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Road Trip to Naperville, Springfield and St Louis: Betsy’s Senior Dance by Ann Treacy
May 7, 2023, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Illinois, Missouri, Uncategorized

Dad and I have a tour of the Midwest going this week. We start in Naperville to see a friend of his. (OK, only dad stopped in to see his favorite high school teacher Jack Lane.) I walked around the Naperville Century Walk, a downtown riverwalk peppered with artworks. I’ll share a few pictures. The highlight was the big statue of Dick Tracy; well-place because the creator of the comic book hero is from Naperville.

We also checked out the Morton Arboretum. We have been there before. Sadly, the summer sculptures were not out yet. But we did get to see some gorgeous flowers. Even better, we got to smell them! I’ve always said the best thing about coming from Minnesota is that anywhere you go has better weather and that is doubly true this year. It was warm and spring had sprung and I could almost be tempted to move this year.

I had a work meeting in Bloomington (at the Illinois Soybean Association). Quick nod to best refurbishing of a former Gold’s Gym and nicest hospitality. I heard heartwarming stories of rural counties on the path to getting better broadband. But I’ll save those notes for my work report.


After the meeting we set out to St Louis, but not without a stop to see historical sites in Springfield. We checked out Lincoln’s family home – by that I mean with Mary Todd and their kids. Here we were given a fantastic free map that pointed out just about anything and everything you might want to see in the areas related to Lincoln.

Based on new info from the new map, we also checked out Lincoln’s Tomb. It was cook. It is a big tomb, where he and his immediate family are buried. Apparently, someone tried to snatch his body in 1876, resulting in a bunch of new laws, an onsite groundskeeper and his body moving 10 feet below ground. There’s a bronze casting of Lincoln’s face. Apparently, it’s lucky to run his nose. (I’ll report back if good luck comes my way!) Fun to see the impact of a nose rub on the statue.

St Louis

We spent a couple days in St Louis and the whole family joined. We’re all here to see my niece, Betsy, do her senior dance at St Louis University. She has completed four years of her six-year program in Physical Therapy. But with the fourth-year completion, comes the end to her Dance Minor. So we all came to watch her. You can see why below; this is the dance she choregraphed. We’ll never forget the touching note that Grandma left on Emily’s dance poster – thinking it was Betsy’s. But it was very funny.

We also got to see a few of the sites, such as Forest Park, You can see the video Katie and I made in honor of the Kentucky Derby.

We checked out some nightlife and ate a ton!

… last minute addition: Dad and I stopped in Cedar Lake, Iowa. Dad was a huge Buddy Holly fan back in the day, and remembers the day the music died. Originally we weren’t going to go this way but fates intervened and once you’re getting on 35 near Mason City, you might as well stop by the sites!

A work week in rural Illinois with Black Hawk, Joseph Smith and Abe Lincoln by Ann Treacy
March 17, 2023, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Illinois

The band is back together. I’m on the road in rural Illinois with Bill, one of my favorite work-road-trip buddies. It’s always a good mix of productive work chat, small town sight seeing, catching up and good advice. We saw a few highlights.

The tourism portion of our trip began with the Black Hawk Statue in Oregon IL. It’s quite impressive at 50 feet and is a memorial to Chief Black Hawk, Sauk leader in what is known as the Black Hawk war 1832. We also did drive-bys for the birthplace of John Deere and childhood home of Ronald Regan.

For work, I got to tour a hog farm with 60,000 hogs as well as soybean fields and processing facilities. (Thankfully, we couldn’t see the hogs because of bio-security issues. Whew!) I’ve toured hog farms before. What’s amazing is that success is made in pennies per pound. So every penny you can save in the nurturing, butchering or process of making the bacon helps and precision ag makes a big difference. Also I got to sit on big tractor. Woo!

Because we were in Carthage, we visited death place of Joseph Smith, founder of Latter Day Saints. We went to the jail where he was shot and we met by tour guides who may or may not have been dressed in period piece attire. They are clearly devotees; super informative but also a little unsettling. Here’s the abridged story (thanks to Wikipedia)…

Carthage Jail is best known as the location of the 1844 killing of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum, by a mob of approximately 150 men.

We spent time in the jail. Creepy! And saw the door through which Joseph was shot and the window through which he thrust himself to save the followers who were with him (in front of the mob) in the small room. Word is, the Smiths knew they were going to die in Carthage but were peaceful that day anticipating the murder.

Our biggest stop was the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield. It is worth av visit! The multimedia makes it feel interactive. The segment on the emancipation was particularly interesting. Even on his own team, some think he goes too far, and some think he doesn’t go far enough. There’s a hallway set up that reminds me of walking the MN Capitol when contentious topics are being discussed. No one listens; everyone shouts. It emphasizes the need to vote for people you think you will actually do the right thing when the time comes.

A striking exhibit is a bronze cast or Lincoln’s face as he started he’s presidency and five years into it. The aging is palpable. Then there are “rooms” that focus on segments of Lincoln’s life that help us see how that fast aging happened. Lincoln not only led the nation during an extremely tumultuous time but he had a lot of person tragedy happening at the same time. Hearing about his plans to focus on the positive on the day of his assassination is heartbreaking.

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