We regret not buying some of the Navaho crafts in the southwest early in the trip. They were high quality, but we were concerned about avoiding over-shopping early in the trip. Wish we could afford one of the Navaho rugs, the finest craft we found along the trip.
Our last stop in SD was at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
This is one of the coolest places. Mitchell is a small town. During the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the town was insulted when L&C said nothing would grow in the area. They built a Corn Palace decorated on the outside and inside with real corn and prairie grasses. They use the facility for sports and other entertainment events. The inside murals relate to the Indians and pioneers and the final reconciliation between the two peoples.
The outside murals have a yearly theme and are replaced annually because the birds and weather cause them to deteriorate. Every August there is a Corn Festival, which brings in top entertainers over several days. They celebrate the redecorating of the outside of the Palace.
After South Dakota, we traveled through Iowa, Minnesota, and finally Illinois, passing corn, corn, and more corn.
The ride going west through VA, TN, AK, OK, TX, NM, and AR was much more interesting than the route we have taken back from SD. Where does all this corn go? Not a whole lot to see until we got to Springfield, IL.
Springfield, IL is the Land of Lincoln. Lincoln spent his adult years here, practiced law, married, bought a home, and raised his family here. What an excellent job the city has done in preserving the Lincoln historical sites and enhancing the Lincoln learning experience! We visited Lincoln’s home (protected by the National Park Service),
the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office (his last and only remaining office), the Lincoln Train Depot, site of his famous Farewell Address to friends and supporters February 11, 1861, when leaving for Washington. The Old State Capitol has also been restored to an accurate replica of the building, as it was when Lincoln served as a state legislator and practicing lawyer. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is first-rate and very entertaining with Disney-like exhibits, wax figures, and multi-sensory theatrical experiences.
We regretted not having more time than the three hours we spent there. The Museum is definitely one to return to more than once. The Treasury Gallery has changing exhibits. We saw Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, one of many "Oh, my God" exhibits. This is a MUST for anyone traveling near Springfield, especially if there are kids in the group.
Tuesday evening we paid our respects to Lincoln at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. Every Tuesday night during the summer, the 114th Infantry Regiment Illinois Volunteers perform a Flag Retreat Ceremony at the Lincoln Tomb. The unit is a Civil War (1862) Union regiment that was reactivated in 1969 for the purpose of serving the country as a patriotic organization, which has been serving continuously for 40 years.
Wednesday, we traveled through more corn and heavy traffic on lousy roads to Louisville, where we stopped for the night. We have observed several of the Economic Stimulus roadwork signs along the way. These signs cost $1200 each. The construction areas are lined with barrels, but we see few workers. At least the sign makers and barrel suppliers are getting a boost from the Federal government. We took a carriage ride and had dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse downtown. We were glad to leave Louisville’s confusing roads, traffic, trucks, and aggressive drivers unlike any we have experienced during our trip.
We're on the road now, heading home. Leaving South Dakota after our day at the Badlands, we made the obligatory stop in Wall, SD, at Wall Drug Store, the infamous junk tourist stop. It opened in 1931 during the depression and has survived more than one recession by tightening its belt--cutting back on hired help and controlling inventory. It is tacky, but a phenomenon to see…but so many rooms of tacky merchandise became tiresome after all the gift shops we have seen along the way.