We often travel along the interstate highway system. It is a quick and straightforward way to get to most destinations these days. But it does lack charm. When you're travelling at 70MPH and bypassing every small town, there are things that you miss. You miss the character of each small town, the local cafe, the mom and pop shops, the small hardware stores, and little treasures that are tucked away. Too often along the interstate we see something unique just as we pass it, and there isn't another exit for miles ahead. So sometimes, we like to take the road less traveled, and go on the small highway. You know, the one that goes through every little town. From 55MPH in the country to 30MPH in town. Every 5 to 10 miles you have to slow down for another town. But we often find that nearly every town has something unique! Some hidden gem that isn't well known. It might be a nice city park where our boys can get out and play on the playground. We've found an old piano sitting out on the sidewalk in an old dusty western downtown. We want to share some of these hidden gems with you! Maybe you'll be travelling along and want to stop and see some of these cool sights and experience them for yourself!
We were travelling north on US 51 on the way to record our new album Stale Bread & Sour Wine. We chose to take this smaller highway because it only took a few minutes longer and avoided the heavier traffic near Saint Louis. We had just passed through the small town of Patoka, IL when a sign caught my eye. It said- "WARNING! Fire-breathing dragon spotted ahead. Beware! Check out the Kaskaskia Dragon!" Hmmm, I thought that looked interesting! I told Clair and the boys that there was supposed to be a dragon up ahead! A couple towns up the road was Vandalia- Illinois' capital city from 1819-1839. The dragon was supposed to be in this town. A quick Google search gave me directions to the location of the dragon and a couple locations to find gold coins that make the dragon breathe fire! If you are ever traveling near Vandalia, it is worth the stop!
You can find the dragon at- 2024 Progress West Drive, Vandalia, IL 62471.
There is a hardware store and a liquor store near the dragon where you can get coins to make the dragon breathe fire! I walked into the hardware store expecting to pay for the chance to see a fire breathing dragon, but the clerk there handed me two coins and there was no charge! We drove back to the dragon and parked. Edwin was so excited to see this huge metal dragon staring down at him. We put the coin in and sure enough fire came out from the dragon's mouth! It was very windy that day, so it wasn't a huge flame, but we'll definitely go back!