In parts 1 and 2, I told the epic tale of how Teresa, Beth and I went to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. This, the third and final installment, I will finish up that trip, talk about our trip to Springfield, IL to see Lincoln’s Tomb and our latest trip to Saint Louis, MO.
So when we left Washington DC and Arlington National Cemetery, we headed out and followed the GPS to take us to Gettysburg! After a few hours (we had left Washington, DC in the late evening), we arrived in Gettysburg in the early night. We stopped at a gift shop there and purchased a couple of things. I got Kohl an Abraham Lincoln picture and I picked up a confederate flag and a “Betsy Ross” flag (the one with the circle of 13 stars). The confederate flag is constantly getting me in awkward situations, but that is another blog post.
After shopping a bit, we set off to drive around the battlegrounds. We went into areas that were “closed after 10PM” and really didn’t see anything because of the fact that it was night and there was no lighting whatsoever! After driving around for a while, we decided to get on the road back home again. Driving around Gettysburg late at night with no lights and low hanging fog made for a really interesting and creepy drive. We all expected for a ghostly apparition to appear out of the fog at any moment. It was a little alarming, especially to me, who was driving!
After a few hours, we finally got off of the small country roads and back onto the interstate and was heading home. Hours of driving later and I had talked Teresa into getting her number ported over to AT&T and on a family share plan with me. She decided that we should stop in Chicago at the Apple Store and get her an iPhone. We GPS’d the Apple Store and found that with traffic in the city and no parking, we would just get it in Madison.
We left Chicago and headed for Madison where we were going to go to the Apple Store and get it all squared away. At this point, we were working on fumes sleep-wise. The Apple Store said that they couldn’t port the number and that she would have to go to an AT&T store to get setup. We trekked over to the AT&T store in Madison and they couldn’t port the number either. After a lot of talking, she decided to just get a new number. After all that, she finally had her new iPhone 3GS.
Finally at this point we were on our way home and made it in the early evening. It was a long trip, but well worth every minute of it!
Less than a week later and we were off on another epic journey. We decided that we had seen where Abraham Lincoln breathed his last breath, we should see where he was buried. Teresa didn’t accompany, but Beth, Kohl (who loves Lincoln) and I went to Springfield, IL to go and see it!
We left mid-morning and didn’t get there until like 3-4PM. We were able to go inside and see his actual tomb and the burying place of his wife and two of his three sons. It was really cool. We also looked at the receiving vault where his body was originally stored when it arrived at the cemetery.
We headed home after this and didn’t arrive until early morning (like 1-2AM). It was a really fun 3 weeks of my life in early September of 2009.
Jump ahead 10 months and we had planned another epic road trip to Saint Louis for when my friend Laura came to visit from California. We left at around 8:30AM and drove through Prairie du Chien to Dubuque, IA. On the way to Prairie du Chien (PdC), we were diverted to this bridge where this barge was stuck a couple of days earlier. Alex told us that this bridge was a “little scary” when, in fact, it was TERRIFYING!!!! First off, the speed limit was 25 on the bridge and the car was going 65! The bridge was also steep, made of iron grate and it had been raining in the morning, which made it very slick! Slowing down from 65 to 25, even on this grade, was hard as I didn’t want to skid off the side of the road and into the Mississippi River. We barely survived and the down side of the bridge was steep as well with a very short amount of road before a T junction that we had to stop at! The worst part of this whole thing, was that to get to our destination, we had to turn around and go BACK OVER IT!!!
We did and it was ok, but I don’t think I want to ever go on this bridge again. We made it to Dubuque and went on the Fenelon Place Elevator. It is basically a very steep railway that is pulled to the top of a hill and you can see all of Dubuque, IA from it.
After that, we left the area and drove for hours until we got hungry and ate at the Cracker Barrel in Lincoln, IL. We made some jokes about how it was the “nigger box”. Please don’t hate me, it was a joke like sitting in the “black of the bus”. It was pretty good food.
We eventually got to Saint Louis, MO and checked into our hotel and then headed down to the Gateway Arch. We parked in this parking structure that we had to enter from an alternate entrance because the real entrance was under water as the river was flooding. After we parked, we went to the Arch and visited the museum under the Arch and realized that we couldn’t get tickets for the elevator to the top of the Arch. We checked out the area and went outside (which, by the way was like 90 with 80% humidity) and hung out under the Arch in the grass and looked up at it.
I was also looking forward to meeting Mark, a guy that I had met online through YouTube, DailyBooth and Twitter. We eventually met up with him and his boyfriend Bobby. They were super nice and gave us some good tips about Saint Louis. After we met up with them and parted ways, we went to this outdoor garden area and checked it out, then headed back to the garage and the hotel.
The next morning, we went to the Waffle House where I had the best waffles of my life as well as the first time that I had grits. Alex was mortified that I put sugar on them to make them sweet. We finished up there and headed back to the Gateway Arch to see it in the daytime. It was hot and humid again and the line to get tickets was WAY too long, so we took some pictures and then headed off to see the Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant Farms just outside of Saint Louis.
This is where it started to become a mess navigation wise. First, the GPS wasn’t very clear and we ended up going over the river and into East Saint Louis, which, if you didn’t know, is the GHETTO!! Beth, Alex and Laura were terrified and thought we were going to be murdered. I thought it was funny and didn’t feel in danger at all, but they did. The GPS couldn’t help us because the bridge that it directed us to was closed for construction and there were no good detour signs. We eventually got far enough away that the GPS took us another route and we were on the road again.
Not for long! We were detoured off of the freeway and onto the side streets where the GPS was trying to take us back to the freeway. Eventually, we got to the farm and it was awesome. The only cost was the $11 for parking and then the tram that toured the grounds, the Clydesdales and everything else was free. It was like a zoo there. They had a lot of animals that were free range during the tram tour. It was pretty cool. We finally left Saint Louis after we had to deal with the whole freeway thing again. On the way back, we stopped at the Lincoln Tomb again because Laura hadn’t seen it and it was on our way home. She liked it. It was too late to go inside like we did last time, but it was fun anyway.
We got home around 2AM and we had to be up at 8AM to leave for the Wisconsin Dells and Noah’s Ark. We left at like 9:30AM. It was a nice drive to the Dells and we had a blast at the park. There isn’t anything really to mention about Noah’s Ark other than the famous sunscreen conversation with Alex. “If you guys aren’t re-applying, then I won’t either.” Guess who came home a lobster and had a “beater burn” from his wife beater that he was wearing?
The next day we took Laura back to Minneapolis and the airport where on the way home my front driver side tire blew out (thankfully right at the off-ramp to my house).
I may have left out some details, but this is just a basic summary of the last two summers and the adventures that I have been on. There are going to be a couple more like this in the future and I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated on them.