Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Mini Epic Road Trip 2016: Springfield (IL)

Day 3- Springfield (IL): Our mini epic road trip continued on day 3 as we left St. Louis and crossed over the Mississippi River into Illinois. The state sign welcoming us to Illinois was up high in the middle of the highway, so we couldn't stop to take a picture. That's just rude Illinois.

Speaking of state signs, I totally forgot to most my state sign last time for Missouri, so here it is! :)

We were on our way to Springfield (IL), which is where Abraham Lincoln's home and presidential library and museum are all located. Fun fact. The Lincoln library isn't listed on the National Archives Presidential Libraries and Museums website because that site only list presidents from the 20th century and beyond. A little rude if you ask me, pre-20th century presidents are just as important, but whatever. The Lincoln museum was my eighth presidential museum, I have twelve more to go.

Anyway, on our way to Springfield, we saw a sign about the historic Route 66, so we took a quick detour. Yes, we took a 10 minute detour just for a picture, that is how we roll. :) 

Just a girl along Route 66

Our first stop in Springfield was at the Lincoln Home National Site. This was the only house that Abraham Lincoln ever owned. He and his wife moved into it in 1844 and lived there until their move to Washington, DC when he became president in 1860. They had intentions of moving back there after his presidency, but, of course, that sadly didn't happen.

Lincoln's son Robert donated the home to the state of Illinois in 1887 under the condition that it would be forever well maintained and open to the public free of charge. It is free to see the home (but you do have to pay for parking. I think it was $2 per hour). We spent about two hours there. In order to see the inside of the home, you have to get a "ticket" from the front office and a park ranger will give you a guided tour of the home. Tours leave about every 10-15 minutes. Our ranger was Ranger Rosie and she was great!

Lincoln's house
A lot of the furniture wasn't original to the home, but it was authentic furniture from that time period. The mirror in the bottom left corner was original to the house though. It's kinda cool to think that Abraham Lincoln once looked in that very mirror.
Going up the staircase of Lincoln's home (yes I took a picture of my hand on it, stop judging me). This is the original banister. The history nerd in me thought of all the times Lincoln used that very banister to go up and down the stairs of his home. He walked down that same staircase when he left for Washington DC, unaware that he would never return to his beloved home.
Just chilling on Lincoln's back porch
This was a step used when people got in and out of carriages back in the 1800's. Ignore my pale leg.
Funny story. Well, it was funny to me. At one point during our tour, Ranger Rosie looked at me and said, "Don't worry, Dean and Sam have already been here and there are no ghosts." That's a reference to the show Supernatural (which is what my shirt is in reference to). It made me laugh. Supernatural fans unite. Lol.
This is a reproduction life casting of Lincoln's head and hands, based on a plaster casting made in 1860. So here I am giving Lincoln a fist bump.

After our tour of the home, we went to pay our respects at Lincoln's grave site. It's about a 15-20 minute drive from his house.

Don't ask me why, but evidently you are supposed to rub the nose on this statue for good luck. So I did. I can use all the good luck I can get right now.

We finally made our way to the museum by late afternoon. It closes at 5pm and we got there a little before three, so it gave us roughly about two hours. We still saw the whole museum, but I could have easily stayed another hour or so reading every part of the exhibits. There was a short film when you first enter the exhibit area that is a must see. Here is a YouTube video I found about it (but seeing it in person is so much better).

This museum was amazing. When I first walked in, I didn't think it looked that big, but it went further back than I realized. If you are ever in Springfield, IL, this is a MUST SEE. Even if you aren't that much of a history nerd, you will enjoy it. I can't embed the video, but click here for a little bit more about the museum.
My 8th presidential museum and library

Lincoln's shaving mirror
Lincoln was known for his stovepipe top hats. There are only three of his hats still in existence today. This hat is one of those three. This was in an area of the museum that said no photography. I was possibly holding my phone and accidentally hit the side button that takes a photo. It was an accident. You have no proof it wasn't.
They have life size statues to take pictures with!
We walked around downtown Springfield after the museum closed. We saw the building where Lincoln's law office was located (the sign is still there). Evidently you can usually tour the inside of it, but it was closed for renovations. We also went by the train station where Lincoln said farewell to the city of Springfield as he left for Washington, DC. Oh, we even ran into Lincoln himself!! Okay, we ran into a local actor who portrays Lincoln at all their historical events. He also plays Lincoln in the video we watched at the Lincoln Home National Site. Super cute town. Wish we had more time to explore. I'm sure there are many places we missed. 
A group selfie with Lincoln 
Honest Abe himself!
Yes I touched the door. Quit judging me for wanting to touch history. Lol.
Before we left, we went by the Illinois state capitol. When we were in Little Rock, we went by the state capitol there, so we decided to see the state capitol in each state we visited this trip (see first part of my recap here). Day 2 of our trip can be found here.
It was closed so we couldn't go inside. It was pretty outside though!
We left Springfield to drive to Hannibal (where we would spend day 4). As we were leaving Illinois, we saw a welcome side on the other side of the highway, so we turned around to get a picture by the Illinois sign. Yes, we are nerds. Although I'm sure Aaron would like me to say that Mel and I were the nerds and he was just along for the ride. Lol.
Taken as I was leaving Illinois, but oh well, still got my state sign picture. :)
I promise to get day 4 posted soon! I've been working a lot of overtime. Sorry I missed my What I'm Loving Wednesday yesterday! Thanks to my faithful participants who had WILW posts anyway!! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Mini Epic Road Trip 2016: St. Louis

A few weeks ago I started to recap #AMERT2016 (A Mini Epic Road Trip), but in the past few weeks, I've been distracted or lazy and haven't finished it. I'm determined now. :)

For the recap of Day 1, click here.

I was gonna put the rest of my pictures into one post just to get it over with, but man, that would be a lot of pictures, so I'm breaking it up into a few more posts. You are welcome for that by the way. :)

Day 2- St. Louis: Mel, Aaron, and I were in St. Louis for day two. We only had a day to spend there, so we did as much as possible. I have to go back because there is so much I didn't get to see.

Of course we had to go to the Gateway Arch. This was a big deal for me because I don't really like heights and I'm a little claustrophobic, but I'm so glad I did it. If you go, I recommend that you watch the movie about the construction of The Arch (it's in the theater near the gift shop). It was neat! Also, GET THERE EARLY! It opens at 8:30a and we got there about 8:40ish. There was hardly anyone in line. We honestly only spent about 20 minutes at the top of the Arch (you can only look out for so long), and when we got back down, the line was SUPER LONG. And this was on a Thursday. Also, tickets are time stamped, so get them in advance if you can. It will save you the hassle and time later on!

This is what you ride to the top of the Arch in. Doesn't it look like some kind of pod from a Sci-Fi movie?
It was quite cozy inside of the pod...
A slightly nervous Rachel at the top of the Arch...
Feeling brave enough to look out
The view was nice
Touching the top of the Arch
I made it!
One more Arch picture
Just a short walk from The Arch was the Old Courthouse. This is where Dred Scott trials took place back in the 1800s. 

Normally you are not allowed to go totally inside the courtroom, they have a barrier stopping you at the door so you can only get pictures from there. When we were at this particular courtroom, a special tour came in and the park ranger giving the tour let us in with them. It was cool to sit in chairs and think about all the trials that were once held there. I'm such a history nerd.

After our tour of the Old Courthouse we decided to walk the short 18 blocks to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. It started raining pretty hard (and of course my shirt was white), so we waited under an awning to catch a bus that took us to the Hard Rock Cafe. I'm now the proud owner of a Hard Rock Cafe umbrella (since it was still raining when we left).

Picture stolen from Mel's Facebook page. You can see me struggling to get my new umbrella open. Lol.
Aaron wanted to tour the Budweiser brewery so we took a bus ride over to that part of town (it was NOT within walking distance). I'm not a beer drinker, but I enjoyed seeing the Clydesdale horses. :) There are different tours you can take. We took the free tour, which was about 45 minutes long and gave you a pretty good tour. For you beer drinkers, you get two free samples of beer on that tour. If you don't drink beer, you can trade in your beer token for a free soda or bottle of water.

We decided to get the souvenir picture they took at the beginning of the tour. :)

I actually saw some of the Clydesdale horses back in 2004 at the State Fair of Texas. Good grief I was so skinny. And blonde. Ah, the good ol' days...
That evening we went to a Cardinals baseball game (which was honestly what started this whole road trip to begin with). Since I'm trying to see all the MLB ballparks, I had to cross Busch Stadium off my list eventually (as painful as it was for my Texas Rangers heart). If you have to ask why, then just don't ask.

I will not confirm or deny that I spit on the sidewalk

A view from our seats
It seems I can only get Mel to a baseball game when we are on a road trip! :) 
A new spit cup for my sunflower seeds
I made friends with the guys sitting next to us- they were Royals fans. They were happy with the outcome of this game
This was on all of the rows

We left the car parked at our hotel and walked or took public transportation while we were in St. Louis. Aaron was tracking our steps, we took approximately 23,890 steps that day. Yes, my feet were sore by the end of the day. 

After this trip, I was able to update my 101 in 1001 list (which I've been HORRIBLE about- next time I need to do a better job with my list):

4. Attend games at five MLB ballparks I've never been to before (4/5)
This was my fourth one since I started this challenge.