Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thoughts on the Recent Road Trip

Finally got to do a lot of the Abraham Lincoln-oriented stuff at Springfield, Illinois...Despite the great Lincoln-era restorations and interactive museum, I was affected more at Eureka, Illinois, by the modest Ronald Reagan Peace Garden at his alma mater Eureka College. Just a simple bust of Reagan and a section of the Berlin Wall with a plaque containing his famous "Mr. Gorbachav, tear down this wall!" statement. Deeply moving -- one man can make a difference. Nice little museum there, too...Cotter, Arkansas, is a unique place. Set in a deep valley with a beautiful 1930 highway bridge and a railroad bridge with a nice park and big spring that serves as a city swimming hole. Simple railroad memorial honors Cotter's one-time role as a major railroad division point with names of old railroaders. Must be some stories behind their nicknames: "Big Mike," "Little Mike," and, most interestingly, "Open Throttle"...Pontiac, Illinois, has done a great job of preserving its Route 66 heritage with murals and a new Pontiac-Oakland car museum (which included a descendant of Chief Pontiac at its recent grand opening). Town is a time warp: nice old homes on quiet tree-shaded streets (many displaying American flags [and one with a Tea Party yard sign], a big city park reached by pedestrian suspension bridges over a river, and something one rarely sees any more: children riding bikes and playing along the streets. Don't they have computers or something to keep them busy? We bought 25-cent lemonades from three little boys running a sidewalk stand under the watchful eyes of their parents. To my knowledge, the municipal authorities, the State of Illinois, nor the FDA, FTC, EPA, nor Homeland Security have yet made any attempt to shut them down...Speaking of which, came across a left-leaning newspaper in Springfield claiming that all that Illinois corn we were seeing raises the humidity and that combined with heat kills people. As a result, paper says (and to quote Dave Berry, I am not making this up) cornfields should be regulated by the EPA...Benefit of the internet is reconnecting with old friends. Got together with some of the gang from the old neighborhood in suburban Detroit. Despite absences which in some cases exceed thirty years, we always pick up where we left off...

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