The other day I noticed that our supply of balsamic vinegar was getting low. Two of the three 375 milliliter bottles were down to dregs, and the third wasn't far behind. It was time to go on a road trip to get more. A couple of years ago Hubby Tony and I stumbled onto a store called Olive Oil Marketplace, and tasted their flavored balsamic vinegar. It was the best we've ever had, and we became complete vinegar snobs.
The store has two Illinois locations. One is in Alton (at the northern end of the metropolitan area) and the other is in Belleville (almost directly across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis). Both are approximately the same distance from us, but in my opinion Alton has more places to explore. That's where we headed today.
The store didn't open until 11 am, and Tony asked if we could leave early to stop at a museum called The National Great Rivers Museum, run by the Army Corps of Engineers. I agreed.
The building is right next to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam on the Mississippi River. When we pulled into the parking lot there were no other cars. Inside, we found out that a tour was going to start in five minutes. The tour ended up being just the two of us and a knowledgeable docent. She highlighted some of the museum displays, then we walked outside. Although we were unable to take the elevator up to the top of the lock (it's been discontinued due to COVID restrictions), we got to see group of barges go through the lock. It was fascinating to see the dozen barges tied together and being guided by the channel by the tugboat at the rear.
At the vinegar store we sampled seven or eight varieties, and ended up buying bottles of garlic cilantro, black walnut and white balsamic peach. Based on past experience those should last us about a year, although we left the store with a lot of new ideas for using our purchase.
It was time to get some steps in. We've walked through the small downtown Alton area enough to know we wanted to see something else this time. From the store we went west, turned right at the end of the road, then turned left at the first residential street. We ended up in an area on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River called the Christian Hill Historic District, filled with large Victorian houses.
Tony and I sauntered around for about a half hour, then decided to head back to the car. Just before we got there I saw a statue of the musician Miles Davis, who I fond out was born in Alton in 1926, (but moved with his family to East St. Louis the next year.)
|Young Man with a Horn|