Spirit of Peoria

 

 

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Spirit of Peoria Cruise and
Hardy's Reindeer Ranch
May 20 - 24, 2018

5.27.18:  This was a fantastic trip. It way exceeded our expectations. I haven't stopped talking about it and I think my neighbors are starting to avoid me because they've heard it over and over.  Tomi F.

5.31.18  Tom and I just finished looking at all the pictures you posted of our trip. Thank you so much for sharing them with all of us. This was one of the best trips we have ever gone on. Your trips are simply outstanding and we really appreciate all you do to make them special. We look forward to more in the future.  Carol S.

 

I am going to have a very difficult describing this trip to give it enough credit for what it was.  It has to rank as one of my favorite trips in all of the 17 years of trips that we have offered.  We had a wonderful group of 40 on this trip and did not hear one complaint.  We had a marvelous time.

On Day 1, we traveled to Pair-A-Dice Hotel and Casino for an overnight stay.  We enjoyed a dinner buffet and had a bit of time to play in the casino if we chose to do so.  Art & Rosemary along the walk at the casino.

On Day 2, it was an early boarding onto the Spirit of Peoria.  A super breakfast buffet was waiting for us as we got onboard.  It was a rainy morning, but there was entertainment on the 2nd deck of the boat.  I found this to be a bonus, as some of us may not have known the quality of the banjo and guitar playing and the piano playing.  These 2 men were filled with extremely interesting stories and river lore.  It was a true relaxing experience for me, as once we boarded the riverboat, the crew took over and I was just a passenger.  There were a total of 60 on the cruise and our group totaled 41.

On Days 2, 3, and 4, we rode on a Green River Lines bus.

I'm sure some of the pictures will be out of chronological order.

We went under a couple of unusual bridges.  We are accustomed to seeing the platforms raise to the sides, but with these bridges, the entire platform lifted upward.

 

We passed many barges and spotted many American Bald Eagles.

Lunch time arrived for a build-your-own sandwich buffet.

 

 

A wine and cheese buffet was served at 3:00 PM.

Dinner this evening was prime rib.  I can't believe I did not get a picture.  All food was fresh and prepared on the boat in the kitchen pictured below.

We pulled into Meredosia Landing and motor coached to the Abraham Lincoln Hotel for the evening.  There was plenty of time to explore Springfield, Illinois. 

 

Some of us decided to explore the 2-block area that was blocked off, featuring many Lincoln related displays.

 

The entertainers on the boat told us if we wanted to sit back and have a drink, there was a nice little pub across the street from the hotel.  So before retiring for the evening, we decided to stop in for a bit.  And who did we find in the pub?

Morning came and we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before departing for the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.  If you have not been there, the museum is spectacular.

There was a marvelous movie just inside the entrance.  This was a movie like I had never seen before.  I only wish pictures would have turned out for those who did not experience it.....although I think everyone in our group attended.

It was a spectacular day for relaxing and watching the river flow. 

A hot lunch buffet awaited us after boarding around noon, with more entertainment and storytelling.

 

 

A bit of a snack at 3:00 PM.

A ham buffet was served for dinner.

We then landed at Grafton Landing and were transported to Pere Marquette Lodge for the evening.

They kept the winery open in case we'd like a glass of wine, which some of us did.....taking it out onto the patio to enjoy the view.

 

The next morning was breakfast at the lodge before boarding the boat.

We passed a casino along the way. 

Today our entertainment was the banjo/guitar player, and the piano player (who had another engagement) was replaced by another piano player and a wonderful young man who was his protegee.  This 23 year old was finishing up his Masters with a full ride and was next moving on to his PhD with a full ride.  He was marvelous!  Boy, could he play that piano!

We went through a couple of locks which were littered with logs and debris.  It was a slow ride getting out.

Art giving thanks to the cook for the wonderful meals.

At some point, we had brisket which was smoked on the boat, served with homemade BBQ sauce.  I've kind of lost track of the days.  LOL!

The last day of the cruise, we landed in St. Louis near the Gateway Arch and were free to explore St. Louis, some choosing to go up in the arch.  We wandered around a bit, then stopped into a pub to cool off.

Waiting for the bus to pick us up in St. Louis.  It was an extremely hot day.

 

We were motor coached back to the Peoria Landing where we started.  Our Cardinal bus was there to pick us  up and take us back to Pair-A-Dice Casino and Hotel for the evening.  I might mention that I came out ahead $25 the first night we were there, and $65 the second night.

We enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the casino before departing for Hardy's Reindeer Ranch.  What a fun time that was!  Julie and her husband greeted the bus, let us use the facilities, then we boarded onto a wagon for a tour of the grounds.

Their Christmas tree farm.

They make a corn maze in the fall.  You can probably not see it well, put this is a picture of what the corn maze will be this fall - a dinosaur.

While the second half of our group went on the tour, we visited their very unique gift shop.  I had to buy a BBQ sauce called "Colon Cleaner".

Then we boarded our bus, went about 1 mile down the road to see the reindeer.  Now these were friendly reindeer!  Julie gave us each graham crackers and instructed us to put the end in our mouth and the reindeer would take them from us.  She said they only like Nabisco Honey Grahams.  Spoiled?  No!!!  They look a bit shabby, as they were just beginning to shed their fur for the summer.

This mother was pretty protective of her 1 week old baby.

Two babies about 4 weeks old.

 

 

We then went back to the main ranch and into the dining room for a chuckwagon dinner.

After eating, then came our entertainment.  This guy was super!  Great songs and great stories, with some of the songs being just a little on the side-splitting tacky side.  I think they were his originals.

Toward the end of the entertainment, Julie asked me which lady from our group would be best to bring on stage.  Of course, I picked Susie!  There was another bus group there and they furnished the man.

Susie made the cutest reindeer of all!

And our group - minus a couple who had wandered off.

I know some of these pictures are out of order, but this was a tough page to put together.