A long trip for a good visit, back in Illinois

Last Wednesday we received word that Randy's sister, who just got out of the hospital, wasn't doing well. So early Thursday morning we packed up and drove to Illinois. That's a long drive and we didn't sleep well the night before, so we took 2 days for the trip. Shorty went with us. He's done long car trips before, but always with Julienne. Without her, he got bored even quicker than before. The bright spot of his day was anytime we stopped for food. If he could drive, he'd always go somewhere where they serve breakfast platters.
We stopped often, to let him stretch his legs. The welcome center on the north side of Kentucky is pretty - it's a mansion from the 1860s. It had 3 different owners before it became the welcome center in 1983.  A nice way to save a beautiful old building. 
When we got to Illinois, it was just 26 degrees outside! So for most of that day, the words heard most often from my mouth were "Wow, it's cold!".  We booked a (pitiful) local hotel and went over the next morning to visit with Sharon.  Randy's sister Tina was there, too. 
We brought Shorty along, hoping he would be allowed in the nursing home. He was, and he was a very good boy. He settled right down in Sharon's lap!

Sharon knows all about how to hold onto a little dog's harness, to keep him safe. So he rode around with her on hew wheelchair.
Sharon is so fortunate that her daughter Vickie works at her nursing home. Vickie makes sure Sharon gets extra TLC every day. 
 Later we went to Vickie's house to visit with her, her husband, daughter (who lives next door) and granddaughter. Plus Vickie's two dogs, two cats, and Sharon's old dog Bear. Bear is the brother of our beloved Sugarbaby; we still miss him. Vickie has a houseful of love. 

We went to lunch with Tina and Garrett, and ordered something that is hard to find outside the Midwest: a pork tenderloin sandwich. These sandwiches, when fixed properly, are large enough for two people. We just asked for an extra bun and cut it in half. This one, at Schooner Inn, was pretty good, although the very best tenderloins come from Spring Bay.
And later for dinner we all joined Randy's sister Lenora, her fiance and their son at another local favorite - Avanti's. This is on our "Best of the Road" list. We were more tired than hungry, so one pizza fed four of us, with a little left over for breakfast. 
 Lenora's son Skylar is photogenic...
once you get him to settle down! 
Sunday we visited with Sharon again. She's having a tough time getting around right now but she is getting therapy. So for now, Sharon and Shorty were content to get around on wheels.
Afterwords we went to see my Mom. I called to give her a heads-up that we were coming; it was quit a shock, since she didn't know we were in the area. We got to spend a couple of hours there, before we needed to start for home. 
One the way out of town we realized we were driving by the Busy Corner, where Mom loves to go for pie. So we stopped and got something for the road. Making a decision is the hard part.
 Then back on the road. Shorty was less than thrilled. 
The Georgia Visitor Center is getting some mileage out of the "Walking Dead", which is filmed in the western part of the state. 
By this time Shorty had learned a new trick. Whenever we stopped, after doing his business he usually went into his kennel for a few minutes while we went inside. He decide that he deserved treat every time he went into the kennel. If we "forgot" to give him one when he went in, he would not come out again until we remembered. He'd just sit there in his open kennel, waiting for us to remember our job.
We stayed at La Quinta, because they have clean rooms, comfortable beds, and they allow pets. The La Quinta in Calhoun, Georgia is right next to a Cracker Barrel. That worked out OK because after a full day of driving, walking over there was about all we could manage. 

We made a mistake on this trip; we didn't bring Shorty's ball. He loves his ball, and chasing it is a way for him to get a little exercise. On the last night out, Randy decided to substitute an orange. The first few times Shorty grabbed it, he quickly dropped it. But soon his love of anything that rolls took over took, and he played with it. Unfortunately the orange quickly became too sticky and we had to stop. 
Traffic around and through Atlanta is awful. The beltline is just as busy, and there is usually an accident somewhere. It took way too long to get through that area. On the other side of Atlanta we stopped for lunch at Smoakie's BBQ in Cordele, GA, where the brisket was tender and tasty. We timed it just right, getting there before the lunch rush that filled the tiny dining room. Then after lunch it was back in the car and back on the road. Shorty had given up by then; he was just on endurance mode, not believing we would ever go home to our own beds and sister Missy. 
Fortunately he was wrong, and we finally made it back. Over 1,200 miles is a long round trip in a few days, but we had a good visit with family, so that made it all worthwhile.

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