From Catsup to Cahokia: One Night in Collinsville, Illinois

DSCF0993September 2012

My husband laughed when I told him we were going to look at the world’s largest catsup bottle. (World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, 800 South Morrison Avenue, Illinois Route 159, Collinsville, IL62234). He was less than thrilled when he discovered that I wasn’t joking and when, at the end of an already long day’s drive, I made him follow the GPS in a direction opposite our booked hotel to find it. But find it we did and now we can say “We saw the world’s largest catsup bottle!” It’s the water tower for Collinsville, Illinois. There’s nothing else to look at. Go there, snap a photo, and be on your way.

As I snapped the photo, Doc turned the car around and headed to our hotel for the night, the Days Inn Collinsville, 12 Commerce Dr., Collinsville, Il 62234.  We knew we’d be spending more money on hotels further down the road so we were looking at this as “a cheap place to sleep” and it served that purpose just fine.   It was clean and quiet but very simple like most budget motels these days. The man working the front desk was pleasant and personable with a smile and a greeting each time we came or went.

After checking in, we headed out for dinner. I chose a restaurant with good reviews, Ravanelli’s, 26 Collinsport, Collinsville, Il.  Doc and I split a 4 piece chicken dinner and it was plenty for the two of us. This is obviously a very popular restaurant with the locals. It is fairly large so on a Saturday night our wait was only about 20 minutes. The place was loud, crowded, noisy, and chaotic. After traveling all day we were tired and just wanted a quiet dinner which made this place pretty intense. It was difficult to talk because we couldn’t hear each other without yelling – due to everyone else in the restaurant yelling, obviously because they couldn’t hear each other either. We ate fast and got the heck out of there. That being said, the food was very good. The fried chicken was the best I’ve ever had. Extremely flavorful and cooked to perfection. If you can deal with the noise, you can get a great meal there. The service was good too even though the waitresses were spread too thin.

The next morning’s activity was our real reason for spending the night in Collinsville. We made a visit to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, 30 Ramey Street, Collinsville, IL 62234. We’d driven past this place on numerous occasions as we passed through on our way to and from other vacations.  I’d always seen it listed on our maps. This time curiosity won out. Cahokia became our first vacation stop.DSCF0994

 Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cahokia was one of the greatest cities of the world influencing cultures from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Cahokia was a sophisticated Native American society of about 20,000 people that operated via a sun calendar and disappeared by 1400. The museum here is very informative and it was fun walking the grounds and imagining how the early inhabitants lived. There is quite a lot of walking but you don’t have to walk the whole of it. It’s easy to see the large mound and walk directly to it without walking the rest of the paths. From the top of the mound you can see the St. Louis arch in the distance. I can imagine that kids might get easily bored here, but for history buff it was a great visit.

 

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