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Sat. April 26 to Fri. May 2- Westminster CO to South Bend IN

Saturday- We left the Elks Lodge at around 9:15, driving east on Rt. 36 to I-225, to I-70. Right at the intersection of I-225 and I-70 the tire monitor alarmed, so we quickly pulled into a TA truck stop and Bob found that the tire(on the car) we had repaired last week had too much air. So he let out some air and we continued on our way east.

The ride was fine, with us stopping at a rest area to eat lunch. It was nice at the picnic table, but the wind had picked up. I started driving and finally became sleepy ,so we pulled off at an exit, stopped at the stop sign, changed drivers and continued on our way. Right after Bob took over the wind really picked up. According to Weather Bug, the winds were 14-16 mph, with gusts to 21 mph.

We seriously thought about stopping at a TA and just boon-docking for the night in Colby Kansas, but it was only another hour and a half drive to Ellis, our planned destination. Bob thought that he could make it, so we just slowed down from our cruising speed of 62 mph to 55. At one point the wind really picked up and was hitting the side of the motor home, so he slowed to 50 mph for the rest of the trip. We drove into the town owned,  Lakeside RV park, at 5:30( we had lost an hour moving to Central time zone) , set up camp, walked the dogs,and ate dinner. We lucked out and pulled into site 1, our preference, as it is flat and has clearance for the satellite. $15 for 30 amp/water. You just park and the town cop comes by later and collects your money.

We decided to only pay for one night, but may stay for two, depending upon the weather. We are just barely inside the ‘the red tornado warning’ area. In our site, we are also closest to the tornado shelter at the local church, half a block away. We will check the weather again in the morning to decide if we are going to stay another day or continue on to St. Joseph MO, our next planned stop.

Sunday- We woke up late for us at around 7:30. We quickly checked the weather forecast and decided to stay put. Thunderstorms all day with winds to 20-30mph with gusts to 50 mph. Ugly forecast to our east, with tornado’s forecasted!

We did our usual updating of the budget. Bob fixed the closet door, as one of the wheels had come off my side. He also washed the windshield, which really needed to be de-bugged!

We left Ellis, taking Rt. 40 east to Hays, about 12 miles. Hays is the largest town in NW Kansas, with a population of 20,000 people. Ellis only has 2,000. We stopped for lunch at  Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company. Bob had the beer brat with chips and I had the meatloaf sandwich with stout onion rings . Both were really good. Gella’s is an International Beer winner

Lunch

Who would have thought to find a place like this in the middle of nowhere Kansas! It is located in the old part of town, taking up 4 stores. It was a very nice restaurant and Bob liked the beer. It is going on our list of favorite restaurants!

After lunch, we went to the Historical Society, as we could not find the Welcome Center. We picked up a few brochures. Next door was the Volga-German Haus.

Hays KS

Many of the residents of Ellis County are descendants of German immigrants who came from the Volga River region of Russia They left Germany to go to Russia, following the end of the Seven Years War in 1768. They were invited to immigrate to Russia by Catherine the Great, who was born in Germany and was the leader of Russia at the time.

From 1763 to 1768, many Germans left their homeland, traveled to Russia and built villages along the Volga River. Nearly 200 towns and villages were established in Russia and the German immigrants prospered. In 1874, the reigning czar, began to remove the privileges Catherine the Great had promised the Volga-Germans. Consequently, the Volga-Germans began to search for a new homeland.

In 1875, a scouting party of five men came to America to look for a place to moved. The climate, soil, and living conditions suitable for their farming lifestyle in this area seemed to be perfect for their needds . These scouts found the Kansas plains similar to the steppes region of Russia, and a large number of the Volga-Germans decided to migrate to America.

In October and November of 1865 many of these immigrants left their villages along the Volga River and traveled to Saratov Russia to begin their journey to America. The The first Volga-Germans arrived in Hays in mid-February 1876. Brrr, seems like they should have waited for better weather!

The Volga-German Haus is a replica of the size and type of home early Volga-German settlers built. When the first immigrants arrived to established their villages, they quickly constructed small dug-out sod shelter. The ground would be excavated to the depth of 3 ft., with the prairie sod blocks used to form the walls.

The sod shelters were used until a more permanent house of native limestone rock could be built. This house was built from information obtained through diaries and other documentation passed down to descendants and is furnished with authentic household items. the exterior of the home is made of the native post rock limestone that was quarried in Ellis County. the interior contains two rooms, a small room containing the “mud stove” and the cooking utensils, and a large room that served as the living, dining and sleeping area.

The first Catholic church in Hays was a simple wooden frame church that was 42 ft. long and 22 ft. wide, built in March 1879. In 1886, the foundation was laid for a larger church and was completed by Christmas 1886. The parish continued to grow, and November 1901, the cornerstone of this church was laid. This is St. Joseph’s.

St. Joseph's Church Hays KS

We returned to Ellis and stopped at the Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home.

Walter P. Chrysler boyhood home, Ellis KS

We also went to the cemetery to see the iron cross markers.

Steel grave markers, Ellis KS

Because wood was available and less expensive than granite or marble, the first burial markers for the Volga-Germans were simple wooden crosses. However, with the strong Kansas winds, storms and problems with the wood rotting, some of the local Volga-German blacksmiths began to craft wrought iron crosses. These iron cross grave markers proved to be more durable, and by using crap metals in their shop, the men could make these crosses rather inexpensively. The techniques varied from community to community Most are made of twin steel pipes, bent and joined to form the main structure of the cross and rounded off with U-shaped joints. There were only three at this cemetery, but there are 110 at the cemetery in Victoria, about 23 miles away.

Monday-  We woke up early, 6 AM and Bob checked the weather forecast. Windy all week. We are under a high wind warning, but no tornado’s expected. So we decided to leave anyway, since the wind is coming from the west. We should have a nice tailwind, improving our miles per gallon!

We left at about 7:10, heading east on I-70. The wind was about 21 mph, but pushing us, so it was a nice drive. By the time I took my driving shift, the wind had died down. We had a pleasant drive to St. Joseph MO. We are staying at A OK RV Park  $25/night, FHU 50 amp. We have not stayed at this park before, but it is convenient to Bob’s brother Joe.

At 6 we met Joe at Cheddars, a mid-west restaurant chain. We had a nice dinner and spent time talking. Bonnie was working so she could not be there with us. Here is a picture of Joe on his 60th birthday, a few weeks ago.

Joe's 60th

That is niece Brandy and Nephew Aaron with great niece Rory and great nephew Jack.

Tuesday- It is raining! The weather is a cold wet 40’s to 50’s. We ran into town to go to Menards. We found some Mohawk flooring which is on sale for about $2.50 less per sq. ft. Hope we can find the same items in Indiana. We went to Walmart, then stopped at a place called the 54th Street Grill. We walked in and walked out. It smelled too much like smoke.

We went to Perkins for lunch, where we brought the average age down to about 90! A lot of regulars there. The food and service were good.

We returned home and took a nap At 6, we met Tom and Juanita Schenlle at Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We had a great time catching up with them. We left at around 8:20, returned home and went to bed.

Wednesday- Sunshine, at least temporality. We went to leave and Bob was short of breath. He checked his heart rate but it was normal. I drove anyway. We went south on I-25 to Rt. 36 east. Rt. 36 is a nice four lane road. We traveled all the way to Hannibal MO. We crossed the bridge over the Mississippi. We stopped for a potty break and Bob realized that he was having A-fib. We think he had been popping in and out of A-fib all day. He turned the driving back over to me and we continued on our way to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Campground where we were planning to spend the night. We have a nice 50 amp, FHU site for $20/night. We are only staying one night.

We parked, walked the dogs, and took off for downtown. Our first stop was at  the visitor center for the National Park Service Visitor Center for Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield IL.

Springfield IL 4/30/2014

Interesting, Robert Taft Lincoln gave the home to the federal government in the 1880’s. When he did, he stipulated that the home be cared for and that it be open to the public at no cost. They do charge $2 for parking, but no fee to take the tour.

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When the Lincolns first moved into the house, it looked more like this.

House like what Abe Lincoln moved into when married.

But as Lincoln became more prosperous, they expanded the house.

Lincoln house parlor with original furniture

Above is the parlor. Below is the added parlor. Originally it was their bedroom and where Mary Todd Lincoln delivered her sons. Once they added the second floor, the room became an addition to the parlor. It is where Abe was formally asked by the newly formed Republican Party to run for president.

Second part of parlor Lincoln HOuse

Next was where the dining room.

Lincoln dining room

Lincoln family room.

Above is the family room. Abe spent most of his time on the floor with the kids, as the furniture was so uncomfortable. To the far tight is Mary Todd Lincolns sewing table, it is under the mirror. To the left  is a Stereopticon, on the table, this was a way to look at pictures which Abe used all the time. Up the narrow, steep stairs, was Abe’s bedroom. His bed is 6’11” long, long for those days.

Lincolns bed, 6'11"

Lincoln chest

Lincoln's desk where he wrote speeches

Lincoln's wardrobe

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We moved through another door to Mary’s bedroom.

Lincoln's grooming items

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Then on to the boys bedroom.

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The upstairs hallway was just painted, there was no wallpaper, as guests did not see this area. There were a total of 6 bedrooms, the last of which was the maids room. We then walked down the back stairway to the kitchen. This is Mary’s stove which Abe bought for her.

Mary Todd Lincolns stove

Mary liked to bake, but wasn’t a very good cook. The kitchen was small and it must have been really hot in the summer in this small room!

We continued outside to the outhouse. Note, it is a three seater,  all of which are different sizes.

Lincoln's outhouse

Looking back at the house, the porch area is where they took baths! Outside, but then everyone in this time frame took their baths outside.

Back of the house 

This was the carriage house.

Carriage House

The National Park Service, over the years, purchased all of the various buildings in a four block radius. The area had deteriorated and the Park Service has renovated all of the houses. They had a lot of pictures to work from.

We returned to the Visitor Center and watched a 15 minute movie on Lincoln’s life, prior to the presidency. It was really interesting.

Here is the Capitol of Illinois.  The statue is Abe.

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It was getting late, as all of the areas close at 5, so our next stop was at Lincoln’s grave.

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We had no idea that it was going to be so ornate! The round area at the bottom, in the front, is a rotunda with marble columns.

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There are 16 of these columns, which recognize that Lincoln was the 16th president. The black grill at the top represents corn, as Lincoln came from a farming state.

There was a short presentation by a docent about the grave site. At one point, a couple of idiots decided to steal Lincolns body to hold it for ransom. The top of the sarcophagus was so heavy, that they could not move it and ended up breaking it. So now he is buried underneath the marker, in cement. The building has had to be renovated two different times due to the earth shifting.

We left the rotunda and walked down a long hallway. There are various statues of Lincoln, but different artists, depicting various times in his life. Lincoln is buried to the back, behind the rotunda. Originally, people came by the tomb around the back and could look through a window at the sarcophagus, but due to the idiots, the entire building is enclosed.

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Three of his sons and Mary are buried in the wall, across from Lincoln.

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Then you leave this area and move to the next area, where there is a memorial to Robert.

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Robert planned to be buried in the family crypt, but his wife decided that he should be buried in Arlington Cemetery, so that he could be recognized for his own accomplishments. She also hated Mary! Robert did very well for himself, becoming an Ambassador to England. He also became very wealthy.

We walked back around the square of the building to walk back out through the rotunda. We went outside to rub Lincoln’s nose, which is supposed to be for good luck!

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Notice that his nose is rubbed clear of the black of the bust and is a bright gold color.

We had been lucky and caught the last tour of the grave. We returned to the motor home, at dinner and went to bed after a very long day!

There is so much to see in Springfield that we will have to return in the future!

Thursday- We continued east, on I-72 to 57 north, into Indiana. We drove north to Rt. 26, then east before driving north again to Hwy. 6 and our designation of Pla-more RV Park in Bremen IN, $30/night with one night free, FHU 50 amp. We will be staying here for 11 nights. Because we lost an hour with changing time zones, we arrived at 5:30. We set up camp and went to The Wooden Peel, for very good pizza, in downtown Bremen. Bremen is a small town which bills itself as “A Nice Town”. Well yah, it is…. We returned home and went to bed.

Friday- We went to South Bend to Walmart and to get gas, $ 3.63, per gallon. We stopped by The Foundry, the apartment building where we will be staying. We met with Chris, the manager. She took us on a tour of building 1. That is where the mailboxes are, the exercise room, and the media room are located.  We will be staying in building 2. We filled in the car form. We left there and went to Mishawaka. We stopped at Jersey Mikes for subs, then went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore looking for 6” PVC pipe. Bob wants a small piece to use to store the sewer tubing extension. This is our second stop at a Restore. The first had 4” pipe and this one had 2” pipe. We will keep looking….

We returned home to the motor home. We then took a nice nap! We had a quiet dinner at home and watched TV.

One Response

  1. Did you go to the Lincoln Museum?? It is fantastic!! We also saw the Lincoln home and burial site when we were in Springfield. Hope we can see you sometime on our trip. Glenda travelswithglenda.wordpress.com

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