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Team OYB Road Trip 1: Michigan > St. Louis > Michigan

May 24, 2010

Over the Easter holiday -- and our school's spring break -- our family piled into the in-law's minivan and drove from Michigan to St. Louis and back by way of a couple detours.

Our ancient dog Daisy (GWP, German Wirehaired Pointer, a noble breed) was too decrepit, at age 15, to burden anyone with caring for her yet she was in good spirits, so...she came along for the ride in her capacious poof-bed in the back of the minivan. We packed light to give her room. She had walks and sniffs outdoors every couple hours.

Here are a few of the sights along the way...

To make an easy drive of it we decided to overnight halfway down in Springfield, Illinois, and spend a day taking in the Lincolniana. We'd never been before.

Springfield is located on ye olde Route 66 and has a neat memorabilia shop/museum inside a still-alive volcano of a corn-dog stand, the Cozy Dog Drive-in. This place was owned by Ed Waldmire, a guy who ended up retiring and driving around in a decorated RV. His hippy son, Bob, ended up owning the place after him then he too ended up driving around in a decorated VW bus. www.cozydogdrivein.com/. The restaurant is now also a shrine to the library of Ed. Son Bob was an artist who was a big fan of Route 66 and illustrated and annotated maps of several states that it passed through. www.bobwaldmire.com/. His maps are available as posters at the restaurant for $5. They are microscopically detailed with points of interest and history.

I was uncertain about the Lincoln museum as it is of recent construction and seems built a bit like a shopping mall in structure. The whole historic experience turned out to be just fine. The key that holds it all together is, of course, the whole point of the place as well: it's a very detailed museum and it's all about one guy. So we walk through that part of the 1800's as seen through one man, one family's eyes. Those eyes took in the major events of our nation at that time. They're a great way to see history. So be sure, if you're in town, to check out the museum, the neighborhood of the family home, and the cemetery monument. It all fits together. And it's a unique experience in that the whole thing is really so tragic. Lincoln was disliked and had few friends during his presidency. His every decision was hugely questioned and disliked on several sides. Then there were his family tragedies. 3 of his 4 children died young. His mother died young. His first sweetheart died young. The sadness is palpable in the museum yet so too are the compensations of the sacrifice which he scarcely got to know. He certainly gave full measure for us. Amazing. Doing the right thing ain't easy. There's an overt lesson staring right at us of this in the life of Lincoln.

I was also struck by a silly thing in realizing the extent to which the horse was a part of everyone's everyday life back then. Even fancy ladies would be closely around horses likely every day. Just think of it. Lincoln RODE a court circuit for 6 months each year. Riding a horse to travel. With his letters in his tall hat -- his desk on the road. A museum experience like this lets such things strike us. The town center of Springfield is in some ways very similar to what it was. We visited his office and looked out the windows. The main difference is no mud and no horses.

It was cute to learn that he famously didn't correct his children. Perhaps he missed them after months away. They'd come to his office and cause a ruckus which he disregarded, to his partner's frets. Another foible that was neat to learn about was that every day he'd come to work, lay down on a sofa and read the daily paper. Out loud. It drove his partner nuts. When he got cases, he heard them out, and when his clients left he'd lay down on the sofa again, ponder, then jump up and into action. Neat details of an astounding, sacrificial life.

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