Road Trip 2018: Stop 6

2018.07.08.035Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Stop 6: Peru, Illinois, July 6th – July 9th

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4 | Stop 5

I never intended to stop in Peru, but the project I was supposed to be working on had been delayed so I had some time to kill, plus the drive directly from Springfield to Sheboygan is nearly 350 miles & I just didn’t feel like doing that all in one go.  Peru was a nice halfway point with a big state park marked on the map, so I stopped for a few days & it turned out to be an incredibly beautiful area.  The campground I stayed at had some interesting patrons: a large Mongolian family who rented a large chunk of the place for the whole summer & set up a legit yurt village for weekend visits.  They must have worked hard setting it up, from little glimpses through open doors as I walked around the campground I could see that they were fully furnished with some really beautiful pieces.  I think yurt living might be fun, I’d like to try that someday.

Getting to Peru on Day 19 was a 160-mile drive up from Springfield.  I made a lunchtime stop in Washington, where I found not only one last Lincoln connection but also one to Father Jacques Marquette.  Marquette was a 17th-century French Jesuit missionary whom I’ve been partial to ever since my time on Mackinac Island, where there’s a statue of him in the middle of town.  He was quite a prolific traveler so I see references to him all over the Midwest.

On Day 20 I went to Starved Rock State Park, which is right on the Illinois River & has some incredible hiking along a cliff line with lots of waterfalls to visit.  I started off my day by climbing the park’s namesake rock, where legend has it that people of the Illinois tribe starved in their efforts to escape a battle with the Ottawa.  After a stop at the Visitor’s Center (where I found Father Marquette again) I headed out onto the red trail, which winds along the bottom of the cliff to several side canyons.  Wildcat Canyon has the largest waterfall in the park after a good rain.  In the afternoon I went for a tour of the Illinois & Michigan Canal on a boat pulled by a mule, which was something I didn’t even know I needed to cross off my to-do list.  I never realized how important canals were in the transit systems of the past.  The I&M runs 100 miles, all the way from Peru to Chicago.  I also definitely snuck my dog into a movie that day.  Looking to escape the heat, can’t leave her alone in the tent, certainly can’t leave her alone in the car, so I took her to see Ant-Man and the Wasp.  She’s tiny & ancient & deaf so she just slept on my lap & nobody even knew she was there.

On Day 21 I went to a different section of Starved Rock for a hike out to more waterfalls in Tonti & LaSalle Canyons.  It really is a beautiful park, I highly recommend it.

Next week: the end of the journey!

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Road Trip 2018: Stop 5

2018.07.05.002
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Stop 5: Springfield, Illinois, July 3rd – July 6th

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4

I heard you like Lincoln so I put some Lincoln on your Lincoln.

I mean I get why Springfield is totally obsessed with Abraham Lincoln but like…dang.

Day 16 was just getting to Springfield from Kentucky, about a 250-mile drive.

On Day 17 I went to 2 Lincoln-related things – the Presidential Museum & the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  The museum is AMAZING, they chronicle the lives of Lincoln, his family, & the people around them in such a vivid way that you can’t help but feel like you understand them all better as human beings & not just as historical figures that you read about in school.  The tour is a series of rooms with mannequins telling Lincoln’s life story with exhibits of other objects & events in between.  Apparently the 2 youngest Lincoln boys were total brats, there’s a whole room that just shows them destroying their dad’s office while he’s reading the newspaper without a care in the world.  Some displays are real tear-jerkers, like the one of a slave auction & another of Abraham at 12-year-old Willie Lincoln’s deathbed.  They’ve also got the most epic theater presentation EVER at the holographic “Ghosts of the Library” show – seriously, don’t miss it!  The Lincoln Home site preserves not only Abe’s house but his whole neighborhood.  There’s a guided tour through the house & then you’re free to wander through the surrounding couple of blocks for some displays in front of the neighbor’s houses.  Make sure your phone is charged, I missed out on at least one augmented reality experience because mine was too dead to download the app. 😦

On Day 18 I rounded off my tour of Abe’s life with a visit to the Lincoln family tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.  The inside of the tomb is beautiful & the whole Lincoln family rests there except the oldest son, Robert, the only one to live into his adulthood.  Poor Mary Todd Lincoln buried her husband & 3 of her 4 children.  I spent the afternoon at the only non-Lincoln related site of my visit to Springfield, the Washington Park Botanical Garden.  The grounds are beautiful & there’s a domed greenhouse to visit with lots of tropical plants.  They also have a carillon, a musical instrument that’s actually a tower with bells.  Sadly it only gets played a couple of time each week & none of them were when I was around to hear it.

Next Week: nature & history in Peru, Illinois!

 

Road Trip 2018: Stop 4

2018.07.02.005
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles

Stop 4: Paducah, Kentucky, June 30th – July 3rd

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 5

On Day 13 I left Nashville & made a quick drive into western Kentucky so that I could spend Day 14 exploring in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  Unfortunately by the time I got there I’d been on the road for two weeks in weather roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun so although it’s a huge park with lots of trails & stuff I was running out of energy for outdoor activities & didn’t stay long.  I’d like to go back though, maybe in the fall when it’s cooler & the leaves are turning.  The name is pretty literal – it’s a big weird peninsula trapped between two forks of a dammed river, so there’s lots of water for boating, kayaking, swimming, etc.  There’s also a wildlife lab zoo thing, drive-through bison safari, living history farm, a really nice museum at the visitor’s center, & some ruins of iron smelting furnaces.

On Day 15 I went wandering around in Paducah, where I found a tugboat with the same name as my dad, an art gallery, & a tree on the sidewalk where the roots somehow grew into a square (the square root, lol).  Then a short hop over the Ohio river to Metropolis, Illinois to take a picture with the Superman statue in the middle of town & walk across the street to the Super Museum, which is basically a warehouse jammed floor to ceiling with some guy’s Superman obsession.  If you’re around in early June they have a Superman Celebration every year!

Next Week: all of the Abraham Lincoln in Springfield!