Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24, 2011

Lincoln Home and Tomb

Happy Birthday Sue !!

We hustled into town early to get to the Lincoln Home Visitor Center soon after it opened. Tours of the home are given first come, first served. We were in the first tour, barely.

This is the only home that Lincoln ever owned. The Lincolns lived here for twenty five years up until they went to Washington D.C. The house sits in the middle of a four square block area that has been restored and maintained to be exactly as it was when Lincoln lived here. So much nicer than imagining how a current day antique store or gift shop might have looked 150 years ago.

The house is furnished and decorated as it was in Lincolns time and the majority of the items in the house were those used by the Lincolns. Obviously nothing could be touched but we could touch the hand rail going up and down stairs. Same one Lincoln touched :).

Living room

'Family' Room. Sitting room where family hung out rather than in formal Living Room. All pieces original.

Mrs. Lincoln's music box. The real deal used by her.

Abe Lincoln's wardrobe and dresser, both original.

Kitchen stove. Top of the line for its' day. Mrs. Lincoln did all the cooking.

Most photographed view of Lincolns home

First Presbyterian Church. Located two blocks from Lincoln Home. Contains pew where Lincoln family sat. Church closed today so no inside pictures.

After leaving the home complex we visited the Lincoln Tomb.

Front of Tomb.

Hallway inside tomb leading to crypt. Lighting was not this bright. Brightness is due to ISO feature of camera but does make picture easier to see.

Actual crypt is ten feedt below and several feet behind the stone. Crypts of Mary Lincoln and three of four Lincoln sons are behind camera position.

We left Springfield about 11:30 and ended up in Mulberry Grove, MO. Nice spot. Kinda like Mayberry only smaller :) . And no Aunt Bea.

The RV campground we stayed in was something we have not experienced before. Almost every RV park has some long term (permanent :) ) residents. They have flowers and picket fences and patio lights and other homey things. This campground was almost all that but everyone leaves by November. There were lots of trees, many camping loops, some on hill sides, some in little creek bottoms, some on grassy flats. Each area was kind of a small neighborhood. Several playgrounds. Fishing pond. Pool. Community pavilion. Every one had a golf cart. There were kids everywhere, many of them scooting around on carts. Lots of people interaction with friends and neighbors. Every site had a fire ring and many sites had a cord of wood ort more. The only use for the wood was for campfires since everyone was in a RV ov some sort. It was like a summer camp for RVs. People come and stay for the summer or bring their RV, park it and come on weekends to stay. The RVs are parked like permanent residents though. Decks, wooden stairs, BBQs, patio furniture, plants, decorative lighting, semi-permanent sewer hook ups, etc. By November they just hook up the RV and take it home leaving all that stuff behind for next year. Very different but nice to see.

September 23, 2011


South from Moline area to Springfield, IL. This is where Abraham Lincoln called home. He lived here for twenty five years prior to moving to Washington D.C. to assume the Presidency. Obviously there is much in this city related to Lincoln.

This afternoon we visited two spots across the street from each other. The first was the Lincoln Museum. When we parked in the campground just north of town we asked the host how to find the museum. He looked at his watch (it was 12:30) and said, "If you hurry you just might make it". Huh? "It takes over four hours to go through it." After a quick lunch we hurried off. He wasn't too far off on his timing. It took us over three hours and we could probably have spent some more time. The best way to describe the experience is 'Go There!!' Totally informative and entertaining. Several presentations done using VERY life like holography. Informative self guided tours tracing his early life and his Presidency along with several galleries of artifacts.
each self guided tour is a walk through a series of rooms and dioramas, some with videos, some with interactive information, all very educational and entertaining. We were never bored or wanting to hurry on. Pictures are permitted in only one pretty restricted area so the best way to describe it is "Go There!!".

Entrance to early years area

Entrance to Presidency years.

Photo op in rotunda of museum

The second spot we visited is the Lincoln Library located across the street from the museum. There was a well done temporary display on Civil War soldiers that we toured but mostly this is a typical research library. It is open to all. I'm sure there are restrictions and protocols for use but we didn't get into that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

If You Build It....
South now along The Great River Road, one of Americas scenic byways. Along the river or a few miles inland it is nice road in pretty country. By chance (yah, right) our route south just happened to go by the movie site for "Field of Dreams". Obviously if we were within half a state of of this spot we had to go there. It looks just like in the movie. A baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field with a farm house and some barns to the side. The farm house, barns, and corn were there before and were not changed when the field was built. Excellent research by some movie site searcher. We walked the field, took pictures, and visited the gift shop and then headed on.

Picture of picture but it gives best overview

Center field from first base foul line

Small base runner

From Dyersville, it was south over country roads and freeways to Davenport and then across the Mississippi River to Illinois. We parked in a very nice RV resort that will be closing for the season in three weeks. When we checked in I asked if we might rinse the dust off our car. The staff said 'Go for it. Wash the RV too.' So we did. Both look much better now.

After washing vehicles we went back over the Mississippi to visit the town where Buffalo Bill was born. We have been to his grave, and the outstanding multiple museum in Cody, WY and now to his birth town.

Back over the river again to Moline to see the John Deere Pavilion. Contained therein are several examples of John Deere tractors and other machines past and present. The new machines are pretty impressive. They can pretty much till, seed, nurture, and harvest crops by themselves. Farmer just sits in plush, air conditioned cab and watches things happen. Doesn't even have to steer.

September 21, 2011

East to the Mississippi

East again with the Mississippi River as our goal. But first, a serendipitous find.

Most of us probably remember one or more church hymns from childhood or our teens that seem to stick with us. For me one of those songs was/is "The Little Brown Church in the Vale". Every time I sang it I would picture a quaint little church nestled in a green, picturesque valley somewhere in New England. There would be trees turning color and maybe even a horse and buggy. Several days ago while researching our coming route I made an interesting discovery in the description of one of the towns. An exciting find right on our route. Just outside a small Iowa town we came around a bend in the road and there it was. In a grove of trees, on level ground, surrounded by miles and miles of Iowa corn fields, was the actual "Little Brown Church in the Vale".

There are several interesting facts about the song and the church but I will not try to relate them all. It is a very nice church inside and outside situated on immaculate grounds. Lots of care in keeping it up.

Apparently there are others who feel some nostalgia with the song/church. To date more than 74,000 couples have been married in this church. That is not an error. 74,000+ .

There is a tradition that couples married in the church immediately proclaim their new status by jointly pulling the rope to ring the bell in the bell tower. This is the rope that goes through a hole in the narthex ceiling.

After the church, more drive east to the Mississippi. At the river we went north a few miles to our first National Park Service site for this trip. Effigy Mounds National Monument is a very small fractional preservation of the ceremonial/burial mounds created all over the eastern half of the continent by the early ancestors of the Native Americans. It is a quiet, pretty little park with excellent interpretive center and nice trail of about two miles that passes by a number of the mounds.

Unmowed grass is actual mound(portion of one)

Mississippi River from bluff where mounds are located.

Spent the night in a quiet state park several miles south. Actually it is called Pikes Peak State Park. Same guy, several states removed :) .

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011

Winnebago Factory Tour

East across Iowa to Forest City. More corn and soy beans. And wind. There are lots of wind turbines in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. And today was an especially windy day according to locals.

Forest City is the home of Winnebago RV. We camped in a very nice city park and then to Winnebago visitor center for tour. Very impressive tour of much of the facilities. Unlike many RV makers, Winnebago makes and assembles pretty much every thjing that goes into their RVs onsite except for the basic chassis. VERY impressive to see the detail and quality that goes into these rvs. We toured Monoco RV plant in Oregon last year. Monoco is a very upscale, expensive RV. I was much more impressed with the Winnebago production. We aren't looking for a change but I would look hard at Winnebago if we were.

For those interested here is map of our trip so far.

September 19, 2011

Minnesota (briefly) and then to Iowa

More I90 through corn and soybean fields and then into the extreme southwest corner of Minnesota. Just past the border we headed north thirty miles to Pipestone National Monument. In this area a layer of Pipestone was (is) near the surface and Native Americans quarried (still do) the stone to make pipe bowls as well as other decrative items. The area was so sacred to all tribes that warlike intentions and animosites were suspended when there. The stone is still mined as it always has been - by hand. No power tools of machines. The layers of quartzite (30 - 50 feet or more) have to be removed a chunk at a time to get to the Pipestone layer. Lots of hard work. The quaries are in the middle of a tall grass prairie and there is a nice interpretive trail through the prairie and quaries.

Back south and into Iowa. We stayed the night in a state park in Evansville. Very quiet. We were the only people there. Bright and clear all day and evening. About 5:00 this morning (Tuesday) we woke to thunder and lightening and some rain. By 7:00 it was totally done.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011

Lewis and Clark Center and Corn Palace

First a follow up from yesterday.

Missouri River without wind

Remnants of flooding

Bike trail in flood zone

East on rural highway from Pierre (every highway from Pierre is rural) along the Missouri River. Now I can relate to the line in the song 'Shenandoah' that says "across the wide Missouri". Crossed the Missouri on a dam and then south to I90 and east again to recross the river. On a bluff over looking the river is a rest stop with a Lewis and Clark interpretive center (one of many along the trace of their route). This one was dedicated toward the boats used and what provisions they carried. Even had a full sized replica of the flat boat that they used for the first part of their journey. Huge rest stop. Would put most truck stops to shame size wise but still clean and neat and picturesque.

East another 60 miles to Mitchell, SD. Two claims to fame. Home town of George McGovern and probably better known for The Corn Palace. It is Sunday so McGovern Library was closed but The Corn Palace was going strong. In fact there was a polka fest in progress. The Corn Palace is an auditorium/convention center known for its interior and exterior murals. They are done in corn and other local farm products (hay and something that has a reddish brown tuft to it). The murals cover the interior and exterior walls. Each year the murals are completely redone with a different theme. Fun to see and the auditorium was pretty impressive also. Local college playes basketball there and there are a variety of entertainment functions. Looks like every seat has a good view too.

Close up showing ears of corn of different colors.

Some of the inside murals

Seating - looks pretty nice.