This morning we travel into Southern Illinois to see and experience some of the highlights of the area.
Our first stop will be Rendleman Orchard Farm Market to purchase fresh fruit, jams, jelly and cobbler mix, to name just a few items, and to try their fresh Apple Cider Donuts. (Any purchases are on your own.)
Our next stop is Bald Knob Cross, a monument of peace, faith, charity and hope. Towering above the landscape at over 111 feet and visible for over 7500 square miles is Bald Knob Cross of Peace. In 1937, Wayman Presley was conversing with Reverand W.H. Lirely about the need for a place where people of all denominations could gather to worship. Their attention was drawn to nearby Bald Knob in rural Union County. The first Easter sunrise service was held in 1937, followed by years of fundraising. The cross was completed in 1963 and renovations were completed in 2012. Be sure to stop at the Welcome Center and step out on the deck for a view of the countryside through the binoculars.
Our next stop will be in Makanda at the Presley Tours office for refreshments. On to Giant City State Park Lodge for lunch. The family style lunch consists of golden-brown fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country milk gravy, scratch dumplings, home-style green beans, buttered corn, creamy coleslaw, homemade biscuits and butter, beverage and strawberry shortcake. After lunch, you might want to be adventurous and climb to the top of the 82-foot tall water tower. A highlight of Giant City State Park is the Visitor Center, which provides interpretive displays on the geology, plants and animals in the park. Enjoy a 10-minute film about the park and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the audio-visual room.
We continue to Starview Vineyards, a family-owned and operated winery and vineyard nestled in the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest. Our tasting will include 5 wines and you get to keep the glass. Later, experience a taste of “Tuscany” in the heart of wine country and appreciate the ever-changing panorama of Southern Illinois. Blue Sky Vineyard is also nestled in the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest. The wine tasting here will include 5 wines and a souvenir glass.
Later this afternoon, we begin our journey home with a stop for a light dinner (on your own).