin needs cigarettes. We walk into a Save-A-Lot store, and I’m immediately struck by the symmetry of the place. Alex and Justin both seem to recognize this type of store… but I’ve never been in one before.

I was losing my shit, truth be told. Everything was so organized and symmetrical and aligned… row after row of the same item, each column containing the same cans. I felt strangely elated and strangely disturbed, all at the same time.

Outside, we found a nearby caboose. Doors were locked unfortunately, so we weren’t able to get in.

We spent a few moments by the river. I think my comment at this point was "I’d give anything for 20 degrees and a canoe."

Fast forward a bit. We left Morris, and went a bit farther along 47 until we hit the town of Dwight.

Downtown Dwight is pretty much what you’re seeing here. This one slight strip is where most of the shops were, and about 1 in 5 were actually open. With the exception of a bar, there was no place to find any food.

I tried looking inside, but I couldn’t tell what used to be here.

This place has been closed since Spring?



After looking around and finding nothing, we asked for help. On the advice of some locals, we went towards the edge of town to grab chow at a truck stop.

Straight and to the point. No messing around.

Because you just might need to know.

Restaurant interior. Where they serve food.

Actually, the food wasn’t too bad. Mashed potatoes were great, and we got a ton of grub for the amount we paid.

Heading back home to Chicago.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Hey guess what. I’m googling morris blogs and come across yours. Lo and behold a pic of my old store is in there. Remember Peaceful Gazebo…in back with the spiral staircase going up the building? Ive since moved to another location with a totally new concept. I had to get outa downtown morris. It was driving me nuts…but then, Im from Chicago originally. My new store is XO Underground , and time youre in Moreass, stop in…whoever you are.

    Anonymous Reply

  2. Okay, so this is really, really odd. I’m looking through your best day posts, because it occurred to me I’d skimmed through these but never really looked around (I’m bored and slightly hungover…it’s Sunday, whatever), and I found this post. Here’s the thing…my grandmother lived about a half hour away from Dwight, and I spent a lot of my childhood there. Well, I know this exact truck stop and have eaten there a bunch of times!! It’s so odd that you’ve been there, too. I mean, what are the odds? Also, there’s this place in Dwight (if for some odd reason you ever decide to go back) called The Mansion, and it has the best food ever. I still remember it to this day.

    Marty J. Reply

  3. Thanks for the memory jog, as I haven’t thought about this day in ages. What a fun little side trip, for no real reason other than to just pick a direction and travel. Crazy that we happened across an area you know as well.I need more random road trips. I think I’ve gotten too comfortable with my ruts and routines, the past few years…

    avoision Reply

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