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May 13, 2006

Light posting and a little prairie nostalgia

Since May 1st I've been putting in beaucoup hours working on a technically interesting project at a rural site near Monmouth, Illinois. Though the location's remote and the hours have been extremely long, one bit of good fortune has been the excellent restaurant across the street from my hotel. If you're ever in the area, check out Cerar's Barnstormer: great food and great service.

Monmouth is an interesting little town about 50 miles west of Peoria, where I grew up. Being out on the Illinois prairie again brought back a host of memories from my teen and young adult years, before I left Illinois for Arizona. There aren't many man-made elements in the prairie landscape -- just enough to highlight the open expanse. We downstaters will tell you that's a big part of the prairie's charm. And, man, is the air sweet.

The town itself reminds me of parts of Peoria; I spotted some old brick sidewalks like the ones I grew up with. Monmouth is pretty small, with about 9900 residents. It's not big enough to have any outskirt, so you're out in the farm fields practically as soon as you leave the city limits. One of its touristy claims-to-fame is that it's the birthplace of Wyatt Earp. Who knew?

Another thing that struck me about Monmouth was the Maple City logo and tagline you see around town. I'm not an arborist, but I didn't notice an overwhelming preponderance of maple trees. Maybe it's a historical thing (or maybe I need to pay more attention).

Monmouth appears to be still pretty much as it was originally laid out 150 years ago. In the middle is a town square with its traffic circle. Main Street runs north and south from the square and Broadway runs east and west. Driving west along Broadway from the square, the streets have letter names (A Street, B Street); driving east, the streets have number names (1st Street, 2nd Street). Driving south along Main, the streets are named with numbers again (1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue) and driving north, the streets appear to be named after people. The city fathers ran out of naming schemes, I suppose.

Monmouth College is a a few blocks east of the town square. Driving a dozen blocks north, south or west of the square brings you to the edge of town; it extends a little further if you drive east, past the college.

Update: I spoke too quickly about the Monmouth city founders and their running out of naming schemes because I noticed that the streets you cross driving north along Main Street also follow the A,B,C pattern used on west Broadway. They're named Archer, Boston, Clinton, Detroit, Euclid, Franklin...

I expect another week or two away from home on this project and some travel to other rural locations in the Midwest, so posting (and e-mail responsiveness) will continue to be spotty. Back in the daily dose business by Memorial Day, I hope.

Posted by joke du jour at May 13, 2006 08:03 AM

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