The Rockford Files

Rolling Home to Rockford

According to the official website of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, if we had stuck to the prescribed route, our excursion would have taken us approximately 1,160 miles.  Here on our 12th day out, however, we have just logged our 2,200th mile, and we are still 30 miles east of Rockford.  My obsession with lighthouses (a product of a youth lived near one of the most impressive pier lights, complete with catwalk, on Lake Michigan) has taken us out to the tip of every peninsula along the Lake Michigan shore, most of which turned out to be much longer than the maps indicate.  With a few side trips and a bit of backtracking, we have traveled a distance greater than the length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, all within a few miles of the most pleasant of the Great Lakes.

This vacation has been the longest any of us has been away from Rockford in the almost nine years since we moved here.  Twelve days of camping with five children, with no more than two nights at any one campground, has been enjoyable but tiring, and, for the first time, the long drive through the flat, unexceptional plains of Northern Illinois, stretching off to the horizon in both directions from I-90, feels truly like coming home.

A few months ago, in a long, rambling, and pleasant conversation about the past and possible futures of Rockford, Chuck Sweeny, the political editor of the Rockford Register Star, remarked that...

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