Saturday, April 29, 2023

Return to Alton

We've been tossing around the idea of moving to Illinois for the past 6 months or so. Missouri is just getting worse and worse, like it's trying to win the most hateful state in the union prize or something, and just across the river we have the Metro East. Whatever you may say about downstate Illinois, it is protected by Chicago and will probably be forever, and that's fine with me. We like our house a lot, and could live here many years, but if we wanted to get some things on our wish list - big front porch, bigger yard, less gunshots, etc - we may as well move to the suburbs that are in a sanctuary state. 

I've spent a lot of time on Google maps, picking various towns and mapping to our parents, dance studio, Costco, all the important places. We visited a couple areas but nothing really clicked. At some point, I mentioned Alton, where I spent a lot of my 20s and 30s, and Francis said something silly like, "I always figured Alton was your destiny." Hmm... Maybe it is?

Alton was truly love at first ghost hunt for me. I love the history, the historic preservation, the spooky weirdos it attracts, the fact that it's a small town but is so eclectic. It's about the size of Webster Groves, where I grew up, but so much more diverse, and with such a wide variety of businesses. Plus, I have wanted to live on the Great River Road since I first discovered it! Looking at water is one of the only things that gives my brain any peace. 

We drove up to Alton this weekend to see what is new, what has changed, and if we still feel like we vibe with it. I am happy to say, yes, if anything it has improved. There are great new businesses on Broadway like Brown Bag Bistro and Funky Planet Toys & Gifts. One of our favorite "haunts" from back in the day, the Mineral Springs, is under new management with several offbeat new businesses and an expanded museum called the Soul Asylum. Someday I hope Lilly finds a little spookiness so we can check it out, but she's not there yet. Maybe next time Francis and I will take turns. 

We're planning to visit once a month for the next year to see if we enjoy it year round, but I suspect we will. We're already talking about this as "when" and not "if". 

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