After time with friends, we decided it was time to get some history lessons. First up was a stop in Hannibal, MO to learn about the life of Mark Twain. We stayed at Ray Behrens COE park on Mark Twain lake, just a bit SW of Hannibal. While a nice park, relatively quiet and first come, first serve FHU sites, their ranger enforcement and cleanup left something to be desired. Be forewarned, this is a shitty story...literally.
We arrived early on a Monday, around noon, and snatched up one of the last 2FHU sites. Our site was about 80ft long and paved. We had lots of room for the truck and RV.
We found it pretty crazy that they were that busy on a Monday, but we soon found out why. The majority of the sites around us were all a group of tent campers and popups. Yes, tents in FHU sites...what a waste of a FHU site, right? Well don't underestimate the craftiness of a camper. One site had a large animal trailer full of all sorts of stuff to make, what we affectionately called a shitty shanty. They made a "room" out of a refrigerator box and placed it over the sewer hookup pipe at the site. They then put a full size TOILET inside the box and commenced to use their new outdoor bathroom!! I kid you not, I cannot make this stuff up!!! The most horrific part is that when they left they took the toilet and hosed it off in the grass with the fresh water faucet!!! We do know they were told to take it down and then proceeded to resurrect the shanty and then were evicted from the park. It takes all kinds! Pictures for proof...
We went to Hannibal for a day to explore the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. What a well done exhibit and museum!! If you are ever near Hannibal you really need to stop by. The self guided tour starts off in the visitors center and then moves into Mark Twain's boyhood home. Each room in the house is behind glass and set in period style with Twain quotes and figures. Not only was the inside information well done, outside was just as nice! Beautiful grounds and gardens, cobblestone streets and interactive exhibits. In fact, Rick had to get in on painting the fence!
The museum was a couple blocks away and was just as nice. Both locations really immerse you in the time and life of Mark Twain and the museum has numerous Twain artifacts as well as several of the Norman Rockwell paintings of Tom Sawyer and the gang.
We really enjoyed walking through the quaint downtown area and found these great little stamps on the sidewalk throughout, celebrating the towns anniversary. Unfortunately, because of all the flooding with the MIssissippi River, we didn't get to see much of the riverfront because they had the flood walls closed to protect the downtown.
We also had to check out the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn statue downtown, again, beautifully landscaped. The delicious smells got the best of us and we decided to have a late lunch at the Mark Twain Brewery. The food was really good, especially the pub chips and beer cheese dip. A really cool place on the river.
On our last full day in MO, we explored Mark Twain Lake that we were staying on and the COE Visitor Center. Wow, what a beautiful visitors center, complete with beautiful views of the lake, a very nice Veterans memorial and plenty of space to have a picnic and enjoy a nice walk through the woods.
With the flooding in the area, the dam on the lake was opened and you could really see the rushing water and just how full the lake was.
From Hannibal, we moved on down the road to Springfield, IL, where we stayed at the IL State Fairgrounds campground. We stayed there one night last June as well on our way down to Branson. This time we stayed 3 nights so we could explore more of Springfield and the Lincoln must see's. At $20 military rate for FHU site, albeit a parking lot, it is a great deal and very convenient and safe.
On our first day we set out to explore the Lincoln National Heritage Area and the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. The Heritage area encompasses a couple blocks near downtown and has a visitor center that really does a good job of laying out what Springfield looked like during Lincoln's day to help immerse you in the time period. You can take a free tour of Lincoln's home with a park ranger. Their knowledge is wide and deep and Caleb, our guide, really was passionate about the history of Lincoln's life. It was fascinating to see the home and hear the stories behind it. What was surreal was touching and seeing items that Lincoln used that were not reproductions or period pieces. We really enjoyed walking around the area and seeing the other homes.
From the historic area we made a quick trek a couple blocks north to the Lincoln Library and Museum. It is in the downtown area as well, and there are several other places to visit in the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating and we ducked quickly inside the library to walk around and then over to the museum, which, in our humble opinion, is the crown jewel of the Lincoln experience in Springfield. It is $15 for adults and $10 for military and worth every penny. We were also fortunate enough to be there on a day that they put on a 2 man play of the weeks after the Ford Theatre shooting that was very good!
The museum is set to show his early life in one section as you walk through a cabin and then the other section is his presidential days as you walk through the White House. We both agree that the most moving piece is as you walk into a room that is a replica of the Springfield capital with Lincoln lying in state. Lights are dim, lilly arrangements are in place and you are walking past the casket. It was very moving to say the least. There is also a rotating section that is currently a wonderful gallery on WWII and finally a cool Holavision Theater that has holographic images talking about the history of life and times of Lincoln. We were told that Disney specialists were brought in to help develop the museum and we could definitely see similarities and the level of detail.
After the museums, we dodged the rain and thunderstorms to get back to the RV and hunker down for the night. Unfortunately we only were able to do a drive by of the capital and other points of interest.
The next day started with some rain, but mid morning it stopped so we decided to go out and see Lincoln's Tomb in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. The cemetery itself is quite impressive and well kept. The Lincoln Tomb area is very impressive with a beautiful caretakers home that looks like a castle.
The tomb and monument is amazing! There is a bust of Lincoln out front that is known for the good luck it gives when you rub it's nose. When in Rome...
The tomb's exterior is granite and the obelisk stands 117 ft high. Statues on each corner represents a branch of the military and are cast from metal of 65 cannons donated by the US government. Very detailed statues! During the day you can go into the tomb, which was quite impressive and chilling at the same time. At every turn there are various statues of Lincoln at various times of his life and then you enter the tomb area, which everyone immediately goes silent out of respect. Indeed a beautiful tribute and well designed.
With the weather still in our favor, we headed over to the IL State Military Museum. We were fortunately there on a weekend when veterans and reenactors were set up there showing their period pieces and military vehicles. The museum itself was really nicely done and takes you through the military history of Illinois' military units through the years. They even have the gun that Lincoln fired on the White House grounds and his target.
By this time we were getting super hungry and found a great little place near downtown. Boone's Saloon was a great find and highly recommended. Rick had the Mushroom Bourbon burger and I had the Bourbon Chicken Club wrap. Oh man...both were amazing and we were stuffed!
From Springfield, we moved on to the greater Kankakee area for a quick visit with my brother and stayed at the Kankakee South KOA. There is not alot of campground choices in the area, so this was about our only option for a spot on a Monday night and we had FHU to boot. Just as we pulled in to our site, the sky let loose with a gully washer for about a half hour. Not really knowing how the weather would be in the morning, we stayed hooked up to the truck as the site was pretty level. That night we went out for a mexican dinner with my brother and retired early, since I was not feeling well.
The next morning we moved on closer to our destination of Elkhart, IN. We stayed for a night at Potato Creek State Park. We had stayed at the park back in 2014 for our annual family camp outing and really enjoyed ourselves so we came back. The park encompasses a 6 square mile area (3,840 acres), and has a really nice lake for small boats or kayaks. There are several trails, bike trails, camp store, cross country skiing, swimming and camping. They have over 200 sites that are all pretty much 60 ft long, but some of the sites, based on angle and trees may not accommodate a big rig very well. AGAIN, while we were there, it rained. I swear it was following us. Lots of large puddles and sites that were not habitable until the waters went down. Luckily the site we picked did not have any standing water and we parked for the night. Again, with the unstable weather, we decided not to unhook fo the night and hunkered down for the night.
Next up...Elkhart, IN and a big upgrade for our home!
SHOP AMAZON HERE
Would you like to help support our blog and keep these updates coming? It is easy to help, just do your Amazon shopping through the link above. You still get all your Amazon Prime benefits and the prices are the same. Since we are in the Amazon affiliate program, any shopping you do through our link, provides a little kickback to support this blog.
Thank you for stopping by!!!!
Holy smokes is it HOT!!! We are on our first road trip with The Grand Beauty, pulled by the Beast. Overall the trip has gone well, but long and HOT.
We started off the trip at Harrington Beach State Park in Belgium with family. We had a great time relaxing and trying to keep warm. Yes you heard that right! Thursday night got into the very low 50's and with all the windows open, it did get pretty chilly! My cousin, Kassi, was a trooper and braved it out in a tent...with layers of clothes, a blanket and a sleeping bag. But we lived to enjoy another day at Harrington Beach on Lake Michigan.
Friday after a little bit of rain, Rick, Kassi, our son Nicholas and I went for a nice long walk through the park. They do have some great picturesque trails on the lake, through the woods and around an old quarry which is now a lake. We even saw a couple deer who are not afraid of people or the pictures you take of them. Later in the afternoon, the rest of the family showed up and we had 7 sites in the non-electric section of the campground. We celebrated some birthdays and had a great night at the campfire, except for the darn hollow log that just wouldn't cooperate. Saturday morning we packed up early as it started to get warm and steamy. This is where the hot, hot begins!
After saying our goodbyes and emptying tanks, we were on our way south. The drive through Milwaukee was uneventful, except for the bumpy roads that were pretty jarring at times. I wonder if I-10 across the south is really worse than these roads! Our first day was the longest drive from Belgium, WI to Springfield, IL. We left at 11am and arrived at the IL State Fairgrounds campground a little after 6pm. With 7 hours of driving, we were both exhausted and hot. It was 96 degrees when we arrived and very humid. We opted for full hookups with 50amp so we could run both air conditioners. Unfortunately, those sites were in the blacktop parking area. After setting up, Rick looked like a drowned rat! By the time we were done and the rv was cooled to a steamy 88 degrees, we decided to go get a quick dinner out. Way too hot to cook. We found a cool, hole in the wall gyro shop and had a relaxing dinner. When we got back to the RV, it had cooled considerably and we crawled right into bed, exhausted from the long hot day.
Sunday we were up early, as it was going to be another hot day, with temps hitting 100. We went out for a Fathers Day breakfast and a quick fuel up at Walmart along with some needed items. We had originally planned to stop at Lincoln's home Sunday morning before leaving, but decided to forego that and get packed up before the heat of the day set in. We were hooked up and on the road by 11am. It was already in the low 90's and humid. Today was going to be another long day, with us looking to make it to Lebanon, MO where we had reservations at Happy Trails RV Park. Southern IL roads were in better shape and we sailed along. The landscape began to get a bit more hilly and trees were dotting the landscape rather than the flat, farm landscape of Central IL. Hitting St Louis proved to be a bit more challenging. We were wanting to go around STL on I-255, but due to construction and very confusing road signs, we missed that exit and ended up going straight through STL where even more confusing signage continued. When you are in a big truck pulling 42 feet of heavy metal behind you, it is almost impossible to make quick moves, much less change lanes on a dime like the other little cars were doing in front of us. Oh, and let's not forget the semi that decided he did not want to get on I-65 and cut back in front of us. Luckily, Rick saw he hesitated and gave him a bit of room to course correct. I think that proved to be the longest and most frustrating part of the trip thus far. Although, one other frustrating detail that proved to complicate things is that the new Tire Pressure Monitoring System(TPMS) for the RV continued to malfunction both days. This is a separate system from the trucks TPMS system and is monitored on a cellphone app. When working correctly, it is really cool and continuously monitors the temperature and pressure of each RV tire and alerts you to any abnormalities. The past two days however, it has continued to loose connection to two of the tire transmitters and then throws off an alarm on the app. Each transmitter has a flat, watch-like battery and initially we attributed it to the batteries going dead prematurely, so we changed them out with new ones that were sent with the unit. We soon ran out of fresh batteries and were getting pretty frustrated with it. Rick then decided to take the batteries out and let them sit when we hit a rest area, re-installing them before we left and that seemed to work for a bit, but then re-alarmed again further down the road. Our last ditch effort was to move the two alarming transmitters to different tires. We will see what happens there. We do have a communication into the company and an order for free replacement batteries. Perhaps it is faulty transmitters. If it is, we will need to wait to get those installed until we are back in WI.
We arrived at Happy Trails RV Park around 4pm, which made for a 5 hour drive day. Many Fulltime Rv'ers stick to a firm rule of 3 hours of drive time or be off the road and set up by 3pm. I now can completely understand and appreciate that way of thinking! If we were not needing to be at our destination by Monday, I would not be pushing the drive time soo hard. After these two days of 5 to 7 hours of driving, not to mention in this heat, we are beat! Hopefully a good night sleep and only 3 hours of driving to our final destination tomorrow will be better. I will leave you with some pictures of our lovely full hook up site by the pond.
SHOP AMAZON HERE
We participate in the Amazon affiliate program and we appreciate you using our Amazon link above to make your Amazon purchases. It does not cost you anything additional and helps us to support our blog. You can even save our link as a favorite and use that whenever you need to make an Amazon purchase. Thank you!!!
Shop AMAZON Here
By shopping through our link, you help to support our page and allow us to keep bringing you more exciting updates of our travels.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies