An easy trip today, 124 miles. I wanted to take the highway running closest to the Mississippi River, State Highway 79. I thought that we would see the river for most of the run until Winfield. I was wrong! Leaving Hannibal, the highway led us through a series of hills, with only an occasional glimpse of the River. We passed a couple of “Scenic Overlook” signs and pulled into one of them. As you can see from the picture below, the trees obscured most of the view. Eventually, the road flattened out and ran closer to the river.
It was little disappointing from the photographic perspective. However, we got a taste of small town America. We didn’t see any significant non-agricultural industry on the route until we got to O’Fallon and I-70. The area outside these towns was farm land and the corn and other crops looked good to us “city folks.” The small towns were sad, a lot of closed and abandoned store fronts. How far do people in these towns have to go to get groceries and other needs? Where do they get quality medical care? I don’t know the answer.
Our first and only stop was in Ferguson to meet Scott Bonner, the director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library. We first met Scott at the 2015 American Library Association Annual meeting in San Francisco. Scott was awarded the Lemony Snicket Award for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity, for his action in keeping the library open during the period following the shooting of Michael Brown. We first met him in San Francisco and crossed paths with him at other ALA meetings. After spending some time with him, we headed to the hotel in St. Louis.
This evening we met with Susie’s cousin, Susan, for dinner. The two had never met because the two fathers were estranged. We also hope to meet Susan’s sister Kathy in New Orleans.
Today was all about Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Hannibal was his boyhood home and inspiration for the characters and locations in his books, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
We planned to start our day by going up to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse at the top of Cardiff Hill. We got to the base of the steps leading to the lighthouse and quickly changed our mind about going up the stairs. Neither Susie’s or my knees could handle it. Depending who you ask, there are 240 or 340 steps to the top. We decided to do it later, by car.
We walked across the street from the stairs to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. The admission ticket gets you into the home and several other Mark Twain related sites in Hannibal’s historic district. Following a walk through the house, we went to the Becky Thatcher House and the Museum Gallery, which contains 15 Norman Rockwell paintings that were used to illustrate special editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
We walked back from Main Street to our Hotel and got into the car. Our first stop was the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse which offered a great view of the historic district. Our next stop was the Mark Twain Riverboat which offered an hour cruise on the river. After the cruise, we hopped into the car and headed to Mark Twain Cave, which was the inspiration for the cave in Tom Sawyer. Susie sat out the tour of the cave because of her knee.
An early morning for us. We had to be at McCormick Place for an 8:30am presentation hosted by Susie. She wanted to be there early to make sure the room was set up properly . We grabbed a quick Starbucks breakfast at the hotel and checked out by 7am. We figured that we may run into a lot of traffic heading south on Michigan Avenue, but none materialized and we were in the parking lot by 7:15am.
The presentation went very well and attendance was around 75, more than double the number we saw last year. After the meeting we walked slowly to the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place for a luncheon… we had a lot of time to kill. At 2pm we were in the car heading down I-55 to Joliet. Encountering no traffic, we made it to our hotel in under an hour.
The main reason we stopped in Joliet was to visit Kathy, a quilting friend of Susie’s at our winter home in Sarasota, FL. We planned to be there at around 11:30am, spend an hour or so and head to Springfield. By the time we finished the visit at her home and at the farm it was 2pm… time flies when you are having a good time.
Unfortunately, the good time in Joliet cut into our time visiting Abraham Lincoln landmarks in Springfield. The first place we visited was Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery (the 2nd most visited cemetery in the U.S. – the first is Arlington). Susie stayed on a bench outside, while I went inside the tomb, see pictures below.
We then drove to Lincoln Home National Historic Site. There was a wait to get a tour inside the home so I had contend myself with pictures of the exterior. This is an interesting site, with many of the original neighboring homes open to the public.
After leaving Lincoln’s home we headed to Hannibal, MO, our destination for the night. Tomorrow we will have more time to visit Mark Twain’s home town.
We left The Charm Countryview Inn before breakfast because we didn’t want to get into Chicago during the rush hour. This move probably made a significant drop in our daily calorie count from the previous two mornings.
Google Maps recommended using US 30 into western Indiana before getting on I-90 as the fastest way to Chicago. My Jeep GPS had us going a different way that put us on the I-90 in central Ohio. I let the GPS guide us, a decision I later regretted. The Ohio portion of I-90 was moving fairly well with only a few construction sites. Once in Indiana we encountered numerous construction sites with a single traffic lane. The construction delays cost us at least an hour on what should have been a six hour drive. As we neared Chicago, I-90 split from I-80 and headed north, traffic eased up. Nearing our destination the traffic got quite heavy and we were glad to get to the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the Convention’s Headquarters hotel.
This the third time we drove into Chicago and I hope the last. I doubt that we will be coming here for another convention, and if we do, we will fly in.
The first part of the morning was spent in our room with Susie preparing for a meeting at McCormick Place Convention Center and me working on some issues related to this blog. We also changed our itinerary by departing Chicago a day earlier than planned so that we would have two days to visit Hannibal, MO.
At 10:30 we got on the bus and headed to the convention center to register and for Susie’s first two meetings. I headed back to the hotel to complete a variety of tasks. Susie returned to the hotel in mid-afternoon.
Tonight we attended a reception hosted by Jim Neal, ALA President Elect. The reception was for new committee chairs and new interns.
There was nothing on the schedule for this morning so Susie and I took a walk around the area. This part of Chicago has three layers, the river, the street and an intermediate level which contains streets, parking garages and train tracks. We stayed at the top level. After returning to the hotel, I decided to take my camera and go down to the river level. Susie didn’t accompany me because she would have difficulty going up and down three flights of stairs… it wasn’t so easy on my knees either. I only had a limited amount of time so I walked back and forth from the North Michigan Avenue bridge to just past the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. I walked to the furthest point and took the pictures, below, on the return trip.
We headed to McCormick Place just before one pm. Susie and I offered to help at the Award Presentations. After the awards were handed out and a presentation by Ron Chernow about his biography of Ulysses S. Grant, which will be out soon, we briefly attended a reception for the award winners and headed back to the hotel.
Today is our last full day in Chicago. Susie is hosting a presentation sponsored by the Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries Committee, which she chairs. After a luncheon, we will head to Joliet, a 48 mile run.
After yesterday’s rain we woke up to a beautiful morning. The view looking out our window this morning was picture perfect… so I took one.
I picked up our friends, Mary and Emanuel, and brought them to The Charm Countryview Inn for Breakfast. Breakfast at this B&B is unlike any other we have ever experienced (except here last year). It begins with the guests introducing themselves and telling how many times they stayed at the B&B… most have been here multiple times. This is followed by a sermon by the owner, Paul, who is a minister. While I’m not a Christian I really like the way he gets his message out… he really holds the guests’ attention. Once these formalities are concluded a three course breakfast is served. The food is great and plentiful… don’t come here if you are on a diet. The breakfast started around 8:15 and we didn’t leave the table until after 10.
After Breakfast we headed to Sugarcreek and David Warther Carvings. This is a museum/workshop owned by David and contains several rooms of ship models carved from elephant ivory (all imported into the US before the ban). These carvings are not done by carving a solid piece of ivory. He cuts the individual components and pins them together with tiny ivory pins. The rigging is made from ivory so thin that they can flex quite a bit before they snap. You are escorted through the rooms by a guide who can answer your questions. At the end of the tour, David was available to answer questions. It was a fascinating museum that was well worth the trip.
Like almost all our other trips, the first day is the longest… a little over 500 miles. Our goal is to get out of the Metropolitan area before rush hour traffic. When we got up at 5:30, Susie heard a traffic report that would instantly alter our travel our plans. An incident west of the George Washington Bridge caused delays in excess of one hour. Instead of going on I-80, our normal route west, we headed to the southern route (gray line on the map, above).
We left home around 6:45 without having breakfast… no coffee… I didn’t think I would survive. We encountered minimal traffic delays getting out of the city. The trip was uneventful except for about an hour of rain as we traveled through a cold front in western Pennsylvania. The temperature dropped from 88 degrees to 66 degrees in about 30 minutes.
We are now in our B&B, the Charm Countryview Inn. We stayed here last year and it is a great place if you want get away from it all. The only problem for me is that there is no WiFi (I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot), and no TV… but great breakfasts. I will try to upload a picture of the view from our room window tomorrow (it’s raining right now).
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