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Sunday afternoon took me with a strong desire to drive out into the countryside.

Nowhere in particular – just a solitary spin along an open road far from the city.I crossed the Mississippi at Alton and followed Illinois Route 100 past Grafton and onto the Illinois River floodplain near Hardin.

Most often, I drive on into Hardin when I'm in this area but this afternoon I decided to take the Eldred Road that runs beneath the bluffs on the eastern edge of the valley. I had never driven it before.

Eldred – the name took me back to an old Doctor Who episode. The oft repeated Eldrad must live declaration from that show stuck annoyingly in my mind.

I even drove past a quarry, the scene of the opening action in that episode, but rather than discovering a fossilized alien hand in the rubble, I came across an extraordinary white field.It looked like it had been painted with a whitewash made from the white limestone of the quarry and was clearly quite deliberately applied. Only later did I discover that limestone is a useful fertilizer.

I drove on into the tiny town of Eldred and decided this was far enough for my afternoon road trip. So I turned around and drove back the same way as I came, enjoying a lovely afternoon and an almost empty road – at least until I passed Pere Marquette State Park.The little mp3 player I use to provide audio entertainment locked up at this point, so rather than enjoying the wonderfully anachronistic juxtaposition of E. F. Benson's "Miss Mapp" with the Illinois countryside, I listened to "This American Life" on NPR and a deliciously engaging story about the "P.I. Moms" that simply confirmed my long standing belief that television turns almost everyone from producer to watcher into an idiot. The persisting refrain of Eldrad must live in my own mind only reinforced this impression.

The "P.I. Moms" story was coming to its climax as I crossed the bridge at Alton. The sun was very low against the horizon, so I swung off the road into the Lincoln Shields Recreation Area to take some final shots and, reluctantly, miss the dΓ©nouement of "This American Life". Thank goodness for podcasts.

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