2018-10-13. Springfield, IL
On our way across, Missouri to Illinois, we ran into flood-related road closures along US 36 where the Grand River overflowed its banks and the berms protecting the fields and the road and spread across two lanes of this four lane road. We have never seen this in the fifteen years we have traveled the country and it was certainly sobering, The Mississippi River was also over its banks and flowing urgently downstream. Fields filled with soybeans awaiting harvest were drowned by the flood waters and roadside signs delivered their messages in newly formed lakes.
We stopped in Springfield, IL, the Illinois capital city and stayed two nights in the state fairground complex. This was the nicest state fairground we have stayed in and we have been in many. There are 300 sites serviced by electric and water. Most of the sites would not have been good for us as they were not level and too small and located on every inch of grass at weird angles. However, there were about 75 back-in sites in a paved parking lot that were perfect for us with water and 50 amp service. Thirty of the sites were marked "handicapped" and had full hook ups but the fairground host told us that these spots were available for our use any time other than during the August state fair. But for an overnight or two, this was a great location. It was within 3 miles of the downtown historic district and Springfield itself is an extremely accessible city. It is a city of only about 150,000 and even at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday, the traffic was not bad; not as bad as Doylestown is at the same time. Springfield has a lot to offer the tourist with most activities centered on Abraham Lincoln's legacy. His tomb is here near the fairgrounds and the Presidential Museum/Library is a vey well done site with film presentations that were interesting and thought provoking focusing not on the legend of Lincoln but life "from his eyes". One of the neatest presentations was a Civil War map that fast-forwarded through the war in 4 minutes showing the changes in the north/south boundaries as each battle's name was flashed onto the screen at its location and the tally of the dead on each side kept mounting and mounting throughout the four minutes. Really well done and encapsulated in a short period the impact of the war on both sides. Another really cool thing was seeing the only remaining photograph taken of Lincoln laying in state in his casket. The original plates, except one, were all destroyed by Secretary of War, Stanton, because Mary Lincoln believed them to be disrespectful. But, Stanton kept one of the photographs and locked it away, apparently because of his great love for Lincoln. It stayed locked away until 1952 when it was discovered by accident by a young intern going through Stanton's papers. Fascinating. We are generally not "museum people" but this was definitely worth the visit.
Lincoln's tomb was also interesting with docents delivering informative presentations. Outside of the tomb was a brass bust of Lincoln and it is apparently good luck to rub his nose, so...we did. Inside, the original bronze model for the Washington DC Lincoln Memorial guards the entryway to the tomb and the details about it and what the sculptor meant to portray were also fascinating and I will never see the Lincoln Memorial in quite the same way.
Naturally, if you are visiting a new place, you have to try all of specialty foods and so, we sacrificed our bodies to bring a report to you. Let's see....there's the Steak and Shake franchise started here in Springfield. Then, there are the Melo-O-Cream donuts available in every conceivable variety including peanutbutter filled, and last but not least, that artery-clogging delight called a "horseshoe". Originally, the meat was cut in the shape of a horseshoe, hence the name. The sandwich consists of two pieces of grilled Texas Toast, covered with your choice of meat (Bob had hamburger and I had ham), then covered with french fries and all of this smothered in a lucious, thick cheese sauce. Delectable and horrifying at the same time! Needless to say, as I write this, the leftover horseshoes reside in the refrigerator and the remaining donuts are secreted in their box in the shower. P.S. Roadie's review of the horseshoes was also quite favorable.