Today the road has brought me to Algonquin, IL.
A trip to this region had been steadily growing in my mind for the past few months. I had actually been in this area back in 2015 when I stopped in the village of West Dundee, IL en route to a review of Cotton Patch Gospel at the Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall, MI.
I had been talking about the locale with a friend and started to reminisce about the fun I had in West Dundee. The vintage arcade. The lovely meal at The Village Squire. The awesome elegance of The Mansion. I began to get the itch to revisit the place.
I tried to convince several of my friends to go, but one had just got back from a trip while another was getting ready to take a small family trip and the other simply wasn’t interested in going. I really didn’t want to go alone. . .unless I could stay at a B & B.
I contacted The Mansion to find out if they had any available rooms towards the end of August, but was out of luck. Acting on an idle thought, I did a search on B & Bs around the West Dundee area and found one for the Victorian Rose Garden in Algonquin. Then I checked to see how far Algonquin was from West Dundee. Hmm, only 4 miles. Did they have any rooms available? Yes, they did. I immediately booked the Presidential Chamber for what I would dub the Decompression Trip.
After the end of a hard month which included beginning rehearsals for my first full scale production in almost 6 years, I was ready for a trip.
Unlike my other trips where I take a day off to make the drive, I actually began this one after work on Friday. The plan was to drive to the Iowa City region where I would stop to rest for the night before finishing the journey the next day.
I had thought to drive just slightly past Iowa City and find a decent place outside the hubbub of a major city, but fate decided to call my bluff as I had difficulty finding any inn, let alone a decent one. I ended up driving nearly an hour longer than I planned and ultimately stopped in Walcott, IA, home of the world’s largest truck stop.
As I hoped the world’s largest truck stop held a pair of hotels, one of which was a Comfort Inn (bada book bada boom!). It was a tiny hotel (only 3 floors), but I got a room on the top floor which I prefer on the rare occasions I stay at a hotel. For an extra $5, I was able to get a king bed and I heaved a contented sigh as my eyes alighted on a small, but comfortable room.
I still needed to eat, but, as the hour was late, I stopped at a nearby Arby’s for a sandwich before returning to the hotel for a bath and a good night’s sleep.
And it truly was a good night’s sleep. I awoke truly well rested and even had the benefit of having a hot breakfast at the hotel where I enjoyed a pair of sausage links with a biscuit and gravy and some apple juice before heading off on the road again.
Driving the extra hour ended up being a good decision as it not only got me closer to my destination, but helped me stay on my schedule as this route was still doing construction as they were back in 2015 which slowed me down a bit.
About 1pm, I had arrived in West Dundee and immediately made a beeline for the Underground Retrocade. For those of you reading my blog for the first time, the Underground Retrocade is a vintage arcade where you pay $15 and get unlimited play for the day. Some new games had been added since I had last visited including. . .a Dragon’s Lair cabinet!!
Dragon’s Lair is my all time favorite video game and revolutionized the industry when it came out in 1983. It was the first interactive animated movie and told the tale of a brave, if slightly clumsy, knight named Dirk the Daring trying to rescue Princess Daphne from the clutches of the dragon, Singe. Make the right move at the right time and you get one step closer to the dragon’s lair. Make the wrong move and Dirk meets an untimely demise.
This was not the original game. Rather, it was the officially licensed 2002 Limited Edition reproduction of which only 400 discs were made. This version included the deleted opening scene on the drawbridge as well as some slightly different timing and moves. The cabinet also included the original prototype version which has a slew of deleted scenes as well as the games Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp. I didn’t reach the lair, but had fun playing.
I more than got my money’s worth as I played pinball versions of Ghostbusters and Doctor Who. I also served drinks in Tapper, fought Bluto and the Sea Hag in Popeye, and conquered Dragon’s Lair II: Timewarp, Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja, and Altered Beast as well as dabbled with Crystal Castles, Rampage World Tour, Fix it Felix, Jr., and Track & Field.
About 3:30pm I headed for the village of Algonquin. As I arrived, I was shocked to see the massive amount of construction being done in the little village, but easily worked my way around it until I found the Victorian Rose Garden, owned and operated by Sherry Brewer.
I rang the doorbell of the inn and glanced around the neighborhood. As I turned back to the door, Sherry’s smiling face had suddenly materialized in the window and the surprise nearly gave me a heart attack.
While my pumper reset itself, Sherry let me into the inn, led me to the Presidential Chamber, and gave me the nickel tour. I put my normal explorations on hold as I headed for worship at St Margaret Mary. This was a very nice and quaint church which holds a Polish service at the second Saturday night service.
It was a moving event which brought back memories of going to church back home in Fort Dodge as we sang hymns that I haven’t sung since my childhood.
After worship, I headed to the Colonial Café and I was starved.
I actually felt the need for a small appetizer so I opened the meal with a small cup of cheddar cheese chowder which had an interesting, but tasty, flavor especially with a dash of pepper. My main course was a Smokehouse BBQ burger which was hearty and juicy and really hit the spot. While I ate, I read The House of Brass by Ellery Queen and met an elderly gentleman who liked the fact that I was reading a book as opposed to being glued to a cell phone.
After dinner I headed back to the inn, where I had some chocolate chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk.
With that dessert, Sherry turned down my bed and left me to my devices. I went around the inn taking pictures (the last set I will take with this camera as it’s falling apart). The house has an understated elegance not unlike visiting Grandma’s house with a music room, gorgeous dining room, and a living room that is almost like stepping back in time. It contains an old-fashioned barber’s chair along with a cupboard of shaving mugs, an old-fashioned gumball machine loaded with marbles, and a rocking horse.
The Presidential Chamber, where I stayed, boasts a very comfy king sized bed as well as some nice easy chairs, a fireplace, a mounted flatscreen TV, and a bathroom with a clawfoot tub and shower and even a bidet. After a long day of driving and activities, I was more than content to simply put my feet up for the night and write and post pictures before drifting off to the land of Nod.
I slept all the way through the night. When I woke up, I got a shower and a shave and was ready for a good meal.
And that is exactly what I got along with some lovely company in the form of Mike and Sue of Ohio and Tone and Yvonne of Stockholm, Sweden. For breakfast there was water, orange juice, and coffee along with an appetizer of fresh fruit, cinnamon scones, and banana nut bread. The main entrée was French Toast croissants with Granny Smith apples, scrambled eggs with home-grown vegetables, and thick slices of bacon along with a heaping side of conversation which Sherry joined in on.
All too soon the conversation and the meal had to come to an end. In hindsight, I wish I had another day to spend here for there are still activities to partake of, but I suspect I will be back again, hopefully with friends to really expand on the fun.
But if you’re in the Algonquin region, spend a night with Sherry at Victorian Rose Garden B & B. It’s a inn as pretty as it sounds with fabulous food and company and quite a bit to do in the region as well as being a hop, skip, and a jump from Chicago.
Until the next time, happy travels.