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FRIDAY - We are in Route 66 territory here in Illinois. So we decided to drive a short 15-mile section of it from Lincoln to Atlanta, not the one in Georgia, the one here in Illinois.

The Historic Route 66 parallels the modern day Interstate 55 between these two small Illinois towns and boy do I wish I had taken the Interstate. To say that Route 66 is a little bumpy would be a huge understatement.

At the intersection of Vine (aka Route 66) and Arch Streets in Atlanta, IL is where you'll find...

...the newest Route 66 themed museum who's Grand Opening is on Memorial Day next month.

They already have one giant hanging out in the side yard with space for at least three more.

This guy is just across the street and holding a giant hotdog in his hands?

Hey! Who's that photobombing my 19' foot tall friend?

OK, now that the fun stuff is done it's time to put on some miles before the weather takes a turn for the worse later this morning.

Here's another one of those boring travel day photos. At least this one has newly planted fields in the foreground, buildings filled to the rafters with caged chickens in the middle and wind turbines in the background generating electricity.

Upon arrival at Starved Rock State Park it was pouring down rain and not expected to let up in the next few hours. Guess the outside campsite photos will have to wait until tomorrow.

SATURDAY - This morning just after breakfast we headed over to the Visitor Center to basically "see what there is to see" here in the park.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, when I'm researching where it is we are going to visit I usually only research long enough to decide two things. One is if we even need to visit the location and two, try to get a feel for how long it may take to "see most everything" at that location. I guess the third thing would be to find out if I need to make arrangements for things like timed entry passes (i.e. National Parks), hiking permits, boat tours or advanced ferry tickets in the case of island camping.

Once the determination is made that we'll plan a visit somewhere I stop reseaching, so that when we arrive we're more likely to enjoy the surrounds and leave something to be surprised by that we weren't expecting. It's just what works for us! It may not work for you.

What my preliminary research revealed about Starved Rock State Park is that it is unanimously regarded as the "Premiere State Park" in all of Illinois, according to the few websites I use to get information on state parks. I don't rely on the State Parks websites for information, otherwise according to them, EVERY state park is somewhere you need to visit.

What our Visitor Center outing this morning taught us is first, you don't want to visit Starved Rock State Park on the weekend, this is true of most state parks. The weekend, even in the shoulder season like it is here and now, is filled with locals and travelers alike on the trails, so is the campground by the way.

Starved Rock is known for their hiking trails, all 13-miles of them. They offer views of waterfalls, canyons and high overlooks of the Illinois River.

All the trails are listed as easy to moderate, so that's why they're so popular. Today at 10:00AM the huge parking lots were already half filled with mostly Illinois licence tagged vehicles. Younger people and young familys seemed to make up most of the crowd today. We're hoping tommorow may be a little less crowded so we can get out and hike.

SUNDAY - It's been raining here for the last two days, mostly at night, and we haven't really been able to do much outdoorwise.

We're just glad we're not getting the same weather that's occuring 400-miles west of here in Iowa and Nebraska. Tornados have also been devastating the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas. There have been 138 tornados reported over the last 48-hours in these 6 states.

The town of Sulphur, OK was torn apart last night by a large tornado. If you remember, we were just there two weeks ago.

I'll be happy to deal with the winds and rain here, just keep the hail and tornados away from us.

We did manage to get out of THE POD today and do one of the shorter hikes.

The Starved Rock Trail is only .6-mile round trip, but it's all uphill (125') until you turn around to head back.

The name "Starved Rock" is derived from an Indian legend about a village of indians coming under attack and they sought refuge on top of this rock. The attacking indians surrounded the rock and prevented the indians from getting food or water. Eventually the entire village perished from starvation on top of the rock.

Although it's a pretty gruesome legend, no one has ever been able to substantiate it with facts.



The trail starts out flat and simple from behind the Visitor Center.

Then the paved path starts gradually heading uphill.

Next to approach the first set of stairs.

Around the corner you'll immediately be presented with the next set of stairs.

The top of the second set of stairs leaves you just short of the top of the rock.

From up here you get a bird's eye view of the Starved Rock Lock and Dam.

There's a small loop in the trail on top of the rock...

...but eventually what goes up, must come down! Back to the parking lot that is.

Back down on the ground be found the parking lot surrounded by Canadian Geese.

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THURSDAY - Knowing that we would be traveling mostly over Interstate 72 and then Interstate 55 today and not seeing anything too interesting other than a lot of farm and ranch lands, I scouted out a couple of sightseeing opportunities in the town where we'll be spendng the night.

As you can see in the first photo we were heading through downtown Hannibal just before 11:00AM this morning.

A few minutes later and we were crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois and weren't too surprised when the first gasoline price we saw was $3.68 and that was at Walmart's Murphy USA Station which is usually the cheapest price around.

Goodbye Hannibal, until next time!

Just before we approached the state capitol of Springfield, we pulled off the Interstate and found a Steak-n-Shake restaurant to have lunch. Afterwards it was time to return to the Interstate and press on to our destination in Lincoln, IL.

The town of Lincoln, IL has the distinction of being the only town in the entire country named for and christened by Abraham Lincoln "before" he became our 16th President (1861-1865), lots of places were named Lincoln after he was elected and achieved national fame.

Lincoln, IL was planned and surveyed from 1852-1853 and Abraham Lincoln provided legal services to the town’s planners.

On August 27, 1853, the first lots of land in the new town were sold. Abraham Lincoln was on hand to officially christen the town, which had been named in his honor. As Lincoln did not drink alcohol, the juice of a watermelon was sprinkled on the ground to christen the town.

Located right next door to the Amtrak Station in Lincoln, IL you'll find...

...the Lincoln Watermelon Monument, which now commemorates this slightly odd moment.

The Historic Route 66 cuts right through the downtown areas of Lincoln, IL which explains a couple of oddities that can be found here.

First up is this photo of the town's fire station. See anything odd in the photo?

It's not the fact that they appear to be installing a new roof, but you're close!

YES! That is a phone booth up there on the roof.

This is not just a prank, it was actually manned by the firefighters in the 1960s during inclement weather to observe and warn the townspeople of impending dangerous weather, especially tornados. I'll bet they're glad about all the modern advancements in weather prediction we've made over the last 60-years.

In case you were wondering, NO a phone is no longer located inside of the booth on the roof.

One last item we explored before arriving at our destination is certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World’s Largest Covered Wagon". I think they better revisit that decision, because today it is not covered at all. However I did find a photo online from as recent as September of 2023 where there was a cover on it.

I guess they only cover the wagon during special events or holidays?

At 25' tall and 40' long it's still pretty large, larger than THE POD.

Who's that driving? Why it's nothing other than that lawyer fellow, Abraham Lincoln.

Just around the corner from the covered wagon is the only Walmart Supercenter location in Lincoln, IL and our destination for tonight.

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I used to play the Wordle Unlimited Game nearly every day and had over 2150 games played with a 98.37% win record.

Then my computer had a major malfunction and erased all my online Wordle data, which left me so disheartened I ceased playing. That was nearly a year ago now.

A little over two months ago I decided to return to playing just the daily Wordle Game.

Now after two months my record is a PERFECT 68-0 and today's word nearly stumped me.

I think if I wouldn't have guessed ROVER for today's puzzle and lost, I could have very easily quit playing again.

Wasting no time, shortly after getting set up, we headed up to the Gift Shop and purchased tickets to go tour the Mark Twain Cave.



In 1890 they created this pedestrian friendly entrance to the cave using dynamite.

The cave consists of numerous passageways laid out like a city street grid pattern.

Some of the passageways are 100' tall.

There are estimated to be 250,000 signatures adorning the cave walls.

The signature in the center of this photo has been authenticated to be that of
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain), the great American writer and humorist.

Clemens was known to explore the cave while he lived in Hannibal betweens ages 4 and 18.

Here is one of the passageway intersections.

Not sure who this is supposed to be but other artwork can also be found on the cave walls.



Here our tour guide, Bobbie, shares more Mark Twain stories relating to the cave.

There are few cave formations to be found in this cave, but here are the best.

OK, time to find our way out of this maze of a cave.

WEDNESDAY - For our second and final day here in Hannibal, MO we're going to tour the boyhood home of it's most famous historical resident, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain).

For a small fee you'll be able to take a self-guided tour of several historical buildings that are featured in Mark Twain's famous books, namely The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.



This model of a sculpture that never was made is found in the Interpretive Center.

Next door is the modest boyhood home of Tom Blankenship (aka Huckleberry Finn).

I'm not sure why the pathway brought us in through the back door?

This is the front door facing the street, complete with the address.

This huge stone wall was erected between the rear of Mark Twain's home and a lumber yard
as a fire break in the event there was a fire at the lumber yard.

Inside of Mark Twain's Boyhood Home.




The front of Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, MO.

Right across the street is the childhood home of Laura Hawkins (aka Becky Thatcher).

In keeping with the Mark Twain theme of this visit we ate lunch at the Mark Twain Dinette.

After lunch, while we were still in the parking lot for the Interpretive Center, I asked one of the volunteers who was taking care of some yard maintenance if the lighthouse I saw way up on the hill above town was accessible to the public.

He said, "Sure! You can either walk up the several dozen flights of stairs using the public pathway over there (pointing) OR you can drive up to a little known 2-car hidden parking lot right at the back of the lighthouse".

I thanked him and then climbed into ROVER and started our drive up to the lighthouse.

In front of the lighthouse is the regular parking lot for the public,
but there are still several flights of stairs if you start from here like Tricia did.

I drove all the way up to the base of the back of the lighthouse
and took one of the two parking spots I found there.

The front of the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

This is the rear view of the lighthouse.

Now that the in-town sightseeing for today is complete, it's time to go and fill ROVER's gas tank with $3.05 Missouri gasoline before we cross the bridge into Illinois tomorrow where gasoline is reported to be $3.86 for the same gallon of gas. OUCH! Multiply that by our 36-gallon tank and that's a pretty big chuck of change.

The same volunteer also told us the best view of the Mississippi River and the town of Hannibal is from a location called Lovers Leap just outside of town.

It's on the way back to the campground so we drove up and took a look for ourselves.

They had a cool metal art piece for lovers to hang a padlock with their names on it.
As you can see in the background some people still chose to place their padlock on the fence.

Lovers Leap is where legend tells us a pair of young indians from opposing tribes
leapt to their deaths instead of living separated by the elders.

The view of the Mississippi River and Hannibal from the south.

There's the lighthouse hidden up among the trees.

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