2011 May

May has been a VERY relaxing, lazy month for us, to say the least!  Those of you who follow our blog regularly are probably wondering why almost the whole month has gone by and no new posts!?  Well, because of the rising gas prices and still trying to recover financially from our California trip in March-April, we decided to find a nice campground and just chill for a while.  After our most recent leg of Route 66 through Springfield and Pontiac, Illinois (the rest of the Route to Chicago will have to wait) we found this GREAT place in northern Illinois – Woodhaven Lakes.  Covering more than 1700 acres it is the largest campground in the US, and functions much like a little city.  It is a delightful combination of  forest, grassland, and lakes.  We stayed a week, then added a week, then decided to stay through Memorial weekend.  So, as time permits, between our bike rides, hikes, daily walks, working out in the gym, lounging on our patio, people-watching, etc, etc, Roberta promises to get the blog up to date…

May 1-4

After leaving Peoria (2 days after the Riverboat Cruise) we headed for Springfield, Illinois to visit some friends  who had re-located there from California a few years ago and to “Look for Lincoln”.   We have discovered during our time in Illinois that there is a HUGE movement in the state to stimulate tourism by associating every possible location with some aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life.  So almost everywhere you go in the state you’ll see a “Looking for Lincoln” sign with some cute little fact about him such as “Lincoln walked over this bridge on his way to blah, blah, blah.”

Roberta discovered some interesting facts about the city of  Lincoln – like, it is the only city in Illinois named after Abe – so we stopped there to see the famous “watermelon statue”.  When the first lots were sold there in August 1853 Abe was asked to “christen” the town and he had used a  watermelon to do so, hence the statue.  When learning that the town was to be named after him he ( supposedly) also quipped “Nothing with the name of Lincoln ever amounted to much.”  As it turned out, he returned to speak here on his way to Chicago in November 1853 as president-elect and his funeral train stopped here on May 3, 1865 before completing the trip to Springfield.

 IL - Lincoln 003 Watermelon

The Watermelon Statue

(See the “Looking for Lincoln” logo on the sign?)

IL - Postville Courthouse 3We happened on this historic site by accident – the Postville Courthouse

IL - Postville Courthouse 5Dave looks at some artifacts in the courtroom where Lincoln once stood.

IL, Lincoln Route 66 Chapel 2Route 66 Chapel we found on the way to Springfield.

May 7-8

We arrived in Springfield and our friends  let us park in their driveway the whole week, and loaned us one of their cars to do some site-seeing, too.  Thanks Alan & Shelly!!

Alan took us first to see Lincoln’s Tomb, but it was pouring rain when we got there so it was a quick trip out of the car and back.  In front of the tomb is a bust of Lincoln.  It is supposed to be good luck to rub his nose, so the nose has been rubbed to a shiny gold!

IL - Springfield 1 Lincoln TombDave rubs Abe’s nose for luck as Alan looks on.

We decided the next attraction we visited would be the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  It is not an “official” presidential library/museum like the others we have visited, but it was great, nevertheless.  The only picture-taking allowed is in the rotunda of the museum, but the pics we got there are great!

IL - Springfield 9 Lincoln Presidential MuseumEntrance to the Museum

IL - Springfield 15 Lincoln Presidential MuseumReproduction of the Kentucky log cabin where Abe was born and lived until the age of 7 when his family moved to Indiana.

IL - Springfield 17 Lincoln Presidential MuseumDave and Roberta posed with the Lincoln family for this photo!

IL - Springfield 18 Lincoln Presidential MuseumFrederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth

IL - Springfield 19 Lincoln Presidential MuseumJohn Wilkes Booth

IL - Springfield 20 Lincoln Presidential MuseumGrant conversing with his lieutenant

After leaving the museum we walked around the downtown area for awhile.

IL - Springfield 31We stopped in an antique store to look around.  This robot caught our eye and the owner told us that it was built especially for him by Mike and Frank of the American Pickers TV show.

IL - Springfield 34The old State Capitol building

IL - Springfield 38Abe and Mary Lincoln and sons (only the younger son is visible in this picture, waving goodbye to his older brother as he leaves for school)

IL - Springfield 39Abe’s first law office in Springfield

One of the highlights we were anxious to see in Springfield was the Dana-Thomas home that was designed and built by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  Unfortunately the house was being renovated, so we could only see the outside!

IL - Springfield 44 Dana Thomas HouseDana-Thomas House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

IL - Springfield 48  Capitol Silver DomeClose-up of the silver dome of the current state capitol building

Springfield residents like to say that their state capitol took “second place” because the dome on the Wisconsin state capitol is gold and the Indiana capitol dome is bronze!

Next we made a trip to Lincoln’s Home.  The entire neighborhood where Lincoln owned a home has been preserved just as it was (almost) in Lincoln’s day and is now a National Park.  We took the tour given by the park rangers then walked around on our own for several hours.

IL - Springfield 73 Lincoln Home side view from streetLincoln’s Home

The house was remodeled once and the back portion was added.

IL - Springfield 52 Lincoln Home dining roomThe dining room

IL - Springfield 53 Lincoln Home living roomThe living room

IL - Springfield 58 Lincoln Home Mary's bedroomAbe’s bedroom

Abe and his wife each had their own bedroom.  The children shared Mary’s room with her (in a trundle bed that pulled out from beneath her bed) until they were older and each moved into his own room.

IL - Springfield 62 Lincoln Home kitchen

The kitchen

Although Mary had several servants she loved cooking and spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  Some say that she was a bit “too” involved in the household duties (as in very OCD & not very polite) and “drove off” much off the help!  Once, when Abe had just returned from a trip, the neighbor complained to him about his wife’s behavior while Abe was away and Abe’s response was, “Now you know what I live with every day.”

IL - Springfield 72 Lincoln Home streetLooking down the street from the front of the Lincoln home

IL - Springfield 76 Lincoln Home neighborhoodThe home of one of Lincoln’s neighbors

IL - Springfield 79 Lincoln Home bunny(Above) A friendly visitor to the neighborhood

(Below) Another view of the neighborhood street

Even the wooden sidewalks were restored to the way they looked when the Lincolns lived on the street.

IL - Springfield 82 Lincoln Home street

IL - Springfield 87 Lincoln Home chipmunkThis little guy was living under the boardwalk in front of this house.  He came out just long enough for Roberta to snap this picture.

IL - Springfield 91 Lincoln Home neighborhoodSome more of the neighborhood homes

IL - Springfield 94 Lincoln Home neighborhood

This was a neighborhood of  middle class  professionals – mostly doctors, lawyers and statesmen.  At the time Lincoln bought this house he was a successful lawyer, well-respected in the community and clearly doing well financially, as were his neighbors.

IL - Springfield 95 Lincoln Home neighborhood streetAnother view of the beautiful, tree-lined street

One of our other stops was the Illinois State Museum.  On the second floor was an exhibit about how anything in life can be seen as art.  Such as…

IL - Springfield 103 State Museum Irish crochet dressthis Irish crochet dress (c.1910)…

IL - Springfield 107 State Museum Indian front viewthis wooden Indian…

IL - Springfield 113 State Museum rocking horseand this early American rocking horse.

IL - Springfield 118 State Museum entrance bear horizontalDave – “Run, Roberta!  There’s a really BIG bear behind you!!”

Roberta – “Yeah, right.  I’m not falling for that AGAIN!”

IL - Springfield 124 White-tail deer statue side viewAfter leaving the museum we drove by a park where we saw this very large, shiny,  sculpture of a white-tail deer.

Not far from the State Museum is the (current) State Capitol building.

IL - Springfield 129 Memorial treeThis memorial tree is planted in front of the State Capitol as a tribute to all men and women who have served in any war since WWI.

IL - Springfield 132 Abraham Lincoln statue distantAlso in front of the Capitol Building is a statue of Stephen Douglas (the only one of him we saw in all of Springfield) and this one of Abraham Lincoln.

On our last evening in Springfield our friends took us to a nearby park at the edge of the river, where we skipped rocks along the water and watched the sun set.

IL, Springfield 134 - Bridgeview Park sunsetThe end of the day begins at Bridgeview Park

IL, Springfield 136 - Bridgeview Park silhouettes on lakeDave and Alan walking toward the riverbank at dusk

IL, Springfield 140 - Bridgeview Park Family on slideAlan & Shelley “posed” for this picture on the park slide with their whole “family”.

May 9

On our drive out of Springfield we stopped at this power plant  so Dave could take pictures of it for his website.  Roberta thought this sign was placed in a rather amusing location.

Illinois 5-9-11

Ya think??  Of course if your “vehicle” can float maybe it’d be ok to proceed…

From Springfield we made a very special trip to Champaign, Illinois.  Roberta’s mother graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign in the 1940’s and we wanted to get a picture of us on the campus for her Mother’s Day gift.

University of Illinois, Champaign 011Go Illini!!

University of Illinois, Champaign 001

University of Illinois, Champaign 017This is the only building Roberta remembers seeing when she last traveled to the University campus (with her family in 1964!)  Although it looks a lot like a spaceship just landed it is actually the Performing Arts Center.

May 10

While waiting for the Mother’s Day photo to be printed, we made a quick stop at the Beer Nuts Company Store in Bloomington, IL and tasted some yummy free samples.

Il - Beer Nuts 2 5-10-2011

Since we are still trying to finish our Route 66 journey we decided we shouldn’t miss Funk’s Grove – home of real maple sirup.  No, that is not a misspelling of the word “sirup”.  One of the facts we learned there is that “sirup” spelled with an “i” is the REAL stuff made by boiling the sap of the maple tree, while “syrup” is the end product of adding sugar to fruit juice.

IL - Funk's Grove 2

IL - Funk's Grove 3It was a beautiful place!

IL - Funk's Grove 7

IL - Funk's Grove 8Production had just finished for the season 3 weeks before our visit, but we were able to see the equipment as it was being cleaned and stored for the summer.

IL - Funk's Grove 11

May 12-13

Pontiac, IL was definitely on our list of Route 66 places to see, but once we got there we were surprised how much there was to see!  We ended up staying two full days.   First we went to see the swinging bridges on the Vermillion River, then to see the historic courthouse.  Along the way we found a Route 66 museum that we spent a lot of time in, mostly because of the “bus” (see pics that follow).  We were also fascinated by the murals that were scattered all over the city and the mini-car theme throughout.

IL, Pontiac 2 - kayakerKayaking & jet-skiing are 2 of the activities that we saw on the Vermillion River.

IL, Pontiac 3 - swinging bridgeThere are 4 swinging bridges on the River.  This is the first one we saw.

IL, Pontiac 6 - swinging bridge closeupAnother swinging bridge

This one we got going pretty good!

IL, Pontiac 7 - Vermillion RiverTwo views of the Vermillion River

IL, Pontiac 10 - Vermillion River

IL, Pontiac 14 - Camp Humiston poolThis pool was built in 1925.  It was just shut down when it started leaking last year.

IL, Pontiac 20  - Vermillion RiverAnother view of the river with our “home” in the background

IL, Pontiac 23 - Vermillion RiverThe third swinging bridge we saw…

IL, Pontiac 25 - swinging bridgeand walked across.

We tried to take a video to show how much the bridge actually swings (a lot!) – but it looks more like the camera is just shaking.  Oh well, see what you think…

IL, Pontiac 26 - steps into Vermillion RiverEasy access to the river

IL, Pontiac 28 - Vermillion River billboard

IL, Pontiac 37 - Courthouse full front viewHistoric Pontiac Courthouse

IL, Pontiac 46 - downtown closerHistoric downtown Pontiac

IL, Pontiac 65 - Vermillion dam full viewThe dam on the Vermillion River

One of the most interesting parts of Pontiac is the numerous murals that have been painted on walls all over the city.  Each one depicts some history of the area or some Route 66 memorabilia.

IL, Pontiac 34 - Pontiac mural

IL, Pontiac 42 - Chautauqua mural

IL, Pontiac 47 - CocaCola mural

IL, Pontiac 55 - Route 66 parking lot muralThis mural is designed with a road in front of it so you can drive your own “vintage” car up in front of the mural for a photo shoot!

IL, Pontiac 56 - Oil Co. & Soda Fountain muralThese two (above & below) are painted on the back of some stores so they look the way the street would have looked back when Route 66 was in its heyday.

IL, Pontiac 57 - Soda Fountain mural

IL, Pontiac 48 - Route 66 mural left end viewThis mural was designed by Bob Waldemire but left unfinished at the time of his death.  Volunteers are now in the process of finishing it.  The mural shows the entire Route 66 map with various attractions highlighted along the way, and is exactly 66 feet long.  More about the artist below…

One of the things we discovered along Route 66 is that there is no shortage of Route 66 museums!  And every museum seems to have its own “claim to fame” as the only museum with ________ (fill in the blank).  Pontiac was no different.  However, their display of the Bob Waldemire bus WAS most definitely unique!!

Bob Waldemire was born in Springfield, IL in 1945.  In 1962 his family took a trip along Route 66 to California.  Bob fell in love with Route 66 and spent the rest of his life traveling the Mother Road, first in a 1964 Mustang, then a 1972 VW van, and finally in this used 1966 60-passenger school bus which he purchased in 1987 from the Gallup, NM school district.  He supported himself by selling his paintings and drawings.  In May of 1988 he returned to the family farm in Springfield, parked the bus and converted it into stationary living space where he resided until his death in December 2009.  The moving of the bus to the Pontiac Route 66 Museum was completed in December 2010 and had just been opened for public tours about a month before we came to Pontiac.  The bus was equipped with solar panels, a rain water collection system, a back porch,  storage loft, and working toilet and shower, and as you can see in the photos, much more!  We were fascinated by it, to say the least!!

IL, Pontiac 78 - Bob Waldmire bus outside side view

View of the entire bus as it has been preserved outside the Museum

And inside the bus –

IL, Pontiac 81 - Bob Waldmire bus inside typewriterBob’s work area

IL, Pontiac 83 -Bob Waldmire bus inside woodburning stoveA real wood-burning stove

IL, Pontiac 84 - Bob Waldmire bus inside DaveDave admiring the decor

IL, Pontiac 85 - Bob Waldmire bus inside steering wheelBob’s own version of  “lo-jack” – it is a rubber snake, not a real one!

IL, Pontiac 90 - Bob Waldmire bus inside kitchen sinkThe kitchen – complete with stove, range-top and sink

IL, Pontiac 94 - Bob Waldmire bus outside roof deckThe back entrance to the bus with the “sundeck” visible on the roof

IL, Pontiac 102 - Route 66 Museum Dave in Jail Cell doorDave leaving the Museum

(The upper level of the Museum is in the old jailhouse.)

Another interesting “quirk” about Pontiac – there was a “car theme” throughout the city (maybe because of the name??).  Everywhere we went we saw mini-cars painted in a variety of ways.  Here are some samples –

IL, Pontiac 38 - colorful car

IL, Pontiac 39 - Abe Lincoln car full viewthe A. Lincoln Towne Car parked in front of the Courthouse

IL, Pontiac 44 - Leopard skin car

IL, Pontiac 60 - green Nature Center car with DaveDave checking out the gardener’s truck,  complete with gardening tools (permanently glued) in the bed.

IL, Pontiac 62 - yellow Transformer car side viewthe Transformer car

IL, Pontiac 64 - Eyeglass car

IL, Pontiac 67 - patriotic car side viewthe Patriotic car parked outside the War Museum

IL, Pontiac 68 - green tow truckthe Tow Truck parked in front of a gas station mural

IL, Pontiac 103 - Route 66 Museum car being paintedThis car was in the process of being “created” in a back room of the Museum

May 13

Leaving Pontiac we drove along as many parts of the original Route 66 that were still drivable.  First we entered the town of Odell, followed soon after by the town of Dwight.

IL, Odell 2 Standard StationOriginal Standard Station in Odell

IL, Odell 5 ToolsSome of the old tools inside the station

IL, Odell 8 1953 WinnebagoA vintage Winnebago trailer parked outside the station

IL, Odell 14 squirrel under carThis little furry fellow just happened to be taking a walk under this SUV when Roberta spotted him.

IL, Odell 19 Antique Gas PumpsOn the road between Odell and Dwight we saw this unique collection of old gas pumps on display in front of someone’s home.

IL, Odell 21 Route 66 Java StopThis mural is painted on the side of a trailer that used to sell coffee.

IL, Odell 27 Dwight Railway StationThe old train station in Dwight has been kept looking the way it did when Dwight was an important stop along the railway line.

IL, Odell 30 Dwight First National BankAgain, we found architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright!  Dwight proudly boasts that one of its bank buildings was designed by him in 1906.

IL, Odell 31 Dwight First National Bank billboard

IL, Odell 32 Dog statueApparently Dwight did not want to be outdone by Pontiac, so started its own street corner collection of painted dogs (instead of mini-cars).  We saw these dogs on several street corners in Dwight.  Except for the odd paint jobs, they actually looked rather realistic!

IL, Odell 35 Fire EscapeWe saw these structures outside several schools in small towns.  We guessed they are fire escapes???

Our last stop for the month of May was at Woodhaven Lakes Resort in north central Illinois.  We had not planned to stay as long as we did, but liked it so much we stayed through Memorial Day.  The weather during our stay ranged from lower 50’s to upper 80’s, dry and sunny some days, humid and sunny other days,  occasionally cloudy but dry, and thunder & lightening storms about every third day.  We had several tornado WATCHES, but no WARNINGS or events that forced us to seek shelter – thank goodness!  There certainly was enough damage from such storms around & nearby us, we lucked out again, we think.  One of the great parts about our stay was all the bike-riding we were able to do.  One day Roberta took her camera on a ride and took these photos.  We hope it makes ALL of you in the city JEALOUS 😉 !!

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 019 - entrance sign

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 003

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 007 - first locationThe first campsite we stayed in.  It was a great location just across from the store, laundromat,  and main entertainment pavilion.  As luck would have it, someone else had reserved this spot for the Memorial weekend so we had to move to a different campsite!

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 008One of the many trails we frequented on our bicycles

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 010

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 013One of the lakes we could see from the trail

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 015

The closest town (6 miles from the resort) was Amboy.  We rode into town on our bikes once to do grocery shopping (carrying home 50 lbs. of groceries in a backpack on a bike is quite an experience!).  When we saw this house in town we just had to take a picture – we thought it looked like it was made up of puzzle pieces!

IL - Woodhaven Lakes 018 - Amboy puzzle houseThe Amboy “Puzzle House”


About meanderingmomma

A retired school teacher hits the road
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