Near the beginning of May, we took a quick trip to Springfield, IL, to see our fair (not so fair) state's capital, geek out over Lincoln, and watch Clark run a race. We left on a Friday afternoon and returned late Saturday night (Sunday morning technically). Short trip, but we packed in a lot of fun.
First, we stopped at Lincoln's tomb. Our purpose was twofold: 1) to see Lincoln's final resting place, and 2) to scope out the cemetery. Clark's race was Saturday night through Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is a winding, complicated mess, and at night it would be even more so. We thought it might be good to just get a feel for the place, while enjoying the sightseeing at the same time.
The girls rubbed old Abe's nose.
Blue even got in on the action.
I hadn't realized that you actually get to go inside the tomb and walk right to the spot where Lincoln is buried. They have all sorts of signs asking you to whisper to maintain a respectful atmosphere, and there is even a person who sits by the headstone, I assume to enforce this. I was a bit worried about how the girls would do with this, but they have had lots of practice whispering in church, so they were golden. I found it to be a powerful experience.
We got there just a few days after the 150th anniversary of his entombment, and there were signs of the previous weekend's commemorative activities all around town. Here we are at the original entrance to the tomb, with flowers at the door.
Lincoln's house, complete with black bunting to mark his passing.
After touring his house, we headed to the old state capitol to have a look around. It's a beautiful building, and we geeked out some more over Lincoln.
This is the actual furniture that was in the Lincoln funeral car. THE ACTUAL FURNITURE. Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal to you. Maybe I seem like a crazy person, going ga-ga over some old furniture. But maybe you need to go read Bloody Crimes by James Swanson. Then you'll know what I'm talking about. (Also recommended: Manhunt. These two books are primarily responsible for my Lincoln obsession.)
After the Old State Capitol, we got some lunch at Panda Express, and then headed to the Lincoln Presidential Museum. If you find yourself in Springfield, this is the place to go. The girls and I went last year with my parents, and it was definitely worth going again. They put together such a beautiful portrait of Lincoln's life, from his humble beginnings in a log cabin, to his time at the White House, and through his assassination. They also have a couple of movies they run throughout the day, a children's room with the most amazing dollhouse (it's Lincoln's house!), and wax figures of the Lincoln family and numerous other people from Lincoln's time (including John Wilkes Booth, which is a little...off color. Don't you think?). I think it is so well done, and most definitely worth seeing. If you come visit, we'll go together!
Me, listening to General McClellan at the White House.
The Lincolns welcoming the Blockburgers!
Playing in Mrs. Lincoln's attic, the children's area.
After a full morning of walking around Springfield, and a full afternoon of walking around the museum, it was time for Clark to run a half marathon. Sounds like a ball, don't you think? We wore him out before he even started, but he still had an amazing run. His first half marathon ever, and he won first place in his age division. That's my hot runner husband!
As I mentioned before, the race was through the cemetery. At night. So everyone had to have a headlamp, and glow sticks were abundant. The first lap was at dusk, the second in the dark.
After that we went back to the car, ate some snacks for dinner (we do things on the cheap, if you haven't noticed), and pulled out all our glowsticks. It's pretty rare for our kids to stay up past sunset in the summer, so this was a real treat. We heard an owl hooting in a tree right by our car, and we had quite a party in the dark with our glowstick necklaces and bracelets. The pictures of this didn't really turn out, because it turns out it's hard to take pictures in the dark. But we still had fun, though we were all pretty tired by the time Clark finished.
So after that packed day (sightseeing, running a half marathon, ya know, the usual), we got in the car and Clark drove the 3.5 hours back home. The man is a machine. I still can't believe he did all that, and didn't complain once. All I can say is, I married up. That guy is amazing.
I've got to say, Springfield won me over. Even with their yucky drinking water (every fountain in the whole town tastes nasty), I loved every minute of our time there. Good on ya, Springfield. We'll be seeing you again soon.
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