Illinois to Michigan
Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
37Trip End Jul 03, 2009
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Friday, June 26th
First, a few forgotten comments from Nebraska on east:
How do you know you are in a small town? Guy in pickup truck stops his truck in the dead center of the street to go into the post office (Paradise, NE)
How do you know you are in the mid-west? They mow and bale the hay in the middle strip of the highway.
We also saw big fields of mowed hay being baled by fleets of white pickup trucks, each one with a small baler
Missouri county roads have letters not numbers - F or GG - so you see signs like "MM next left" or "Jct D and HH"
OK back on the road......
We had a wonderful day around Springfield, Illinois. After lingering at the really lovely campground, we went into town and walked around downtown (Lincoln statues, visitors' center, photo exhibit of Lincoln statues from all over in the Lincoln Library) - then spent awhile in the renovated 4 block area of his home there - quite a few old homes (mid-1800s) and beautifully landscaped grounds, maintained by the Park Service, right in the middle of the city. It was in the 90's again and we had to bring the dogs along since we obviously couldn't leave them in the truck - we sought out shade trees on grassy plots and took turns going inside places.
Then we visited Lincoln's grave at the city cemetery - that was really moving - I wasn't expecting to be so moved by it - just being there in that presence.
After that we drove about 20 miles southwest to New Salem - an historically accurate reconstruction of a village Abe lived in when he was a young man - he worked there as a surveyor, wood splitter, and store owner. It is staffed with people in costume, like Sturbridge Village. Very well done, empty because of the heat, and shady as well, with dogs welcome on leashes. We liked it a lot. Spent the night not far away but a little further north and east.
Yesterday was a drive further east and into Indiana then north. Mostly driving. Not quite so hot (only 93!!) - lots of corn, very flat, excellent ice cream at The Flagpole in Rochester, Indiana, lunch in a park in Frankfort, detoured off around one of those mile square cornfields with farms (ended up doing a few squares), HUGE farm vehicles (very high, I think they spread fertilizer), mostly John Deere tractors, some irrigation (actually saw some spouting water - all this trip we had only seen idle irrigation equipment) - little towns, some prosperous, many less so, back to the Amish buggies in northern Indiana around the pretty town of Middlebury, and on up to Michigan!
We camped last night at a fun but crowded campground on Gun Lake (where Al Capone had a summer place - although named Gun Lake before HIS time) - jam packed mostly RVs, mostly multi-generational families - what I imagine old-time camp meetings were like, in terms of festive spirit
On up to Traverse City today to visit Jock and Sue Denio - John's family - Jock is in his late 80's and I used to hike with him at camp when I was 12 and we can't wait to see them. The next 6 nights we will be with friends or family, and then will be almost home....
Sunday, June 28th
After a drive up through cherry country and a short walk on a piece of a new hiking trail that goes from New York to North Dakota, we had a good visit with Sue and Jock (John's brother-in-law) at their home on the shore of Lake Michigan (literally) near Traverse City
Yesterday we just covered ground to get back south to Ann Arbor. Bianca and Dave had a gathering to go to for supper, so John and I went out for pizza (which I have been craving) over near the university - then met up back at their lovely house - lots of familiar photographs, my grandmother's dining room table, and various things from the family. Jack is SO verbal compared to last summer (he'll be three in July) and Bianca is looking quite pregnant! Dave has done a lot of work on the yard and gardens and it is looking good. Beautiful day today. Bianca took us on a tour of Ann Arbor, including lunch at Zingerman's deli (classic Ann Arbor) and drive-by's of Lydia and Jonathan's house, Lydia's school, their church, Jack's pre-school, downtown, U of M - dogs in the backyard, Dave finishing up a garden gate, playing trains with Jack. Nice to be here for a two-plus day break. We love Ann Arbor - I could easily be happy living here (especially with my family here!)