Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Historic Route 66--Springfield to Bloomington, Illinois

The forecast was for light rain most of the day. Instead of going to Lincoln's New Salem we took a nostalgic drive on Route 66. We caught the historic route in Springfield and headed north to Williamsville, then to Elkhart where we found a geocache in the local veterans' memorial. The red truck in the background was running with no one in it the whole time we were searching for the cache.

From Elkhart, it was a short drive to Broadwell where you see the sign for Pig Hip. The restaurant is no longer around, but the sign is in good repair.
Lincoln was our next stop. The Mill used to be painted blue and featured Dutch food as well as grilled cheese sandwiches and fried schnitzel. Now, it is being refurbished by its new owners. Opening date is unknown.
Also in Lincoln is Abe in the world's largest covered wagon--recognized as such by Guinness World book of Records. This is a recent addition to Route 66 as it was finished after 2000.
The next town on our route was Atlanta. We made a stop at J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator and Museum. We were looking for a geocache when a man drove up and offered to open the museum for us. He was the official tour guide and didn't usually open the museum on off days. He was knowledgeable about the mill and everything in since he had worked in it when he was a young man. The brick building houses the engine to run the machinery in the mill. They were never located in the same building due to the flammability of grain dust. The rail car is situated to show how it would have been loaded. If you look closely you can see the chute that would have delivered the grain to the car.
This wagon is in the unloading position inside the grain elevator. There was a 'see-saw' in the floor to lower the back wheels after the wagon back of the wagon was removed. Once the wagon was tipped, the grain would flow into the elevator.
From Atlanta we drove to Bloomington/Normal. Normal is the town where the original Steak 'n' Shake was opened. Now that building is a pizza place. In Bloomington, we made a stop at the Beer Nuts Factory and Company Store. In the store there was an island where you could sample all the products they make. I really liked the pecans. Bob like the hot bar mix.
 We purchased a few items and then returned to Atlanta. Bob and I wanted to eat in Palms Grill Cafe. In its heyday, it was also the Greyhound Bus Station. If you wanted the bus to stop, you flipped a switch in the restaurant to light the bus sign below the cafe sign.
The diner has been restored to its 1934 appearance. Bob ordered fish and chips while I got the big fish sandwich. There was more food than we should have eaten. Bob's even came with fried pickles.
Across the street from Palms Grill Cafe was the Bunyon statue. This used to stand in front of Bunyon's Restaurant in Cicero, but was moved to Atlanta. We had our picture taken by one of two German travelers living their dream--riding BMW touring bikes on Route 66 from Chicago to L. A.
We returned to Springfield and caught the pink elephant with martini and Cozy Dog Drive-In.
 Cozy Dog is the place where hot dogs on a stick (aka corn dogs) were invented during World War II.
Saturday was forecast to be a sunny, warm day so we took a trip to Lincoln's New Salem. This a village recreated to show where Lincoln lived as a young man. He lived in New Salem for about 6 years. The village only survived for about 12 years. We looked through the museum an then walked around the old village. There were several volunteers working as living historians. The cooper's shop is the only original building in the village. The others were recreated using artifacts from archaeological digs and papers surviving from the era.
 The sleeping quarters were crowded, depending on how many children a family had. I especially enjoyed the church/schoolhouse which had children's toys from that time period displayed.  The stores sold brandy, rum and whiskey even though most people followed the temperance movement.
 We enjoyed our visit to Lincoln's New Salem.
 As we were leaving, Bob spotted a flyer for Fall Festival in the town of Petersburg. We decided to stop in and see what it was all about. It was a typical fall festival with street vendors, crafts, pumpkins, gourds, and food trucks. There was a microbrewery, Hand of Fate, in the town so we went in to sample their wares. The brewmaster recommended a pizza place in a neighboring town as being a good place to eat.  So we set off for Athens (pronounced with a long A) to get pizza before heading back to Sol. The brewmaster was correct, the Boar's Nest had excellent pizza. They also sold 'shoes' in sizes from pony to Clydesdale!

Sunday we spent the day shopping and doing things in Sol. We took our afternoon walk through Lincoln Park and around the fairgrounds.

Monday we rode our bikes on Lost Bridge Trail between Springfield and Rochester. It was a great trail and we even found a couple of geocaches.
 In Rochester we happened on the Stevens house which Abe Lincoln had a hand in helping the widow with financial papers when he was a circuit riding lawyer.
We enjoyed our stay in Springfield, but it was time to move on to Iowa. Sol's date with the factory is nearing and we have friends to visit before Sol gets fixed. Tuesday we will move to Coralville, Iowa and a Corps of Engineer Campground.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring All Things Lincoln--Springfield, Illinois

It was a quick trip to Springfield. Our plan was to spend one week at Rural King Campground, Illinois State Fairgrounds. We arrived and found that the office didn't open until 11:30 so we parked in an open space and waited. While we were waiting, we drove around the campground and decided that we wanted to park in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. The grass sites at the top of the hill looked to be uneven and didn't have sewer connections. The site we finally got was a 50 amp site with water and sewer.
 After we were settled, it was time to head downtown to check out what was available to see in the area. Our first stop was the Springfield Visitor Center, not to be confused with the Lincoln Visitor Center. At the Springfield Visitor Center, we collected brochures on Lincoln sites, Route 66, and a bicycle map of Illinois. I filled out a quick survey--3 questions--and the attendant gave us a parking permit good for 3 days. It came in handy, we only had to look for grey top meters which allowed for 5 hours parking.

From the visitor center we walked around the block to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library.
 The museum had a lot of information on Lincoln's life including displays showing the events leading to his Presidency.
From the museum and library we walked to Union Depot to see an exhibit from the movie Lincoln. It was somewhat of a disappointment to me as it was just costumes used in the movie. I'm not sure what I expected, but seeing costumes from a movie I didn't really care for was not something I wanted to see. The depot is the red-roofed building in the background.
After walking around downtown for a while, we went back to Sol to plan our adventure for Wednesday. Since our parking permit was good for three days, we would tour Lincoln's Home National Historic Site(neighborhood).
 The tour of Lincoln's Home is free, but you have to stop in the Visitor Center to get tickets as tours are limited to small groups.
 Our guide said Lincoln had trouble sleeping....could it have something to do with the wallpaper?
 After walking around Lincoln's neighborhood and taking a picture of his house from across the street, we were accosted by a crazy woman.
 Bob and I were strolling along the street when a woman ran out of Anderson House yelling, "I can't believe it!" over and over again. It turned out that it was Bob's sister Paula, from Colorado and not far behind her was his sister Donna, from Florida! After greeting each other, it was decided that we would all eat lunch together after they took the tour of Lincoln's Home.
 We ate lunch at Obed and Isaac's Microbrewery and Eatery. Paula and Donna recommended we get a 'shoe' which is a whole lot of food. Bob and I split a shoe as did Paula and Donna. It was good, but not something I would order again.

Donna and Paula followed us back to Sol so they could see our new rig. After a short visit, we said our good-byes. Paula and Donna were heading to Siloam Springs to surprise Bob's mother for her 86th birthday. Bob and I rested a bit and then went for a walk through the fairgrounds and Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is not far from the fairgrounds and it became our go-to place for afternoon walks.

 As we walked through the fairgrounds we had to get a picture of the very tall Abraham Lincoln as a railsplitter. Yes, there was a cache located behind Abe.
 Then we continued on to Lincoln Park and found the geocaches placed there.
 From Lincoln Park we continued to Oak Ridge Cemetery where Lincoln's Tomb is located. Bob and I both rubbed Lincoln's nose for good luck.
 We followed a bus tour group through the tomb. Lincoln, Mary, and three of their four sons are buried here. The fourth, Robert is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
 The outside of the tomb is as impressive as the interior.
Bob and I decided that our afternoon walk had taken us farther than we expected and it was time to head back to Sol. Once back at Sol, we found we had walked over four miles! Time to eat dinner and plan one more day in downtown Springfield.

The next day we toured the old capitol building and Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana-Thomas House. We used our parking permit for both venues. The Old State Capitol building is a reconstruction  of the fifth Illinois statehouse that played an important role in Lincoln's political career. It was completely reconstructed in the 1960s. The rooms are set up in 1850's decor.
I was able to hold the gavel in the Illinois Senate's chamber.
 The capitol had a pedestrian zone on the south side.
Along the edge of the pedestrian zone we found a plaque marking the departure site of the Donner Party and at the corner was a Korean War Memorial Museum.
 From the capitol we made our way to the Dana-Thomas house. This is the first Frank Lloyd Wright house we have toured. After seeing this house, I would like to see some of his other work.
 The outside of the house was beautiful. I loved the windows, but was surprised when we entered the house and it wasn't as bright as I expected.  The house was restored to its 1903 beginnings. Pictures were not allowed in the house, so enjoy our photos of the outside!
After our tour we went back to Sol for lunch. After lunch we returned to Oak Ridge Cemetery to find the grave of Accordion Man and to visit the war memorials.

Bob had read the story of Roy Bertelli on Roadside America. Mr. Bertelli purchased the plot and then was told it was sold to him in error. He was willing to return the plot until lawyers got involved. He decided to keep the plot, built a crypt on it and on occasion, sat on it playing the accordion! He paid to have upkeep on the plot in perpetuity. As a final act of defiance, he purchased another plot in a cemetery across town. When Roy died in 2003 at the age of 90 he chose to be buried in the plot across town.
We enjoyed our visits to Springfield. For our next adventure we planned to travel on Historic Route 66 north of Springfield.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Carlyle, Illinois--A Stop Along the Route

Since we spent time sightseeing in Vincennes, we got a late start to our next stop. Looking at the map we decided to stop at Carlyle, Illinois. The Army Corps of Engineers has several campgrounds around Lake Carlyle, but we chose to stay at a Harvest Host member. Plus, it would give us another night using our solar--which we put to good use in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To ensure we had a picture of our campsite, Bob and I both snapped several! This is a view of Sol from Bretz Wildlife Lodge and Winery.
Here is another view of our site for the night. This one was taken from the back patio of the lodge.
And this is the back of the lodge. The manager told us we were a day late---there was a big festival the day before we arrived, complete with live music and wine tastings. I did take advantage of a wine tasting in the lodge after we registered.
We enjoyed our night at Bretz, but we were anxious to move on to Springfield, Illinois, where we would spend one week sightseeing.
See you in Springfield!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Next Stop--Vincennes, Indiana

After perusing the map, checking Roadside America and plotting a route, we decided to make a visit to Vincennes, Indiana. As we were pulling out of Singing Hills, we realized that we had forgotten to take a picture of our campsite. Oh, well, maybe next time. We retraced our route to Cave City and picked up  I-64 to Bowling Green where we turned north to make our way into Indiana. We chose to cross the Ohio river at Owensboro which proved to be more difficult than expected. There were many one way streets and you could only access the bridge from four blocks south of the street we were on. This was another instance on this trip where the GPS didn't give us a lot of help. We finally crossed the river and had a relatively easy trip to Vincennes. We found the city campground along the Wabash River and picked a site as none of them were taken. After lunch, we drove around town to find out where things were located. We planned to stay in Vincennes for two nights, but a couple came by and told us the campground is no longer owned by the city. The university had purchased it and closed it for future building. There were no signs, so we chose to take our chances and spend the night. The next morning we drove out to Wabash Trails Campground. It was a long drive along a narrow road. Once we arrived at the park, the trail and day use areas were nice. However, the campground left a lot to be desired. The sites weren't level and some of them were very short with steep drop-offs at the rear. We drove back to Sol and decided to spend one more night. Well, a policeman and his friend were parked near Sol so we knew the gig was up. He informed us that he couldn't tell us to leave, only the campus police could do that. He told us about another campground on the way to the one we had just visited. We went back out the winding, narrow road to find this campground. It was nice except for the fact that is was right next to the railroad tracks! Bob and I made the decision to see one of the sights and then move out of the area. The policeman's friend was a local historian and he piqued our interest in George Rogers Clark.

We chose to visit George Rogers Clark National Park. It was located about 2 miles from the campground. The memorial sits on the site of Fort Sackville next to the Wabash River. The fort was instrumental in the winning of the northwest frontier during the American Revolution.
 This statue of George Rogers Clark stands in the center of the memorial.
 The stained glass in the ceiling of the rotunda has faded so much over the years that you can barely see the original design and color. There are plans to refurbish the glass sometime in the future.
There are panels around the interior of the memorial which depict the history of the area during the Revolutionary War.
 Outside, there is a walkway to the bridge over the Wabash River. The bridge signifies opening of the the northwest frontier when the battle was won.
 We enjoyed our trip to Vincennes, but we need to return to visit Red Skelton's museum, the Indiana Military Museum, William Harrison's Mansion, and several other sites. It was time to move Sol to an approved campground! And yes, once again we forgot to get a picture of our campsite.

Cave City, Kentucky

From Douglas Lake we set off in a westerly direction with the intention of traveling to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. To start our day, we drove west on I-40 to Lebanon, TN where we took US 231 north into Kentucky. The drive west from Knoxville was beautiful and took us down and out of the mountains. US 231 was a nice winding road that took us north to US31E where we turned off to get to I-65 and Cave City, Kentucky. Funny thing about this area of Kentucky---we had cell phone coverage, but no data so I couldn't check on the campground we wanted to visit. Bob wanted to feed Sol so we stopped near a fast food restaurant that had Wi-Fi and I was able to get the phone number of the campground to check for availability. The campground had one full hook-up site left, but only 30 amp electric. That was fine with us, so after a trip to the gas station, we drove the 2.5 miles to Singing Hills RV Park and Campground which is a member of Passport America. We had the site for 2 nights. After we got set up, it was time to relax, but wait, we couldn't fully get set because our kitchen slide wouldn't extend all the way! It would only go out about 3 inches and then stop. Out came the owner's manuals and we found the light in one of the bays that indicated a motor wasn't working properly. Bob messaged Winnebago to let them know they needed to add slide repair to our list of to-do's once we arrive in Forest City, Iowa. We can live comfortably in Sol without extending the kitchen slide so it is no big deal to wait for the repair.

The next morning Bob and I got an early start for our visit to Mammoth Cave National Park. Just inside the park boundary is a pond with a boardwalk and interpretive signs. Of course, there were also a couple of geocaches along the boardwalk so we stopped and found the caches.
Our next stop was the cave area. Since we have visited the cave on a previous trip (pre-blog), we opted to walk some of the trails around the park, hopefully before the rain arrived in the area. The first trail took us to the historic entrance to the cave which was the only visitor entrance until the 1920s.  Standing at the top of the stairs, we could feel the cool air coming out of the entrance.
As we neared the entrance, the air became even cooler. It actually felt good because it was a hot, humid day with thunderstorms in the forecast.
 The historic entrance is closed for renovations, but you can still see the interior of the cave through a barred window.

 Bob enjoyed the cool air as we retraced our steps to the top of the trail.
As we finished our hike and headed back to the car, we had to get a picture of the national park sign. We did find out that since our last visit in 1981, the boat tour has been discontinued to protect the unique creatures in Echo River.
We took the road less traveled to get back to our camp site. The route took us past an old church and some farmlands where we found a couple of geocaches. We got back to Sol just as the rain started. We spent the rest of the afternoon plotting our route to our next destination.