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By CONNOR ASHLOCK
Social distance, cancelations, “after COVID” dreaming — 2021 has been absolutely abnormal and downright bonkers. Why? Well from getting vaccinated to booster shots to prevent the spread of different variants to the valid speculation that the formal end of the pandemic might very well be celebrated with steeple bells ringing out, services of thanksgiving and a maybe a ticker tape paradeor two. There might even be initiatives to make the words “social” and “distance” illegal to say together. No matter what the future holds though, the fact remains that the country still has a little ways to go before we are out of the woods.
Thankfully, autumn has arrived and has provided some alleviation to the mental taxation this year has imposed on the world. There is apple picking, pumpkin carving, weenie and marshmallow roasting, ghost stories, bonfires, camping, hiking, gourd gazing and a plethora of other activities that can be carried out in solitude or in small groups. Not to be left out, though, is the good old-fashioned, time-honored tradition of the Sunday drive.
One can drive past old barns, harvestores, stately country manors and through scenic small towns any time of year, but for some reason, fall causes these things to stand out like no other. Fall, unlike any other season, has the power to cause a change in one’s bent of mind, so get out there and enjoy a drive to remember this year. Between Jersey, Greene and Calhoun counties, there’s plenty of breathtaking roads to embark on that’ll keep one preoccupied for a whole weekend, and these roads are among the most spectacular in the tri-county area:
■ Jersey County
Crystal Lake Road from Highway 67, all the way to the Delhi-Brighton blacktop. Once at the blacktop, turn right to go toward Delhi, turning right again onto Stagecoach Road and veering right at the “Y” that segues into Rangeline Road. Follow Rangeline to Route 16 and turn left to head back into Jerseyville. Go west out of Jerseyville on Route 16 toward Fieldon. After a couple miles, you’ll want to turn right onto Bethany Church Road. You’ll eventually see the sign for Reddish Ford Road. Turn onto that road, take it slow and steady, and enjoy a geologicvjewel of Jersey County. You’ll stay on the road for a long while. When you makevit to the bridge that travels over Macoupin Creek, you can turn around there and go back the way you came, or keep left and follow the road even further, eventually coming to a “Y,” with your options being to veer left on Dunham Road or right to Pleasant School Road. You’ll want to veer left onto Dunham and keep following that road all the way until you approach another “Y” intersection — this one telling you that no matter which way you take, you’ll be onReddish Road (notice it’s a different road, as the “Ford” isn’t mentioned). You’ll want to veer left, which will eventually lead you to Highway 16. Once at Highway 16, you may either turn left to go toward Fieldon or Jerseyville, or take a right to make your way to Hardin.
Don’t forget to take a scenic drive through Pere Marquette State Park and test your knowledge of tree identification. If you don’t know how to identify any trees, here’s a tip to get you started: You’re looking for bark-covered plants that have bushy, multi-colored leaves on them.
■ Greene County
Turn onto Woody Road off of Highway 67 and take it all the way down to the River Road. Turn left and continue on to Eldred. At the stop sign, turn right to enjoy the beauty of Coles Hill and mosey on back to Carrollton. Turn off Highway 67 onto Berdan Road and continue through Berdan. Turn left onto NE 375 Avenue, then turn left onto NE 600 St., which will lead you back into Berdan. Keep it simple by staying on Highway 67. Drive around Carrollton, White Hall and Roodhouse and reflect on the good times had in the various towns through the years.
Turn off Route 100 onto Hamburg-Michael Road and travel on into Hamburg. Turn off the highway at the Batchtown “T” and take the road up into Batchtown. Turn left onto South Mississippi River Road. Next, turn left onto Tepen Hollow Road and follow it back to the Illinois River Road. If you’re feeling frisky, go north out of Hardin on Route 100 and take it into Kampsville. In Kampsville, turn left onto Route 96, then turn left onto North Mississippi Road. Follow it into Batchtown, turning left onto East Main Street and take that road all the way to the Illinois River Road, then turn left and go back to Hardin.