Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Road

Nat Geo’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways recommends the 45-mile riverside road that runs from North St. Louis to Kampsville, IL. So I took it and am glad I did! Beautiful views of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Holy moly, that’s a lotta water! You kinda get that when you cross the Ole Miss on interstate highway bridges but driving alongside the river is an experience. There are a few small towns along the way, like Grafton, which would be cool to hang out in for a while. I passed through fairly early and they hadn’t really woken up yet (if they actually do!).

Once I got to Kampsville I realized the way back over the Illinois river was via ferry. While it was uneventful, it was cool to get the check in the box that I’d been on the water. Highway 108 headed east toward Springfield was a cool drive through corn forests and other crops this agriculture-illiterate guy didn’t recognize.

After I settled in at the tucked-away KOA south of Springfield (featuring a sad or just plain crabby owner a little obsessed with her trash bins, but that’s another story!) I headed into town to grab a brew at Engrained Brewery where I really enjoyed their German Helles Lager. Dude, these northern breweries seem to have a way with German style beers!

Back at camp I wrestled the original mattress outta the bedroom and the new mattress I’d had delivered to the KOA into its place. The stock lightweight mattress just wasn’t gonna cut it much longer. Since the new mattress needed 48 hours to decompress I bedded down on the jack-knife sofa. I already have pity for any guests who have to use  it and am beginning to see the value of a bunkhouse floor plan!

Headed back into Springfield today to visit Abe’s museum, home and other cool places (Buzz Bomb, Anvil & Forge Brewery & Distillery, etc.) More on that later!

Abe’s Town

Springfield, Illinois is a nice town. I see why Abe Lincoln liked it. There’s really nothing spectacular about it; it just seems like a nice place to live as long as you’re willing to trade mountains or beach for corn fields. Really, though, the downtown was kinda cool in a not-overly-touristy-way and the suburb southeast of town surrounding Springfield Lake has some beautiful properties and homes.

I checked out the town’s historic sites:

  • Abe Lincoln Home
    Abe Lincoln Home
    Abe Lincoln Neighborhood
    Abe Lincoln Neighborhood

    Abe’s & Mary’s home in a renovated neighborhood in the center of town. The National Park Service has done a nice job making this look like life in the mid 1800s. Their house was bigger than I expected (not sure why).

  • The old train station, now a special museum exhibit on the Hollywood movie about Abe, didn’t hold my interest. Would’ve been better just left as a simple historic place without the clutter.
  • The Abraham Lincoln Museum, which did draw me in for a  couple hours. The hologram presentation was especially good. The museum has several exhibits that are worth checking out; it’s a good place for a survey course on who was one of our best presidents. (They almost sold me a “I Miss Abe” t-shirt!)
  • Finally, the Old Courthouse. Great architecture, good displays, very interesting first-person account of the winding down of the Civil War by General Grant. Was kinda cool to walk the hardwood floors and sit at the tables where Lincoln himself practiced law.

The following morning I steadied myself for the 300 mile Interstate slog to Fort Wayne. I’ve said before how I enjoy the old US and state highways more—and I’ll post about one of those soon. Anyway, the trip from Springfield to Bluffton, Indiana (south of Fort Wayne) was uneventful. I enjoyed a great time visiting friends in Ft. Wayne: good food+good friends=good times. I even scored a care package for the road! Glad we were able to visit! Next up: Michigan for the month of July!