We’ve been in the Airstream for about a week now and overall things are going great. The kids are adapting nicely and not surprisingly, it is me who is having to adjust the most. I like(d) my couple of hours of quiet at night after Hayes and Mabry were in bed, and I don’t get that now but it is okay. I will adjust!
After leaving Houston we spent a few nights at Livingston State Park. Our main purpose was to pick Mabry up from camp, have a day to catch up with her and do laundry, and then see Benjamin’s mom and sister to say goodbye. Mabry’s friend (who she attended camp with) and her family came to see the Airstream and hang out for a few hours after camp pick ups, which was really fun. All you need are hammocks and food for a good time!
From Livingston we headed to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a stopover as we head North and our campground was right across the river from the Clinton Library. It was built in a formerly industrial area and seems to have revitalized that part of town. You can cross the river on a bridge which is now pedestrian/cyclist only. We even saw a tugboat and barges pass under the bridge as we were on the highest point. The library is housed in a contemporary building and has a lot of the Clinton papers as well as bits about his presidency and some of the gifts the Clintons received while in office. One Christmas, Hillary commissioned Chihuly glass sculptures as part of the decor, and one of those lives in the Library.
Continuing North, we stayed for two nights in St Louis. We went to this incredible place called City Museum (thanks for the rec, Allison!) which wasn’t a museum so much as a figment of a very creative persons imagination. You could climb on everything, go into tunnels which lead to slides and airplanes cantilevered over the side of the building. Everything was sculpted or welded and it is really hard to describe! Our pictures don’t do it justice. We also went to the top of the Gateway Arch, which was built in the 50’s-early 60’s as a monument to westward expansion. It is 630 feet tall, designed by Eero Saarinen. The tram to the top felt space aged and M & H were nervous because it was a bit shaky but by the time they were on the top they were flinging themselves onto the window ledges which made my stomach drop! We timed it to see the sunset and could also see a Cardinals game below which was neat. They completed their Junior Ranger packet and when we left the underground center the full moon was out! It was an awesome surprise.
We were planning to head to Chicago from there but made a change of plans and stayed in Springfield, Illinois for four nights. Even though it is the capitol, there didn’t seem to be much traffic and it was nice to be in the same place for a few nights. We camped at the Fair Grounds and went to a Farmers Market on our first night, but had to hurry out when a strong storm blew in because we had left the awning out and didn’t want the wind to damage it! Springfield was Abraham Lincoln’s family home before he went to the White House and the town makes the most of that. The Museum is really informative and showcases his early years as well as his years in Washington. They also have two short films, one using holograms to interesting effect. I was surprised to learn that, after losing three of her four sons and also her husband, Mary Lincoln was committed to a mental hospital by her remaining son. After three months she engineered her ‘escape’ by writing letters to certain people and to avoid embarrassment they declared her okay to leave. She returned to Springfield to live with her sister. Hearing about Mary’s life makes me want to read more about her. We also toured the Lincoln family home which has been restored to the period and has quite a bit of their actual furniture. They bought the originally one story home for $1,500 and added on a few times over the years, ending up with a two story house. The house was rented out while the Lincolns were in the White House, which was an atypical thing to do. Visiting Lincolns tomb rounded out our day and we now know more than we ever planned to know about this president!
I’ve always been interested in the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright and Benjamin and I have toured a few of his buildings. Springfield has one of his largest residential commissions, the Dana-Thomas House, built in the early 1900’s. It is a 12,000 square foot home built by a wealthy woman who gave him a ‘blank check.’ There is a large amount of furniture and lighting and so much stained glass that is original to the home. Hayes’s favorite element was the basement bowling alley, and Mabry really enjoyed the library. The house also had the homeowners original hair dryer and straightener, powered by gas. Can you imagine having a flame so close to your hair?!
After Springfield, we headed towards Wisconsin and our plans unexpectedly changed…while we were driving on the interstate B noticed that the truck wasn’t acting normally. We were in a construction zone and thank goodness he came upon a soft shoulder that he could pull off on, and as he slowed the truck it died completely. Not good. While he was on hold for roadside assistance, a Wisconsin Department of Transportation tow truck pulled up behind us. He was a Godsend and had such a can-do attitude. He wanted to get us off the side of the road and into a parking lot but he and B had to figure out how he could tow our whole rig! We have a specialized Hensley hitch which doesn’t work like a typical hitch, so Benjamin had to remove all 100 lbs of that (as cars were speeding by). Picture our truck up on the flatbed of the tow truck and the Airstream being pulled behind. I wish I took a picture. Hayes thought it was great and he loved riding in the tow truck. So that brings us to today… the camper was towed to a campground that is actually very close to where we broke down. I’m happy because it has a pool, playground and laundry and we have a rental car while the truck sits at Ford waiting to be inspected. We are happy to be safe and are grateful that the truck conked out in a populated area rather than a two lane road in the middle of nowhere! We are unsure how long it will take to repair the truck and hope we can continue North in a few days. While this is a setback we realize that this is the price that we pay for this type of travel and it is all part of the adventure.