Freitag, 3. Juni 2011

Springfield - St Louis - Springfield

I'd imagined our road trip involving alot of knitting while Ivo drove, but have been mistaken so far. This trip is work after all. We need to keep informed about the route and experience of our cycling predecessor and I can't read in the car, so the trip thus far has involved a lot of Ivo reading aloud from Dres' manuscript and me driving (quite slowly - mostly 35 mph) along the gorgeous flat lands of Illinois.
On our first day we stopped in Joliet and visited their museum. (This turned out to be quite helpful, as we realized afterwards that Dres had made the same choice.) The museum appears to be well funded and we enjoyed their wax-works, short film and displays about all of the many accomplishments of Joliet residents.
Although I'm not proud, the Joliet patriotism reminded me of the characters in "Waiting For Guffman" and I discovered that the film song "Stools!" was in my head as I slowly made my way to the exit.  I then had to stifle laughter as I spied a massive display honoring Dairy Queen "Someday I'd like to invent a low-fat - a non-fat Blizzard...." Parker Posie in Waiting for Guffman popped back in my mind and I asked the enthusiastic woman at the desk "What's with all the DQ stuff?"
"The first-ever Dairy Queen is from Joliet!"
Of course it is.
When we were getting into the car, I asked Ivo "You know how you thought that it was strange, that Lizzie-" ( a girl I nannied in Philadelphia) "-thought that George Washington invented colors and the alphabet?" Ivo laughed. "I bet kids in Joliet think that the alphabet and colors were invented in Joliet."

There is an incredible pride in all of the towns we've visited so far and I feel a bit guilty that I'm hearing the towns' names for the first time. I'm personally feeling a certain sense of patriotic pride as we drive through amazing landscapes and encounter incredibly kind people. (When we took a wrong turn and were set on the right course by a jogger, we hadn't turned off our hazard lights before a 13 year old boy on a bike stopped to ask if we needed any help.)

The road from Bloomington to Springfield Il was driven when it was too dark to read, so Ivo took the wheel and we popped Assassination Vacation into the CD player. The timing was ideal. We woke in Springfield with a Vowell inspired hunger for all things Lincoln. We set to the rainy Sprinfield streets and found the Lincoln Totem Pole replica that our research had never mentioned but that our audiobook had described.
We then went to the Lincoln museum and presidential Library. It is another well-funded museum and we watched their movie "Lincoln's Eyes" and quoted the line "sockdolagizing man-trap" along with the Ford's Theater actor. Remembering Vowell's inquiry of what sort of "manipulative" the old word "sockdolagizing" describes.
The rain let up and we made tracks for Lincoln's tomb, where we rubbed his nose for luck, chatted at length with a volunteer at the tomb, and shivered in the cold marble that houses Lincoln's final resting place.
The next piece of 66 was speckled with beautiful silos, many wind-farms and less road-kill than the first. We had lunch at an old "famous" cafe (with crazy sweet pies) and then left the "mother road" in Mt Olive to find the grave of Mother Jones. (It was incredible and I'll post pics later)
We arrived in St Louis in the afternoon, driving over the Mississippi, narrowly avoiding an accident on the highway (finally allowed to go more than 35 mph and we nearly hit some drivers making silly mistakes) and gaping at the awesome sight of a massive Croquet Wickett.
We met our friend Landon and he took us for a drive (in case we'd not spent enough time in a car). We drove through two of the many large parks the city boasts. We then drove through the dilapidated North portion of the city. We drove past the train station/shopping mall that was featured in Escape From New York, past the court house where the Dredd-Scott decision was made and on to the park that surrounds the Jefferson Gateway Arch.
We mustered our courage and rode the tram to the arch's observation deck. Incredible! After taking the quicker trip down the arch, the doors opened to reveal what I thought was part of the Lewis and Clark exhibit, but turned out to be vacationing Menonite families. We took a gander at the actual Lewis and Clark exhibition and then drove back to the south side for dinner with Landon's girlfriend Alison.
Today we're headed to a unique museum and then on to Springfield, MO. NPR is currently reporting a smoggy day in St Louis and a flooding Missouri river in Lincoln County. We'll use care as we travel, listening for storms and watching out for the communities that Alison (a local gal) finds unique to central Missouri.

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