DH had to make a trip to Evansville, Indiana this week. Because he is swamped with work, we tagged along. That way, I could drive and he could still get some work done during the car trip. Anyway, we like to tag along whenever possible. There’s always something interesting to see in different places around the country.
I guess I didn’t really pay attention to just how far Evansville is from us, though. Almost 8 hours of driving. Eeep.
Fortunately, the drive out was pretty uneventful, aside from a brief but furious downpour just outside of Cincinnati, OH. We had a Ford Fusion for our rental car, which ended up being (a) much smaller than the minivan we are used to but (b) very fun to drive. It had SIRIUS satellite radio AND a jack for my iPod. We were at least four hours into the drive before we figured out how to make all of the electronics work. But that kept us occupied.
We left home later than we planned (more work got in the way!) but still managed to get in to Evansville around 8PM local time. The kids had plenty of time for relaxing in the pool and hot tub.
They were also very impressed by the neon-lit elevator.
The next morning, DH met up with two guys from work and they headed out to the plant bright and early. The girls and I, meanwhile, decided to make a trek to Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood National Park, just 45 minutes from our hotel. We set out right after a hotel breakfast.
Boy, do I love traveling west. Thanks to the time zone change, our normal wake up time of 8:30 becomes 7:30, and it’s amazing what even one extra hour can do for a person’s schedule.
The park was really easy to find, but we were The Only Ones There. The ranger seemed kind of shocked to see us pull in, to be honest. It was kind of funny. But he was friendly and helped us get our Junior Ranger booklets. Most national parks have a Junior Ranger program, which is really neat. The kids complete several activities in a booklet (which they get to keep! bonus!), then there are often other activities like attending a ranger program or picking up trash, etc., and then they get pins and/or patches to show they are Junior Rangers for that park. We’ve already earned ones from Gold Rush National Park in Seattle and the Grand Canyon North Rim. The kids think they’re fun and they are a lot more engaged than I remember being when my parents slogged us through national parks ad nauseum.
Here’s the visitor’s center, where we started. We saw a 15 minute movie narrated by Leonard Nimoy about Lincoln’s time in Indiana (he lived here from age 7 until he was 21). It was actually very interesting.
Each of those “panels” on the walls of the visitor’s center are a carved relief with one of Abe’s famous quotations etched above. Of course I photographed every one.
The park is not overly large, but much of the important stuff is outside. We decided to walk to the knoll where Lincoln’s mother is buried and also hike the memorial trail that loops past the Lincoln family’s farmsite. First we checked ahead in the books to see if there’s anything we had to pay attention to on our hike to the Pioneer Cemetery and the Trail of Twelve Stones.
Here we are, looking across the parking lot at the Tallest Flagpole In Indiana. It’s 150′ high.
View of the visitor’s center from the flagpole/knoll:
The girls wanted to pose by the flagpole. Normally I do not go for the cheesy tourist shots.
I see why they’re hard for people to resist, though.
Bonus: the daffodils are in bloom! Ours at home are still just little shoots.
So first we checked out the cemetery. Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abe’s mother, is buried here. So are many other pioneers from that time. This area had an outbreak of “milk sickness”, which people got when they drank the milk of a cow who had ingested white snakeroot plants. A toxin accumulated in the cow’s milk and most people who got “milk sickness” died from it. Now that we know what causes it, it’s not as deadly (or common). But back then, it was just a deadly, mysterious illness.
We wrote a few answers in our booklets, then decided to head up the Trail of Twelve Stones.
There are twelve rocks, stones and/or bricks positioned along the trail and each one has some kind of significance in Lincoln’s life. For some reason, I only photographed ten of them. But we found all twelve. We also found the family’s farmsite, which has a little monument on it.
I guess during the summer months, they have people working on the farm and running it just like it would have been in Abe’s time. Today, though, it was just us and some chickens.
O7 found a nice walking stick, though. She carried it the entire rest of the way.
Here’s where the stones begin:
This is the very rock Lincoln stood on when he delivered the Gettysburg Address:
It was pretty chilly out, but the sun felt nice and the cool air was refreshing after the long car ride.
We hiked about a mile total, which was perfect.
Then O7 insisted I photograph her at the flagpole, but with her walking stick this time.
So after steeping ourselves in the farmsite and all the stories about settling in the rugged Indiana wilderness, we briefly imagined ourselves back in a simpler, quieter time. We meditated for a while on the humble beginnings of one of our country’s most revered presidents.
And then we were quickly brought back to the present.
The kids took their books inside and finished the rest of the activities, and then we got our Junior Ranger pins. I let them each pick out a postcard, and we also bought a little souvenir activity book about Abraham Lincoln that they could do in the car.
After leaving Lincoln’s Boyhood, we drove back to Evansville and met DH at the plant. He had finished up early, so we picked him up and headed out. We did make one stop in Evansville, though. A little toy store called Toys To Treasure had caught our eye when we were planning this trip. So we detoured there before starting back. The kids had brought their wallets along just in case we were able to go there, so it was a big deal.
O7 picked out a Calico Critters Babies treehouse that she’s had her eye on for quite some time. She spent- ironically enough- all but her last Lincoln ($5) on it. But she’ still loving it days later, so no buyer’s remorse there. S8 picked out a cool locking diary, which she’s been wanting since O7 got a locking diary for her birthday last December. I keep telling O7 that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but she doesn’t seem to believe me.
Then we drove to Cincinnati, where a friend of DH’s met us for dinner. That was nice. We visited with him for a while before going one more hour north to our hotel in Wilmington for the night.
In the morning, we drove the hour to Columbus. The plan had been to go to COSI for the day, but S8 was not feeling well, so we skipped that and went to The Container Store instead. A win for me, anyway. Not sure DH agreed, but we did spent a good hour there. I found some nifty plastic storage pieces and got a million ideas for things I’d never spend that much money on (Elfa storage, anyone?!) but could probably hack if I put my mind to it.
We got a very late lunch at the Mongolian Barbecue in Easton Center and then drove home. It was evening when we got in, having hit a little snow squall near Akron. But the roads were fine, even if the visibility was lacking. We returned our little rental car, and then S8 was well and truly sick, and so here we are. Home sweet home, holed up in bed and drinking soup. It’s all good.