Outdoor Event

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MARSHALL: Nature hike

creek

It is not every day that I get to experience nature and its fierce beauty, but recently I had one day where I soaked up the local wilderness and had tons of fun.

My Great Aunt Mary’s grandkids happened to be in for a little while from New Mexico, so their family organized some activities to keep them entertained.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

I got to have lunch at my Aunt Mary’s, which is just delicious, and then my cousin Kenny and the whole crew went to visit a beautiful area of creek that had huge walls that towered many feet above to higher ground. It reminded me of when I visited Giant City State park south of Carbondale.

Seeing the creek gave you a feeling of having stepped back years in time to before Illinois was filled with shopping malls and fast-food restaurants.

Now the reason I described us as the whole crew is because we had quite the group. This humongous group consisted of my second cousin Kenny, his daughter-in-law, his wife Nancy, their two grandkids complete with one friend, his niece and her four boys.

So we had a big group of kids ranging in age from years 5 to 21, if you count me, your child-like author.

We walked the creek, many of the kids with water shoes, myself with flip-flops, and had a ball. We hopped from rock to rock, and I felt the mud in my toes as I sunk in. The scenery was a lovely sight and you could see the minnows swim through the murky water.

At times the water was crystal clear, and sometimes you would fall into a bit of a hole. I did not wear a swimsuit although I should have, and I got soaked enough to enjoy myself. I played with the little kid, as I am only a big kid myself, splashed around, and it just brightened my day to do something outside while the summer sun shined above us.

It was only the beginning to a great day. And afterward, on the way home, we got ice cream, which made it even sweeter.

hotdog1

MARSHALL: Sunny days and hot dogs

hotdog1

Last Wednesday was nice and breezy, one of the first sunny days I had seen in a while. So, I figured why not get outside and do a little something?

I did just that after class, heading to a little tailgate event that they were holding at John Wood around 1:30 p.m. I ended up running into a bunch of my friends.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

The tailgate was for the girl’s softball and the boy’s baseball games, but as sports don’t necessarily hold our attention, especially baseball, we didn’t spend much time over at the games. I think it was also that it was such a fine day we didn’t want to sit in the bleachers. We enjoyed venturing out and walking around the campus.

But first, there were hot dogs. On a grill behind the Student Activity Center.

My friend Chad was manning the grill as it slowly simmered the hot dogs. The grill was electric and had some problems, struggling to reach 350 degrees, so you had to wait a little bit for your hot dog to really be done. We sat, chatted and passed the time, eventually moseying our way over to the games for a little bit with a posse in tow.

I kind of felt well liked with a group of five or six us just about making up a crowd of our own. We made fun of each other, joked about the game, and mainly killed some time enjoying the sunshine.

Now that the weather is getting nicer after such a long winter, it is not very hard to do nothing outside and be able to look back and say that the day was good.

Toward the end, we made our way back over to the grill and chatted with the lady who is in charge of all the student activities. With hot dogs still remaining on the grill, I was convinced into eating more, brining my total for the day to four.

Maybe next year I should train for a hot dog eating competition, I never thought I could eat so many!

Haunted-House

CARTER: Chasing ghost stories

Haunted-House

I was leaving my job the other day at QU, and as I walked out the door, I happened upon some old brochures titled “Quincy Folklore.” I guess the vintage greeting card images on the covers were too much to resist, so I grabbed them up. Old ghost stories are always fun to read and laugh about, after all. Once, on a drive up north in Jo Daviess County, Kim and I stopped at an abandoned house for some photographs and heard the sound of a piano playing, even

Carter

Carter

though there were no people around for miles. I am up for another good scare like the one I had that day.

I need your help, however, with a good translation. If you are an expert at local haunts and ghost stories, can you help me find these places?

The  trouble I am having is that the locations listed in the brochures are rather vague. When one says “a house at the intersection of 12th and Kentucky,” that could mean four possible spots to go looking for ghosts. Because I haven’t tracked down all the exact locations, I thought I would share a few with you in case you wanted to go looking for ghosts. Halloween is just around the corner, after all, so it is time for a good scaring!

Number 1: The Commandant’s Quarters at the Illinois Soldier’s Home. Located between the power plant and the petting zoo as I understand it,  witnesses allegedly saw the ghost of a soldier entering and leaving the house.

Number 2: The Confederate House. Located at the intersection of 2nd and Vermont streets, this home allegedly sheltered rebel sympathizers during the American Civil War, and children living in the house in the 1880s reported seeing a ghostly figure resembling the devil there. The home’s nickname at the time was “the old rebel house,” so no doubt the exact spot is on file at the Adams County Historical Society.

Number 3: Burton Cave. I really want to go to this one. This cave, located “four miles east of Quincy,” was the location where, in the 1880s, picnickers visiting the cave saw two different apparitions during the onset of a thunderstorm. I want to visit this place the most, but I have no idea where Burton Cave is, or if it is gone, where it once was.

Number 4: The old Madison School location at 26th and Maine streets. Allegedly this plot was originally occupied by a home wherein a murder took place, and unexplained troubles still occur in the vicinity.

Have you been to any of these places? Had any odd experiences elsewhere in Quincy? Share them so I can go and have myself a good, “old-fashioned” scare.

BURNMEAT

CARTER: Where there’s smoke, there’s barbecue

BURNMEAT

 

I don’t know about all of you, but for me, an upcoming event is one I can’t miss. It isn’t my first since moving to Quincy, and it certainly won’t be the last one for me. You know which one I mean: Smoke on the River!

If you have not been to Smoke on the River, I want you to come this upcoming weekend. I will be there Friday night and Saturday, too. Look for the barbeque tester in the yellow QU ball cap and say hello! If you are one of my readers and want to taste a barbeque sample or two with me, I would be

Carter

Carter

happy to share. Heck, I might even wear something with my name on it just to make identification easier.

Here’s the scoop: 21 different contestants were registered when I wrote this blog. More will come. Multiple states, multiple barbeque styles and strategies, and all located in Kesler Park. My objective is to find the best brisket, which is my favorite cut of barbecue meat. Slow or fast, smoked, direct cooked, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to try them all.

Here are some I intend to hit first:

Cherry Red Roasters: Whole hog barbeque. I worry sometimes when I see multiple regional styles on the same menu, but they all look appealing. On the tasting menu is Texas-style brisket, which means slow-roasted brisket with a healthy rub, not a sauce.

Fiddlin’ Fatback: Coming to Quincy from Bloomington, Ill., this barbeque team rates honors from the Kansas City Barbeque Society every year. There are several thousand barbecue places in the KCBS listing, so being listed in honors is no easy task. Kansas City-style means an emphasis on the sauce.

The Smoking Hills: Another high-ranked team from the KCBS listing, this team originates from Overland Park, Kan., just outside of Kansas City. Their specialty, in addition to the big three barbeque favorites, is barbequed, smoked meatloaf. This I must try.

The Butcher Block: One of our local favorites I can’t wait to sample. I try to get all my meat from them when I want the best cuts and best flavor. I also like the variety of “odd cuts” and usual cast-offs they have in their store. Only traditional meat lockers carry some of the cuts they carry on a regular basis. The Butcher Block is the only place in the area that regularly stocks rabbit in their freezers, so I am hoping they bring some along for the competition. I have never tried it smoked as barbecue, so this would be a whole new experience for me.

So what are you doing this weekend? Hopefully you are making plans now to join me for this festival of smoked goodness. I think I may even fast all week long so I can be ready to go all-in when it comes down to tasting time.

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CARTER: Get in the spirit of urban exploration

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Everyone has heard tales of great explorers. In every place in the world that was once considered “frontier,” there has been some kind of explorer. Many great works of fiction and nonfiction have been devoted to telling stories about the greats, whether they are real-life explorers like Daniel Boone, Ernest Shackleton or Tensing Norgay, or fictional characters like Allan Quatermain. My personal favorites are Henry Morton Stanley and Robert H. Patterson.

Those days of exploring frontiers, however, are mostly over. The bottoms of the oceans and space are about all that remain unexplored, and only a very select few people

Carter

Carter

will go to those places in our lifetimes. There is an alternative that remains. It is one that is often dark and dirty, but provides and extraordinary opportunity for human discovery and photography.

What is this frontier, you ask? Well, it is urban exploration.

Urban explorers chase after human remains, of sorts. To be an urban explorer is sort-of like taking a cue from the TV series Life after People. You go where people have been, but left, and explore to learn about them. Not quite Indiana Jones, but still exciting. Urban explorers explore a phenomenon called urban decay. In 500 years, it will be archaeology. Think ghost town, not ancient burial site.

How many times have you driven down a back road and encountered an abandoned farmhouse, leering out of overgrown bushes at the end of a dirt driveway? When I drive out to go shooting at Cannon Dam, I pass one every time. If you have ever been to Monroe City, you know the one I mean, on the right side of the road, right before the junction of Missouri Highway J and U.S. 24. I bet the inside of the house has “stuff” that was left behind. The wood-box television is probably still in the corner where the first owner put it way back in the 1940s or 50s.

The unfortunate downside to urban exploration is that it frequently involves trespassing, and I am no advocate of that idea. “Keep out” signs are posted for a reason. Consider the places that are not blocked off to access around us here in Quincy, though.

There are railroad tracks that lead to nowhere located right down on the riverfront, trestles and bridge abutments, and no doubt other similar things lurking nearby if we just look. These are signs of places where there was once grand activity of some sort. My friend Randy has told me tales of his early days at Keller and Sons, when they still unloaded fertilizer and soil from freight cars, not trucks.

The rail cars may be gone, but still evidence of their recent past remains. All you have to do is look for it and take the first step — safely, of course. When you do find a place to explore, bring safety boots, a flashlight and a camera, and call me so I can come along.

CARTER: Fair play

It’s hard to think about the summer coming to an end, isn’t it? County fairs are going on all across the region, which is wonderful, but they signal the end of summer. Officially, of course, in the “rust belt” summer ends with Labor Day, but I suggest county fair season is more appropriate.

The trouble with county fairs, in my mind, is how dangerous the food is. Everything fried tastes great, which is part of the problem for me. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, all those things are great to have at least once a year. One thing I have noticed and grown to love about living here in Quincy is the ease of access to so many of them.

Carter

Carter

Back home, the routine was fairly simple. Winnebago, Boone, Ogle and Stephenson counties have their fairs back to back. They are within a short driving distance of where I used to live, so those were the favorites for my family. Here, on the other hand, we have three states’ worth of fairs to choose from, and all within an hour drive of Quincy. This is a dangerous combination, especially if you love funnel cakes.

As I get older, I see county fairs differently than I did as a kid. For me, the county fair is an opportunity to find local eats you might never find any other way. You know what I mean: pie contents, vegetables of every shape and definitely every size, freshly canned vegetables, salsas… I could go on. The hunt for these things has replaced my childhood thrills of rides and cool animals you don’t see in the city.

I made it over to Pike County in Illinois, and I went to the fair in Pike County, Missouri. The Adams County fair was a must, as well.

What were your favorite booths or foods at the fair in your county? Let me know your favorite stops and things I must plan to see next year.

Jaclyn-Mastroianni

CARTER: An All-Star Encounter

Jaclyn-Mastroianni

 

Committing to finish my senior seminar thesis over the summer has been a unique burden. On one hand, I am reading more about one singular topic than I ever have in my life. On the other, my days off are spent either in the library or meeting with the professor who is keeping a close watch over my progress.

These extra meetings seem to have had one exclusive benefit, however. In the last couple weeks I have been able to bump elbows with two of the all-star athletes from QU: Jodi Chapie (soccer), and Lucy Cramsey (Basketball). The summary of these encounters went like this:

“Aren’t you the guy who wrote about us having our hair in Samurai buns?”

Carter

Carter

Naturally, inside I was quaking in terror. Soccer players can kick like crazy! As it turns out, a series of compliments followed. I couldn’t believe it. I actually met another person who read my work. That makes seven out of the 1700 people who regularly tune in to my remarks. On top of that, I didn’t walk away with any serious injuries.

Now I feel bad. I made it my business to attend several QU sporting events in the last two years because, well, I suppose it is part of the college experience I need to take in. I am beginning to think now that I may have been mistaken. Every football game I attended was a loss, as was the basketball game I went to.

I have been missing something. I have never forgotten the picture in the Herald Whig last year of one of the soccer girls sobbing as she limped off the field in the rain at the end of the GLVC tournament loss. That spirit, or broken spirit, implies an energy I must have missed at the other games. On the rare occasions I see that girl on campus, that picture is the first thing to come to mind.

So this year, I am making plans now. I plan to cover more sporting events for the campus newspaper, and I am going to make my business to pay more attention to a set of teams who play to win all the time: the women’s teams.

I just have one problem, and I need your help. Check the QU athletics calendar so you can plan on backing me up. I was raised a Chicago Cubs and Bears fan. I know baseball and I know football. Heck, I even get basketball most of the time. Soccer and volleyball, on the other hand, are beyond me. I need a seasoned expert to help me figure out what is going on.

The season for all of the women’s teams begins in early September. Any volunteers?