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Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Covered Bridges

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn and I got up for a day of Indiana countryside sightseeing.  We decided we were going to check out several covered bridges, as this tri-county area around Dana, Indiana is known for having many of them.  Unfortunately, the very first bridge we went to, at the Ernie Pyle Memorial Rest Park, we came upon a tragic scene.  I won’t revisit it here, because I blogged about it last year.

That day we visited a number of bridges, historic cemeteries, murals and the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.  I’m going to divide the posts up by subject, and group the photos together.

Once we steeled our nerves again from our morning, we saw several more covered bridges.  They are gorgeous, each painted red with white accents, each with the same neat, black lettering indicating the year it was built, along with name of the bridge and sometimes the builder.  The earliest bridge we saw was built in 1873, and the most recent was built in 2006.  I suppose now they are probably maintained by the county, or a historical society, but it still seemed odd that they are all painted the same.

They are scattered all around, with some of the bridges off to the side of the road, and others still part of the road so you could drive through them.  One is close to an old historic mill that has been redeveloped – it is quite picturesque!  I got to see quite a bit of the countryside, the Amish homes, and even a few Amish buggies.

The history here is incredible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quiet Friday Nights

It has been raining off and on for a week, including a pretty incredible thunder and lightning storm last Saturday night.  The rain is supposed to continue off and on for several more days.  It will make for a good weekend to do some house organizing, have some quiet time, and go antiquing with my mom.

It has been nice to have a few quieter weekends at home, after a summer spent jet-setting around the country (I exaggerate, but I was in Oregon, Washington, D.C., and California this summer, in addition to some weekend trips around Washington).

My Facebook memories are also making me so nostalgic for my time on the road.  Last year at this time I was in Washington, D.C., although I was a bit behind at the time in posting photos and still working on posting New York state pics.

I have not been able to blog very quickly about my trip, given that I did so much, and want to give each place the attention it deserves.  The trip posts will likely be going on for a couple of years, and I’m making peace with that.  My plan now is to intersperse my more recent short trips with the posts on my longer trip.  That way I can stay caught up on what’s currently happening in my life.  Sound like a plan?

That’s what’s on my agenda – how about yours?

Circus Trip 2018: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library

Day 22, Monday, August 6, 2018

Springfield is home to the Lincoln Museum and Library, a fascinating place!  The museum has many interactive exhibits, which are fun for the whole family.

When you first go into the museum, there is a performance in the museum’s theater.  It is probably best described as a play, but features a live actor interacting with holograms as the other characters!  It takes place in the museum’s library and shows the viewer several items of historical significance to Lincoln’s life.  The technology also allows the live actor to fade out of the scene, and they literally disappear in front of the viewer’s eyes!  If you go, make sure you check this out!

The Lincoln Museum also has a number of exhibits.  I really enjoyed the live actor who discussed Lincoln’s draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and the events leading up to it.  The actor portrayed Francis Carpenter, the actor who painted the portrait of Lincoln and his cabinet members.  He was very well informed, and coherently expressed the arguments for and against issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.  I watched for quite a while and was impressed by his level of knowledge.

Another favorite of mine was the map that moves through the Civil War time period, showing the movement of battles throughout the country, the territory held by the Union and the Confederacy, and tallying up the toll of casualties.  The map moves at a consistent pace, so you can see how some periods of the war were much more active and deadly than others.  It is punctuated with significant events of the war – it was very well done!

There are also exhibits of Lincoln artifacts, as well as an interesting exhibit on the cartoons that ran in the media outlets during his presidential campaigns and presidency.  If you think the media is ruthless and not neutral now, well, it wasn’t any different back then.

And last, but certainly not least, the Lincoln artifacts.  The museum displays a number of items that once belonged to Lincoln and his family members, including letters Lincoln wrote, jewelry he gave to Mary, and various memorabilia associated with the family.  There are also Lincoln items of historical significance, like sculptures and photographs of Lincoln throughout his life.  It is powerful to be so close to these articles that Lincoln once held in his own hands and see items that are 160 years old.

Across the street from the Lincoln Museum is an additional exhibit in the historic train station.  The exhibit when I visited was the movie Lincoln.  They had costumes and props that were used in the movie.  They also showed photos of the original clothing that the costumes were based upon.  Sally Field bears a resemblance to Mary Lincoln, especially when she was made up and costumed for her role in the movie, and it shows in the photos of the two that were displayed side by side.  They did a great job in the movie making things historically accurate, and it was interesting to see some of the props up close.

After I left the Lincoln Museum, I continued my journey east and arrived in Indiana.  I was going to be staying two nights in Dana, Indiana, with Marilyn, my brother’s mother-in-law.  It would be nice to be sleeping in a real bed, in a real house!

I got to Dana around dinner time, and Marilyn and I went out for dinner at a brewery in Terra Haute.  It was nice to be a passenger in a car and not have to drive!

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln’s Home

Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018

Lincoln lived and worked in Springfield, Illinois for 17 years.  It is where he established his law practice with William Herndon, and where he purchased his only home.  The home he owned, and several of the neighboring homes, have been preserved as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Sign posing…

When Lincoln first purchased the home, it was a one and a half story cottage, with three rooms on the first floor and three sleeping lofts above.  Even though the home was only five years old when he bought it, Lincoln did extensive renovations, raising the roof to make a full second story, adding an addition on the back, and probably removing a large columned front porch.

After Lincoln’s death, the home was rented to a series of tenants, who began charging visitors to take a tour of the home.  This, and the fact that they did not leave the home in good condition, prompted Robert Lincoln to donate the home to the state of Illinois in 1887, with the stipulation that the home be available to the public at no charge. The home was restored to the period when Lincoln last lived in the home – 1861, so the home looks today like it did in the photographs taken at the time.

Ownership transferred to the National Park Service and it became a National Historic Site on August 18, 1971.  The site preserves the home and other period structures within a four block area around the home.

 

You have to sign up for a tour in order to see the home, but as agreed, it is free of charge.  The rangers take you through both levels of the home, from the public living areas to Lincoln’s and the children’s bedrooms.  The rugs and wallpapers are so loud and busy!  Most of the furniture is not original to the Lincoln’s time but is period.  However, Lincoln’s writing desk is the one he used, and it is humbling to see.  This is the desk where he wrote letters, studied and did his legal work at home.

 

I visited Lincoln’s Home once before, over 10 years ago, and really enjoyed the tour.  It was no less incredible this time around.  The rangers are great about telling the story of the home and answering questions.  The tour moves fairly quickly, because Lincoln’s Home is always a popular tourist attraction, so depending on the size of the group and the time of day you may feel a bit rushed.

A neighborhood home

 

Homes in the neighborhood

Be sure to take some time to wander the neighborhood as well; there are several other historic homes that have been preserved as a part of this historic site, and some interesting exhibits.

If you love Lincoln, you have to visit!

This is 44

Yesterday was my 44th birthday.  It was uneventful and quiet.  I went to work, and received very little birthday attention.  My two employees got me a card and a little succulent plant, and our payroll person wished me a happy birthday in a mostly empty lunchroom.  I like it that way.

After work, mom and I went out to sushi dinner, and although I fully intended on taking a birthday selfie with her, I forgot.  Sigh…  Dinner was delicious, and I tried a soft shell crab appetizer for the first time.  You even eat the shell!  Verdict – it was fine, but not amazing.  My cherry blossom roll was delicious – and mom even tried a bite of it – with raw fish!  She said it was fine, but not amazing…

Today I spent some time with some girlfriends. We went to the local Greek Festival, then a brewery, and poked around in an antique shop and a consignment shop.  I bought an antique book about Alexander Hamilton, and a one pound bag of assorted coins.  We each took turns picking a coin until we had chosen them all – it was fun!

43 was a year with a lot of ups and downs.  I started it in Maine, on my road trip, spending my birthday hiking Acadia National Park, and eating whole lobster and lobster rolls right on the coast, looking out over the water.  It’s hard to beat that.

Relaxing

I found love again, and found hope that I wouldn’t always be on my own.

I came home from my trip and got ready to get back into my career after my time away.

I lost my favorite boss and long-time mentor right before Christmas.

I lost my father in February.  I have had a new set of firsts to experience – first time visiting Dad at the cemetery, first Father’s Day, first birthday without him at my birthday dinner.  Those milestones are hard.

I found a new job which I enjoy.

My spring and summer have been spent working, with a few long weekend getaways mixed in.  It isn’t enough travel, but for now it will have to do.  I watch that vacation balance like a hawk, and in the meantime just try to put away as much money as I can for my early retirement.

I’ve got plans.  This life has a way of changing those plans from time to time, but I will keep doing what I can to get to where I want to be.  44 will be a good year!

 

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Lincoln’s Tomb

Day 21, Sunday, August 5, 2018

On this trip, I was really looking forward to seeing the place where Lincoln is buried.  On my visit to Springfield several years ago, I didn’t have enough time to make it there, so it has been on my list for a while!

Lincoln, as you know, was assassinated in Washington, D.C. in April 1865.  His last wishes, however, were to be buried in Springfield, which had been his home for 17 years, and was the only place where he and Mary ever owned a home.  Lincoln and his son Willie, who had died in the White House, were both carried home from Washington, D.C. by train, and Lincoln’s body laid in state in various locations along the way.

The train carrying Lincoln departed Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 21, 1865 and largely traveled the route that Lincoln had traveled to Washington as President-elect in 1861.  The train never traveled faster than 20 mph on the journey, and hundreds of thousands of people watched the train pass by, and waited in the lines to see him lying in state.  He passed through 444 communities in seven states on his way to Springfield.

When he got back to Springfield, Lincoln, and his two sons Willie and Eddie, who died before him, were interred in the vault.  Mary and his son Tad were buried there later.  Robert, Lincoln’s oldest son, is the only member of the immediate family who is not buried in Springfield; he long outlived the rest of the family and chose to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Lincoln’s monument took several years to build, in the meantime Lincoln’s crypt was an above ground crypt that was not particularly secure; an attempt to steal his body in exchange for the release from prison of a counterfeiter was very nearly successful.  After the body snatching attempt, security at the crypt was beefed up (not for a while though) and Lincoln’s coffin was eventually encased in concrete ten feet under the ground.

Outside the monument is a bronze bust of Lincoln – be sure to rub his nose for good luck.  And please don’t ask why you are supposed to rub Lincoln’s nose for good luck, as he was one of our unluckiest Presidents – maybe we shouldn’t explore that too deeply.

Then step inside the tomb – there is a ranger inside who can answer questions and explain the details of Lincoln’s tomb.  They have a passport stamp too – although it is not officially a National Parks site.

Once inside, you go into a hallway at the base of the monument; it goes around to the back of the monument where Lincoln’s crypt is.  Lincoln has a beautiful marble crypt, but remember that he is not inside.  Rather, he is about ten feet below.  Mary and their sons are in wall niches on the opposite wall.  The vault room is simple and somber, and it was truly a humbling experience to be where this great man is buried.

Happy Belated National Park Service!

Yesterday was the 103rd birthday of the National Park Service!  However, I’m sick and spent most of the day sleeping, and did not have the energy to post anything commemorating it.

So, National Park Service, I’m sure you won’t mind a little belated birthday montage of some of my favorite photos taken within your boundaries.

I promise I’ll do better next year!