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Travels to Springfield, Illinois

Photo: A two-lane highway heads off in the distance under pink clouds.

I love to travel, and it's a good thing, too, because I need lots of practice in reporting on the various places I've visited. I always have ambitious plans of writing up wonderful posts as soon as I return, but somehow doing laundry takes priority. 

Last month, John and I traveled to Illinois and Missouri, and while that might not sound like an exciting, exotic vacation, I can tell you that it was delightful. 

While sitting in the airport awaiting our departure, I pulled my boarding pass up on my phone, and realized that my seat had changed. My first reaction was not happy, but when I realized that John's seat assignment had also changed, and we had been upgraded to Comfort Plus, I was quickly OK with the change. (Thank you, #Delta!) I had only ever flown coach, so to have a little more leg and seat room, priority boarding, a designated overhead bin, and better snacks (including fresh fruit!) was quite the treat. As we sat on the plane at the gate for at least a half-hour awaiting the arrival of a seat cushion, the roomier seats were much appreciated. We streamed General Conference and relaxed.

Photo: The view from my Comfort Plus seat of the large gap between seats in first class. 
We flew into St. Louis, Missouri and headed over to the car rental lot. As we were perusing the cars, the attendant told us we could have any car in a particular aisle, or "I could give you what you really want." He upgraded our vehicle at no charge. The vacation was up to a great (upgraded) start!

We did a good job of mixing up our activities over the next ten days, though as I look back on it, the overall theme was history: political history, judicial history, literary history, religious history, family history.

We drove to Springfield, Illinois, listening to the afternoon session of General Conference on the way. Though Wikipedia tells me that Springfield's population is 116,250 (or at least was in 2010), it seemed much smaller. It definitely gave off a small-town vibe. 

After checking into our hotel, we ate dinner at Cafe MOXO. John ate the chicken pot pie, because apparently that is a house signature dish. I had the "Momma Said," which was a sandwich with toasted focaccia, balsamic roasted portabella, tomato, and a spinach artichoke gratin. YUM! If you are ever in Springfield, this mom recommends the "Momma Said" at Cafe MOXO.

After dinner, we toured the Old State Capitol, where Abraham Lincoln lay in state after he died. Seventy-five thousand people filed into Representatives Hall to pay their respects. 

Photo: The semi-circular Representatives Hall in the Old State Capitol is set up with small wooden desks. 
There were lots of high school students dressed up and taking photos in and around the Old State Capitol building; I assume they had homecoming dances to attend. I also wondered a bit about whether I goofed as a parent; I never took my kids to a fancy building to take photos before a school dance. Sorry, kids!

Later that night, we drove to Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, a step back in time to where Lincoln lived prior to being elected to office. We just happened to be there for the yearly Candlelight Tour. Costumed docents were in each building, explaining to us who had lived there and what life was like then.  One living historian explained that Abraham Lincoln was elected the second time he ran for office in New Salem. The first time, people didn't really know him. The second time, he had racked up debt, but didn't skip town like others had. Instead, he stayed around and worked odd jobs to pay off what he owed. People then knew him to be honest, and elected him to office. 

Photo: A sign reads, "Berry-Lincoln" on the Berry-Lincoln store
The pathways were lighted only by candlelight. Musicians played on a porch; a blacksmith demonstrated his skill; gingerbread and hot cider were served. Walking where Lincoln walked, and seeing the settlement as it would have appeared in Lincoln's day, really brought history to life (even if some of the music played at the event wouldn't be written for about another 100 years or so.)

The next day, we visited a few more Lincoln sites before leaving Springfield. We started at Lincoln's home--the only home he ever owned. The tour guide explained that the house was constantly being improved and expanded. One time, after Lincoln had been away for a while, he went to a neighbor's house and asked him if he could point out Lincoln's home, because he (Lincoln) didn't recognize it after all the changes.  Apparently Mrs. Lincoln did not think that joke was very funny. 

Photo: Abraham Lincoln's two-story house, painted "Quaker brown" with dark green shutters
After Lincoln's home, we visited the Presidential Museum. One thing that impressed me was just how divided the nation was at the time of the 1860 presidential election. The electoral college votes were divided between four different candidates. The political climate now isn't great, but I can't imagine the division of the Civil War. 

Photo: A huge statue of a modern-day man standing next to Abraham Lincoln marks the entrance to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
We enjoyed our quick visit to Springfield, Illinois, but we had other places to see, so we headed northwest. Stay tuned to see where we went next!

Do you enjoy museums? What do you like to do on vacation?


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