Monkeybars at Mattawan

Monkeybars in Mattawan

We left Waterloo around 1:30 and made exceptional time west. The border crossing at Sarnia was a breeze, and we managed to eat dinner in Flint. By 7:30, we were past Kalamazoo and we still had plenty of daylight.

The kids have been troopers on this trip to Des Moines before, and they were even moreso now (a fact I partly credit to having two identical iPod touches to keep them occupied), but eight hours is a long time to be in a car, so we pulled off the highway around Mattawan (a small town west of Kalamazoo) and got directions from a local gas attendant to the nearest playground.

The Mattawan memorial park is a wonderfully maintained patch of green with a pristine playground. When we got there, a young family with two kids around our kids age were still playing, much to Vivian’s delight. They played until the sun set.

But the playground was across the street from what may have been downtown Mattawan. Maybe. A decrepid tavern called “Su Casa” was boarded up. A Gyro place was tucked away beside it. There was a modest pizza place in a brick house, and two other closed shops. And basically noone else. One could tell that much of the town’s economic activity had been pulled to business parks closer to the Interstate, and the effect was eerie. Not unsafe, as there were no threatening people around, just eerie because, beyond the young family, there was no one else. A far cry from Geneseo, Illinois.

Except for a high school marching band, practising somewhere in the distance.

The set can be found on Flickr, here.

We made it to Morris, Illinois, with the kids asleep in the car. Only five hours of driving left tomorrow. Overall, a good day!

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