Day 6 of the "I" states trip
Thursday, July 13, 2000
We staggered awake at lovely Jubilee campground (still in Illinois), with the day already too hot. Fortunately, the SS Creaks and Groans has a pretty good air conditioner, and the campsite had electricity, so we were set. (If there's no electricity, we can run the generator, but the noise of the generator added to the noise of the air conditioner reminds Laura of sleeping on the plane, not to mention the fact that is defeats the purpose of camping in otherwise quiet surroundings.)
One thing we've noticed during our driving is that just about everybody is busy mowing their lawns. Laura thinks that they're expecting it to rain, so they want their lawns ready. Robert thinks that they're waiting for the corn crop to come in and they need to keep busy. Whatever the reason, there's sure a lot of it going on, even at the campsite.
And it's finally time to take care of a matter we've been avoiding--emptying the "black water" tank. The RV divides water waste into "black" (icky stuff) and "gray" (sink and shower water). They go into separate tanks, but eventually, you have to empty them. Since we expect to be at a hotel for a couple of days, we figure now's a good time to take care of this.
It mostly goes without incident (whew!) although Robert gets a little on his feet when he initially removes the cap (Robert is kinda sorry he didn't buy a pair of waders just for this task...). There's a strong incentive to pay attention and do it right.
Once that nasty chore is out of the way, we leap into the SS Creaks and Groans and get under way. We set a course for Springfield (Illinois) and head through many corn fields and finally arrive at Oak Ridge cemetery. We pause to take a look at Lincoln's Tomb (where Lincoln, his wife, and two of his kids are buried).
There's a bust of Abe at ground level with a shiny nose. Apparently, if you rub his nose, you get good luck. We think that it's just as well there's not a statue of Abe at ground level. There's no telling what people would decide to rub for good luck.
All the statues of Abe have him looking very, very sad. Seems that even though Mr. Lincoln was a quick wit, he never looked happy or even pleased (at least according to the Statue Artists). Come on, guys, lighten up a little!
For more humorous stories by and about Abe, see http://www.homestead.com/abelincoln/Humor.html.
The cemetery booklet is quick to point out that there are other people besides Lincoln buried at Oakgrove (like Lincoln's law partner!). And our destination is one of those, even if he's not actually buried there. But we'll let our guidebook (Oddball Illinois by Jerome Pohlen) fill you in:
How could we resist?
Unfortunately, Mr. Bertelli wasn't out playing when we came by (it was probably too hot and humid for him--it certainly was for us!). But there was no indication that he (or his accordions) had gone to their final resting places.
But this wasn't the only attraction in Springfield (although it would certainly have been enough to bring us there!). For Springfield is also the birthplace of the Corn Dog! That's right--at a small, unassuming fast food joint called Cozy Drive In, the Corn Dog was brought to its modern pinnacle of perfection.
In addition to being the Birthplace of the Corn Dog, the Cozy Drive In is also an "official" stop on Old Route 66. In Springfield, the old highway is very clearly marked (including segments that only existed for a few years). Apparently, this is a big deal to a fair number of people (we hope it's not just because of the song).
And, just in case you were wondering, the Cozy Drive In is not all "touristy" and cleaned up. The cook smokes, there's pamphlets, signs, and right-wing bumper stickers everywhere. ("What if only Criminals had guns?" says one. We reply, "It'd be a lot easier to figure out who the bad guys were!")
After Laura finished savoring (and devouring) both corn dogs (which she proclaimed the "best corn dogs I've ever eaten!") we leapt in the SS Creaks and Groans and headed for St. Louis.
According to one fellow we met at the Cozy Drive In (somehow he figured out we weren't from around there...), this has been a great year for corn. It was a warm winter, and the drought just recently lifted, so everybody is happy.
Laura takes over the helm for a while
We finally arrive at the King Henry VII hotel in St. Louis, ready for the Gateway Sci-Fi convention. Parking leads to a few problems, as Robert kinda rubs up against a truck with the 40-zillion ton RV. Fortunately, a quick-witted passerby helps us out, and the truck is undamaged (as is the SS Creaks and Groans). We promptly head for the bar to make sure we stay hydrated.