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The Middle of the Midwest Champaign ~ Road Trip

The Middle of the Midwest Champaign ~ Road Trip

Champaign in the Midwest is a place of community, gracious hosting, and friendliness. We spend a little more time here on our road trip. We meet up with our sister, Tina, at her home. It is centrally located to Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky. The food, fun, and adventures seemed endless in food, bars, bands, art, and nature.

Champaign Experiences

Champaign Illinois Midwest Road Trip Travel 4Chion Lifestyle Champaign Illinois Midwest Road Trip[/caption]

Japanese Tea House

The Japan House in Champaign is a great community center with beautiful surroundings. It is peaceful, welcoming, and tradition. Japanese tea ceremony is a formal presentation.  The service is the winter presentation. This ceremony is preparing and presenting the matcha. This ceremony is centuries old and is about purification, harmony, respect, and tranquility.

The Japan House motto is,  “the Way of Tea,” representing nature, heaven, and earth. This service was a winter presentation. The mats are laid in the pattern that each guest sits and the hearth is low to bring more warmth to the room. The hostess and guests bow to each other. The ceremony develops for westerners who find the traditional floor sitting difficult.  A chabana, a beautiful flower arrangement sitting to the side. The seasonal arrangement represents winter, this connects the room to nature.  There is a connection to water, earth, wood, fire, and metal with the utensils used for preparation.  This ceremony and ritual date back centuries with details being the key to the ceremony.

Things all returned the way they were except us. The ceremony brings a deeper sense of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility changing us while all else remains the same.

Japanese Tea House Midwest Road Trip Travel 4Chion Lifestyle
Japanese Tea House
William R. and Clarice V. Spurlock Museum of World Cultures

The Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois and there is no charge. It is a great place to explore centuries of sociology and culture. The museum is very open and intimate as well. It brings thousands of years and cultures to one museum. Many of the items in the museum are replicas of famous art exhibits found worldwide. This brings the best opportunity to fully explore and see the great cultures in the world.

The fun of the day was hanging with Kaleb, my nephew, he has been to the museum with school. It was the best to see the different cultures through time in 9 areas. It was fun posing like the statues and seeing the tons of pottery each culture created. Have extra time there are board games to play. The museum offers:

  • Established in 1911 by the Board of Trustees and housed on the 4th floor of Lincoln Hall
  • The World Heritage Museum in 1971
  • Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2009
  • holds more than 50,000 artifacts from six continents from throughout human history
  • Over 50,000 visitors each year
  • Collaborates on research projects with universities and museums across the world
Homer Lake

Homer Lake is a forest preserve that has great walking trails, a beautiful lake, and a place to feed and watch the birds on the outskirts of the county. The beauty of the preserve is gorgeous spring is filling in the branches of the tree and flowers are beginning to bloom. The ducks and geese are nesting or wandering with little ones as I make my way around the park. Looking over the lake, soon a large blue herring flies low over the lake. It begins to rain slightly. What a wonderful sounds as the trees move in the winds. Homer Lake has boaters and fishermen trying to get out of the weather.

Homer Lake is free of charge. They do have an interpretive center where you learn more about the area, animals, birds, and more. They offer packs you can use for your exploration around the park. Each pack has specific adventures that are very insightful to the preserve and many trails. Inside the interpretive center, there are many displays, hands-on activities, and more.

Kickapoo State Park Road Trip Midwest 4chion Lifestyle-1
Kickapoo State Park
Kickapoo State Park

Entering the park at dusk, you hear the bullfrogs, ducks, geese, and birds give their final song for the day. There are fishermen on the shore with their families. The kids run free and explore the forest. It is green and flowers blooming. Hyde, my traveling dog, is loving the space. It is s a bright evening filled with breezes in the trees.  The best part of the exploration was watching the families of ducks make their way to the lake for a final swim. Hyde decided she needed to chase one or two sending the large flock airborne towards one of the 22 lakes in the park.

This park is free and in Vermillion County, close to Sleepy Creek Vineyard. This park offers activities for visitors to fully enjoy the park. The activities include:

  • A multi-purpose recreational trail that will cover 24.5 when completed. It will cover the regions vast ecosystems
  • Biking
  • Tubing
  • Canoeing
  • Paddling
  • Fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, redear sunfish, and during fall rainbow trout. There is a shop for anglers in the park
  • Food stand
  • Boating
  • 6 walking trails
  • Picnic areas
  •  Community events

This was a great find and fun on our trip. Much of the beauty and diversity of the Midwest is seen here at this park.

This community is home to Eberfest, established by long resident Roger Ebert. A supporter of local bands as well as the start of REO Speedwagon with streets carrying the band members’ names. This community brings the arts, farmers’ markets, sports, and education for a great personal or family vacation.

Champaign Food

The Midwest food is all American. The area settled by Europeans including Germans, British, Italian, Hungarians, and Scandinavians. The simple hearty foods with a strong Christian influences continue today. The fusion food trend is not found here as much. You will find that true honest food as it was from the beginning.

This town is a place you find the all American food. It is a place worth stopping and checking out the food scene. This area is in Central Illinois about 2.5 hours south of Chicago. The area surrounded by small farm and dairy communities. It is known for farmers markets, fresh dairy (yes you can buy fresh milk at the farm), ethnic foods, and the classic American food.

Sleepy Creek Vineyard Road Trip Illinois 4Chion Lifestyle
Sleepy Creek Vineyard Road Trip
Sleepy Creek Vineyards

Driving in from St. Louis, you take exit 206 from I-74. The winery is a great location to come for many events. Weekly they have local musicians, wieners and wine, and Winery Mary Bar Every Sunday. The winery has great yearly events from Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and more.

The wine is sweet not a real full-bodied wine. They have a jalapeño red wine they substitute with vodka in the bloody Mary served on Sunday. The place is beautiful and serene setting. Locals bring their picnic lunches, you can buy cheese and crackers, or at times, a food truck might be here. The day we were there they had a band playing in the large barn, a strong community presence sitting outside by the creek overlooking the vineyard.


The Courier Café Urbana

The Courier Café brings Champaign history and old Victorian styling in the decor. The main dining room has:

  • A large palace chandelier from the Opera House in Erie Pennsylvania
  • The cash register is  the first electric cash register
  •  The courier clock pendulum filled with mercury makes the time keeping right
  • The stained glass comes from a Danville church predating the Civil War
  • The Pullman lamps light the aisle for passengers on the Pullman railroad cars
  • The brass chimes a gift from George Malford, a Nickelodeon Maker, they are steamed powered

The Café’s name is for the Courier newspaper that operated for decades in the building. The building was almost lost to fire and remained empty for decades. In 1980, the current owners began remodeling and opened for business on November 10, 1980. They are a farm to table restaurant with the garden and bees on the property for the freshest ingredients.

The menu is a hearty all American menu with breakfast served daily until 11 AM then lunch and dinner menu until closing. The breakfast is traditional eggs, omelets, fantastic pancakes, and hash browns. Their coffee is fresh ground daily and they have special blends. The lunch/dinner menu is hearty with ribeye sandwich, fries, soups, and steak. The food has that home cooked look and feel. They do have a few items for vegetarians including breakfast sausage. They do have one special treat “Courier water this is a sparkling water from deep below the café. It is a great place for large parties and a sense of the community in Champaign.


Amaravati Indian Royal Cuisine Champaign

Amaravati Indian Royal Cuisine primarily brings Southern Indian cuisine to Champaign. Southern Indian cuisine based around rice, lentils, and stews. Dishes The authenticity found in the menu. The waitress knowledge of the menu and very helpful with the dishes.

Enjoying Paneer Tikka Masala with cubes of fresh cottage cheese cooked with green peas in an onion, tomato & cashew based sauce. Garnished with Kasturi methi and cashew pieces. The flavors linger on your pallet. The rice is perfectly cooked. Dessert is rasamalai it is juice and cream. It is a sweet and good amount of heat. This dish has a history of being created in Britain by a Bangladeshi chef.

Champaign Food Road Trip 4Chion Lifestyel
Champaign Food Road Trip
Core Life Eatery Champaign

Entering the eatery, you hear a local band on an early Saturday morning. The eatery is a location of freshness and wholesome. The food is GMO, grass-fed steak, all-natural chicken, and no GMOs.  The broths are center to the soups. You pick your ingredients from a fresh selection that looks like a produce stand.

The soup is heavy in a great vegetable broth the Sriracha soaked bean sprouts make a nice substitute for noodles and Sriracha brings heat to the soup. The kale and Napa cabbage are barely cooked by the hot broth this brings a freshness and crunch to the flavor. The shiitake mushrooms add texture to the soup. It is refreshing with flavors that linger on the plate.

This town is a place to visit and stay a day or two. It has good hotels, offers Air BNB, and a friendly community. There is a lot you can see in town or a little drive.


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