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Archive for July, 2012

“Abilene, Prettiest Town I Ever Seen”

Okay, so Abilene isn’t the prettiest town that we have ever seen, but apparently someone wrote a song with those lyrics and since we went to Abilene, Kansas, today…. Actually, Abilene, Kansas, is not somewhere we would choose to live. It sits out in the middle of the Kansas fields and looks sad, certainly not pretty. There are some lovely old Victorian-style homes there, but they aren’t enough to encourage us to live there.

So, what were we doing in Abilene, Kansas, you ask? Abilene happens to be the place where President Dwight Eisenhower was born and raised so we stopped to visit his presidential library/museum and also took a tour of his childhood home. President Eisenhower’s parents added indoor plumbing to the home in the early 1900’s, converting a bedroom to a bathroom. President Eisenhower was one of seven brothers raised in a not very big house.

President Eisenhower’s boyhood home

Front parlor

Back parlor -President Eisenhower’s grandfather made the blanket on the chaise lounge, and his mother made the pillows.

President Eisenhower’s mother made all seven of her sons take piano lessons on the piano below. Some of her sons enjoyed the piano, some didn’t. President Eisenhower quit the lessons as soon as his mother would let him.

Very cool piano in back parlor

Statue of President Eisenhower

1914 Rauch and Lang Electric car owned by President Eisenhower’s mother-in-law and frequently driven by President Eisenhower.

D-Day planning table (see next picture below)

The weather in the Midwest is miserable right now. Not only are they in a drought, but the temperature is over 100 degrees; 111 degrees today to be exact. That’s hot for southern Nevada with no humidity; it’s even worse with humidity.

We also found a new favorite frozen custard place:  Freddy’s.  Sorry Culver’s, but Freddy’s beats you in our taste test.

Tomorrow we head to Colorado where it should be cooler and less humid. Sadly, our journey will soon end and another vacation will be behind us.


We’re heading west!

Today we started the trek west. We are staying tonight in Kansas City, Missouri, where the LDS church has a brand new temple that just opened in May. We stopped there to take a picture. Hopefully, we will have more pictures to share tomorrow when we make our last history stop.

LDS Temple – Kansas City, Missouri

Likin’ Lincoln

Yesterday we traveled south to Springfield, Illinois. We are through traveling east and tomorrow we will start the trek back to the west. We toured Abraham Lincoln’s home and the presidential museum in downtown Springfield. No pictures were allowed to be taken in the museum so we have nothing to share from that site. Several pieces of furniture from the home are original to the Lincolns. Some pieces have been lost forever. The Lincoln’s bed was sold and later destroyed in the 1871 Chicago fire. The street that the Lincolns lived on is not accessible by car so we were able to walk up and down the street and learn about their neighbors since those homes have also been restored. Most, if not all, of the original street is still intact. Enjoy our day by looking at the below pictures.

Front of President Lincoln’s Home in Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln home, side view


Abraham Lincoln’s parlor

Below is another view of Lincoln’s parlor.  The tour guide told us that President Lincoln was lying on the couch in this picture when members of the Republican convention knocked on his door to tell him that he had just been nominated as a candidate for President of the United States.  Lincoln had no idea–he hadn’t expressed an interest in it nor had he campaigned for the nomination.

Lincoln Parlor (another view)


Lincoln’s Sitting Room

Sitting Room (another view)

This bed was actually used by the Lincoln family.

President Lincoln would work for up to ten hours a day at the desk below.  One evening he spilled ink on the desk and went to bed without cleaning it.  The next morning when Mrs. Lincoln saw the ink on the desk, she picked it up and threw it out the front door, breaking off two of the legs.  The desk is shorter now than when President Lincoln used it.  Check out the wallpaper and carpet – quite a combination!

President Lincoln’s Desk

Indoor Plumbing?

Dining Room Table

The kitchen below is fairly small compared to the size of the house.  Mrs. Lincoln came from a wealthy family and had always lived in homes with formal dining rooms.  She had the original kitchen cut down to make room for the dining room in the picture above.



Mary Lincoln cooked on this stove.

Lincoln’s Outhouse

Inside the outhouse – a three seater. Things that make you say, “Huh?”




Trippin’ Down the Freeway

Today was an uneventful day of driving from Galena, Illinois, to Springfield, Illinois.  We took one small detour to drive past Edie’s first apartment as a missionary in Rockford, Illinois, and then another small detour to drive through a Culvers for frozen custard cones.  Edie threw hers on Sandy, accidentally of course, but chocolate frozen custard still became a part of Sandy’s attire.

Tomorrow will be another day of history.  Stay tuned…

Holy Humidity, Batman!

Today we journeyed to Galena, Illinois, a little town in the northwest corner of Illinois just across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa. Those of you who know us well will know that neither one of us is fond of driving across large bodies of water, but in order to get to Illinois, we had to cross the Mississippi River.

Approaching the bridge over the Mississippi River

Looking out over the river from the car

We’re happy to report that there were no tears, no swearing, and very little angst.  We’re finally getting a handle on this fear of ours.

We found Galena because we like history and discovered in our search of all things historic that Galena, Illinois, has a house that Ulysses S. Grant owned and lived in for a while. The house is mostly authentic except that a tornado tore off part of the roof several decades ago and the roof had to be replaced. Most of the furnishings in the home belonged to the Grant s. Though not owned by the Grant family any longer, the tour guide said that the ancestors of Ulysses’ still visit and even had a family reunion there not too long ago. As a side note, we actually are distant cousins of Ulysses S. Grant. Our dad’s mom was a Grant and her family and Ulysses descend from Mathew Grant who came to America in the 1600’s. That’s our claim to fame, for what it’s worth to anyone.

The tour guide told us that women in the 1800’s were an average five feet tall and men were an average five feet seven inches. Ulysses was taller than average at five feet eight inches. His wife wore a size four shoe, which was also normal for the time. After going up and down the stairs of that home we can tell you that our size eight’s dwarfed those stairs. If you have ever toured an old home or building, you know that the stairs from that time period are almost treacherous. They are steep and narrow.  Sandy said she thought about sitting down on the top step and sliding down the stairs on her butt, but then she thought, “If our shoes dwarf the steps…”

The couches in Grant’s parlor were made from real horse hair twined together with silk. He also had a built-in tub, unheard of for the time, that had a drain that went to the outside. So, even though they didn’t have indoor plumbing, they could still drain the tub without having to bail the water out. Quite a luxury for the time.

Front of Grant’s house

Side view of Grant’s house

Parlor with a very cool piano


Grant’s dining room – love the old furniture and the built-in floor-to-ceiling cupboard.

Statue of Grant’s wife, Julia Dent Grant

The tour guide told us that Mrs. Grant was very active in the women’s rights movement.  She knew and worked with Susan B. Anthony and was the first First Lady to include women in the official greeting line at the White House.

After our tour, we went to Main Street and went shopping – lots of little stores in old buildings. It’s a really cute town built on a hill with several old buildings. A sign in one of the shops where we stopped said that Galena has the oldest operating post office in the country. So while you may have never heard of Galena, Illinois, and didn’t know such a place even existed, we recommend spending a day here if you find it in your area of travel at some time.

Main Street, Galena, Illinois

By the way, Culver’s has buy one concrete mixer (frozen custard) and get one free on weekdays between 2 pm and 5 pm. We’re just sayin….

And there you have it.  We’ll be back…


Getting Our Geek On

Today we traveled four hours east from Omaha to the little town of West Branch, Iowa. Why, you ask, would we choose to travel to a place that you have never heard of? Because we are history and political nerds and a few years ago we discovered that we love presidential libraries. Library is really a misnomer; they are museums of that particular president’s life and time in office. They usually include letters that were written by the president or to the president from world leaders or other famous people. They might have clothing worn by the president and his wife or even the presidential limousines used by that president. So today we stopped at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa.

Below are a few of the pictures from the library.  The picture taker should have followed the rules and not used a flash on her camera.


Photos of President Hoover when he was a child

President Hoover with mask of his face on bottom right of picture

Lou Henry Hoover’s dresses (President Hoover’s wife)


This is our fourth library as we previously visited the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and the Reagan and Nixon Libraries in California. Hoover’s library wasn’t as extensive as the others we visited but we discovered we had something in common with him:  blue and white pottery. He had blue and white vases, plates, etc., displayed in his residence and so do we. And because of Hoover, we now have more blue and white items to display; every library has a gift shop and we always end our library tours there.


These are a few of the blue and white pieces that were displayed in Hoover’s home.


Seriously, the presidential libraries are so worth seeing.

The midwest is extremely hot right now. It has been over one hundred degrees today and added to the humidity it makes for a miserable day. It is also dry; the whole area, i.e. corn, needs rain.

We’re in for the night:

View from our hotel room window

We’ll be off and running (well probably more walking slowly with slight limps) tomorrow…

…That Ribbon of Highway…

Sandy’s son, Paul, served his mission in the South Dakota, Rapid City Mission.  As we drove around Rapid City, Sandy tried to imagine her son walking the streets looking for opportunities to teach and serve and how he must have felt leaving his family for two years to serve the Lord.  Even though those two years were difficult at times, Paul has stated that they were also very rewarding.

This picture is for Paul =]

Today we packed up and headed out of Rapid City east to Omaha, Nebraska. We didn’t expect much from today’s journey and our expectations were met. Spearfish and Rapid City, South Dakota, are in very pretty areas. After Rapid City the scenery looks a lot like Nebraska, which makes sense since South Dakota sits above Nebraska. And it wasn’t that pretty. There were a lot of brown and green fields and, unfortunately, they were very dry. The corn looks like it is dying on the stalks in some areas. Don’t know what that will do to corn prices.  We noticed that many cows were standing in small ponds up to their stomachs, probably trying to get some relief from the heat.  When we stopped to gas up the car, the temperature outside was 100 degrees, and a hot, brisk wind was blowing.

So we used the heat as an excuse to stop (again) for a lunch of Culver’s frozen custard. Life doesn’t get much better than frozen custard for lunch.

Edie has been trying to get a picture of all the Welcome signs for all the states we go through:


Part of the drive took us along side the Missouri River:

Missouri River

After finding our hotel, we went to find something to eat and got lost in a questionable part of town. It was really too bad that it was in such disrepair because there were some very fascinating old Victorian type homes that would be beautiful if they were fixed up.

Our niece, Maylene, asked us where we were going on this trip and the location of our final destination. The answer is that every day is the destination. There is no one place we are headed. We wanted to see Mt. Rushmore and accomplished that. We have a few historical spots we also want to see and as we see them, you all will find out what they are.

Best public bathroom of the day: The best public bathroom stop today was a travel center in Murdo, South Dakota. It gets a B.

And thank heavens that red-light-running incident didn’t culminate in an accident or even a ticket!

More to come…

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