In the past week we finished three of our 375-milliliter bottles of good balsamic vinegar, and the fourth only had a couple of tablespoons left. It was time for Hubby Tony and I to make another road trip to the Olive Oil Marketplace pick up more.
[We stumbled upon the store in 2018. Even though it's a half hour from home, across the Mississippi River in Alton, Illinois, Tony and I think it's worth the drive. Their balsamic vinegar is the thickest and most flavorful I've ever found (and I've looked in a lot of places). I've been known to drizzle it on a salad straight up.]
As each bottle of vinegar became empty I rinsed it out thoroughly and set it aside, because the store gives you a dollar off a new bottle if you bring in the empty one. Last night I drained out the last of the fourth bottle and washed it, too. This morning I pulled out the store's bottle carrier and filled it with our returns.
Tony drove. There was some road construction on both the interstate and the state highway leading to Alton, but traffic was light. When we entered the store the owner was busy with another customer, but we've been there enough to know the system-find something you want to taste and pour a sample into a tiny paper sample cup. Our empty bottles had held Garlic Cilantro, White Pineapple, Mango, and Traditional Aged Balsamic. By the time it was our turn we had decided to refill all of the bottles except the Mango, which I changed to Strawberry.
Business finished, it was time to walk around. Sadly, since it was Tuesday many of the independently owned stores were closed, but the architecture of the old Alton residences is fun to look at. Along the way we stopped at Post Commons, a coffee shop/restaurant in an old U. S. Post Office building and ordered coffee, which came in funky ceramic mugs.
On the trip home we decided to take surface streets instead of the interstate. When Tony pointed out we weren't too far from where I grew up and asked if I would like to visit the area. I said that sounded like an excellent idea.
There were a lot of memories made in that growing-up house. My family moved into the newly-developed subdivision in the mid-1960s. I moved out when Tony and I got married in 1980. A friend who lived several streets away bought her parent's house when they downsized in the 1990s. I made occasional visits, but eventually she sold that house and there was no reason for me to go anymore.
Tony did a great job of remembering where to turn into the subdivision and how to navigate the rest of the way. Because the trees were so much bigger than they were back when we were dating he had trouble remembering the exact location, but he slowed down when I pointed it out. The house and yard were nicely kept. There was a car in front and we could see someone inside. Tony asked if I was interested in talking to the person, but I declined. From there Tony drove through the subdivision while I pointed out things.
Eventually we reached the neighborhood park, where we got out and walked around.The playground looked the way I remembered it, and the man-made hill on the south side was still there. As a child I was more of a bookworm than an outdoor adventurer, but I did my fair share of playing on the paths through the forested area just past the hill. Now that area was just a jumble of vegetation, probably due to the fact that just beyond it is Coldwater Creek, where radioactive waste contamination was discovered after I moved away from the area.