The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

On my travels through the Midwest this summer, I found myself drawn to the life and times of the great man and then President, Abraham Lincoln.  And since Illinois is his home turf, it is a treasure trove of anything and everything connected to him. Some happier than others, but none the less, still worth a visit. One of those quiet and somber places was the Cemetery named in his honor.

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Located in Ellwood, IL, covering 982 acres (yes this place was HUGE), it is easily accessible and about 50 miles outside Chicago. It was dedicated in 1999 by the Department of Veteran Affairs, and is found on the grounds that formerly was the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. Which does make me curious how that works…

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Ironically it was named after the 16th President, yet he wasn’t buried or moved here. He can be found at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, which I also spent time at- BEAUTIFUL place!

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What makes this Cemetery revolutionary is that in 2015, the FIRST American federally approved monument was made to honor LGBT Veterans. VERY cool!

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I visited on a summer day, no admission required, just a simple drive in.  I stayed away from any burials going on, to pay my respects to so many there, and to see the Lincoln statue in the garden that was made.

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The statue is beautiful, inspirational words surround him, and it is worth a stop to see. It was quiet, peaceful, and I felt the love around me.  I encourage you to visit, thank you for stopping by!

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My Top Ten Favorite Places I Visited in 2020

Let me start by saying that many even reading this title will say “Are you talking about to my living room or to my kitchen?” I. Get. It. I also know that I made the best of a bad year as much as I could by finding the silver lining whenever and however I could. Because I travel solo, I was able to enjoy a lot because I could stay away from the public in many circumstances as possible. And because this is my passion and purpose, I still found a way to travel, so here are my top ten places I visited this past year- enjoy!

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  1. Woodstock, IL I had no idea that the town of Woodstock was the home turf of the movie “Groundhog Day.” It was so fun to walk around and see so many of the filming locations and how much to town has embraced it- including the famous Bed & Breakfast that he stayed at in the movie. Check out the full article HERE.
  2. Route 66 through Illinois– By chance, I stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom and saw a “Route 66” guidebook in the lobby. This would take me on a full day of tracing every Route 66 spot from city to city until dark. Fun to do and safe- check it out HERE.
  3. John Hughes Road Trip What started as looking for the “Home Alone” house became a quest to find all of his movies within a 100 mile radius. Everything from “Sixteen Candles” to “The Breakfast Club” and ending up at his grave to thank him for all the great movies. It was great and HIGHLY recommend you drive it for yourself! Check it out HERE.
  4. Chicago– two different day trips to the windy city where I enjoyed all of Michigan Avenue, the Loop area, and of course, the Disney Store. Complete with my first Metra ride!
  5. Galena, IL– this picturesque town is something out of a romance novel. With it’s quaint shops, beautiful parks, old homes, and amazing restaurants, it’s the old Main Street we crave more and more these days. Check it out HERE.
  6. Casey, IL– the little town with BIG dreams! I LOVED going here because it was genius how they turned a town on the decline into a major tourist attraction. Click HERE to see why!
  7. The Old Joliet Prison- I did the daytime and nighttime tours, they were really fascinating with a side of creepiness in the evening.
  8. Lincoln’s Tomb- It was so surreal to be where he was laid to rest, along with the rest of his family.
  9. Lincoln’s Presidential Library- It was my first visit to any Presidential Library and it was SO worth it! The presentation, the shows, the overall history of his legacy was a day of goosebumps. Check this one out!
  10. Billy Goat Tavern- known from “Saturday Night Live” and a local hang out to many now famous comedians and celebrities, this hidden gem under Michigan Avenue was THE coolest place!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The DeSoto House Hotel

Upon planning my trip to Galena in Illinois, I had come across the DeSoto House Hotel and immediatedly got excited. Why? Well I had heard it was quite haunted because of the rich history that happened in and outside this famous building AND because good old  Abe Lincoln had been here himself!  If you have followed my travels this past year, I have had an ongoing series called “The Love of Lincoln” and it basically traces his steps all over IL. So I was happy to add another piece of the puzzle to that, AND so much more history that I would uncover.

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Let’s start with the DeSoto House Hotel itself, makes sense since that’s the title. Sitting on the corner of Main Street in Galena, it commands your precense in it’s shadow. Opening on April 9th, 1855, it was financed by the “Galena Hotel Company” and named after the founder of the great Mississippi, DeSoto. Upon it’s grand opening, it was billed as the “Largest Hotel in the West” and at first glance, you can see why. Even with two floors now missing, its still quite large and grand. On it’s opening day it had 225 guest rooms, a ladies parlor, gentleman’s room, dining hall and full kitchen. Later was added retail stores, a saloon, offices, and a bowling alley. 

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John C. Parks would go on to furnish the Hotel with ravish furnishings and velvet carpets. With this now in place, this was THE Hotel to be at in the Midwest. Hence why Abraham Lincoln would choose it to speak on the Main Street balcony on July 23rd, 1856 in favor of John Fremont’s bid for Presidency.  Two years later on July 25th, Stephen A. Douglas spoke from the same balcony.  Then on September 13th, 1860, a crowd gathered at the Hotel in support of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency bid- a VERY famous balcony indeed!

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After the Civil War, Ulysses S Grant came back to his hometown of Galena, bringing 25,000 people to the downtown area. Can you imagine? They had parades and parties as the welcomed him home, with a grand ball at the DeSoto House Hotel! I mean if those walls could talk…the history they have seen. And if you really want to be a part of history, request rooms 209 or 211, where Grant held his Presidential Campaign.

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Once the railroads took over the steamboat industry, this beautiful little town and the Hotel would take an economic hit. On top of that, a fire broke out at the Hotel only four years after it had opened along with their steam boiler exploding later in 1869. They kept the Hotel afloat by using it as the centerpiece for the big events in town, including the welcoming of soldiers home- it must have been an incredible sight to see!

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Over time it would be rented, renovated, several times over, until it became what it is today.  The biggest change were removal of the top two floors in 1880 and moving the Tavern to the other side in 1883. With millions in renovations in the 1970s and 1980s, the DeSoto now houses 55 guest rooms, a ballroom, three dining areas, a full food court with atrium, a really cool tavern, and the General’s Restaurant which named the rooms after the famous Generals.   Rooms run $139 and up… check them out at desotohouse.com.

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Is it haunted? Heck yeah! How could it not be? Several of the ghost tours in town will take you through it, and you can also grab a free walking tour guide, which is what I did so I could just take my time and explore. It’s a beautiful hotel and I would love to stay here someday. It is in a GREAT location on Main Street, and with this Town still a busy place today in 2020, it would be great to stay in the middle of the action!  The balcony that that made this place so famous still exists and I couldn’t stop staring it, seeing Abe’s ghost standing there. On a side note, many celebrities have stayed at DeSoto, including Tom Thumb of Circus fame (and the dork in me who LOVED Greatest Showman was excited about this!!). I highly encourage you to book a stay, enjoy the downtown area, and experience the beauty of Galena through this amazing piece of history.

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Lincoln Visits Strevel…An Historical Moment

Over the summer, I have figured out that I have several categories of travel that I truly enjoy checking off.  One of them being History, but more specific, Lincoln and his travels.  Having spent some serious time in the Midwest lately, it has given me a really cool perspective of this President and his life and times.  So when I visit a city, I look up if there was anything Lincoln did or saw there to add to my digital scrapbook of travels. This was one of those places, a diamond in the rough, and unless you knew where it was, I doubt most would make it a stop. rsz_img_1070

Yes, it’s a red house on a corner, 401 Livingston Street.  But it’s the Gothic Style architecture that gives this house a very spooky vibe, on top of the fact that Lincoln himself spent time here visiting and celebrating. Built in 1854 and located in Pontiac, Illinois, sits this interesting home where Lincoln visited his good friend, Jason Strevell. Why is it so significant? Because it is here that Lincoln penned a letter to his son on the evening of January 27th, 1860, that he predicted he would be nominated for the vice-presidency of the Republican Party.  The Strevels would also host a celebration for Lincoln here after one of his speeches at the local church. It is the ONLY and LAST house standing in Livingston County in which Lincoln visited. rsz_img_1068 (2)1LincolnDwightHomersz_img_1069 (1)rsz_img_1067Anything with Lincoln gives me the goosebumps…to know the man walked the same steps I now took in 2020, the same pavement, the same view of this home.  The home wasn’t open, due to Covid, but I was able to get a shot of the inside through the front door. To see him walk down the stairs, to know he walked and thought about where his foothold in history would be. Maybe he had no idea how he would shape us, but it’s pretty incredible to see these places and feel that amazing, historical energy.  I encourage you or the family to road trip to these spots around Illinois, it’s a great learning experience and it’s important to keep the history alive. Want to see more of my Lincoln Road Trip? Check it out HERE. Enjoy!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Lincoln-Douglas Debate…Stepping into History

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I have so enjoyed learning all about Abraham Lincoln this past summer…his life was seriously fascinating. Some of my adventures I have planned out, and some have just happened to me. The Debate area was one of those “Hey I didn’t know this was here” kinds of things, and embarassingly enough, I SHOULD have known that. Pretty sure I was taught it back in second grade, but hey, my mind isn’t what it used to be. Is anyones? rsz_img_0022rsz_img_0024rsz_img_0025

Located in the town of Alton, IL, lies the spot of the infamous and final Lincoln-Douglas Debate, at the Alton City Hall on October 15th, 1858. What did they debate? Douglas wanted slavery, Lincoln did not. Why it was such a big deal was because this little unknown laywer from the country was going up against Stephen Douglas, who had held the Senate seat for over a decade. Douglas would win the Senate seat, but Lincoln would go on to win the Presidency in 1860.  rsz_img_0033

Unfortunately the building that housed the Courthouse burned down, so the spot that remains is marked by the statues of the famous political men. They built a beautiful, brick lined Park with signage, which has a view of the Mississippi River and the town of Alton. I was there on a Friday, August 21, 2020 and there was noone around, so I felt safe to enjoy it during these Covid times. So stop on by and check it out, a great moment of history to stand upon yourself! For more of my Abraham Lincoln Road Trip, click HERE!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The City of Lincoln in Illinois

Perusing the countryside of Illinois, I was in search of the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. There’s so much rich history here, and it’s been really fun to learn so much about this amazing man. Located between Bloomington and Springfield lies a little city, settled in the 1930s, called Lincoln. The only town which was named after Abe Lincoln BEFORE he became President! He also practiced law here from 1847 to 1859, at the Courthouse downtown and also the Postville Courthouse on the outside of town.  There is a sign that recognizes the Postville Courthouse as an “official” stop on Route 66, and even though the Courthouse is not the original, it’s the spot where it originally was. It’s worth the stop for the City and the Courthouses, although I was only able to  get into the Postville one (due to Covid). It was great to tour it (they have recreated it) and they have an ORIGINAL rocking chair that Lincoln sat in-pretty cool! It’s worth the stop to see, and it’s only about half an hour outside Springfield.LincolnTownLincolnTown2LincolnTown8LincolnTown7LincolnTown6LincolnTown4LincolnTown9LincolnTown11LincolnTown12LincolnTown13LincolnTown14LincolnTown15LincolnTown3IMG_8039

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Who are the People in your Neighborhood? A Look at Abe’s Home and Community!

They say you are, who you are, by the company that you keep. Abraham Lincoln knew this as he surrounded himself with amazing neighbors who would help his family as much as he helped them, in a little suburb in Springfield, Illinois. Let’s walk it, shall we?LincolnHome2This is on the National Park Registry, so for all of you adventurers out there looking to complete the list, this is a must stop! Parking is free right off of 8th Street, at a lot in front of the Visitors Center OR you can park on the Street and pay the meter.  I went on a Saturday, July 25th, 2020. The Visitors Center and Abe’s home are NOT OPEN during Covid, but the neighborhood is open and free to walk around in. It is a “blocked off” area meaning you can walk the gravel streets without any cars, leaving plenty of room between you and others for social distancing. I wore a mask around others, alone is when I gave myself a breather.IMG_8081LincolnHome8LincolnHome6IMG_8073IMG_8074Lincoln lived here with his family from 1844 to 1861, right before becoming our 16th President. Signage is provided everywhere on who’s home is what, and how they were impacted by Lincoln in their lives. Imagine if each of our neighborhoods did that now, maybe we would treat each other better for the legacy we would like to leave.IMG_7870IMG_8078 LincolnHome1Lincoln’s home is a simple house, but it’s the picture posted kiddie corner across the street that brings you right into his time. Its of him and his boys on the porch with Mary on the sidewalk, and to stand there and see where he once stood with his family, where he called home…it gave me goosebumps.  I have a ghost app on my phone that supposedly you can hear them say words through, and once and awhile I’ll play it in hopes I might get something. As I was standing there, it said “Particularly strange.” I laughed and said “Sounds like something Lincoln would say” and I got back “Precisely.” It has been reported numerous times that Abe has been seen many times in this area, walking around like the good old days. Not to be confused with the reenactors who frequent this area, along with Abe, but due to Covid, are on a break for awhile.LincolnHome5LincolnHome3I enjoyed this area because it was quiet, off the beaten path, no one was around, and it was in the shade of some beautiful trees, so it was just a nice place to visit and be.  I highly recommend it! More Lincoln? Yes please! Check it out HERE and enjoy!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

My absolute favorite part of any road trip is the unexpected. I am headed in one direction, plans on the brain, and then BAM, something presents itself that could be just as interesting, if not more. I was headed on my way to Casey, among the rows of Corn, hoping I wasn’t about to be a part of a Stephen King novel, and then I saw a sign for Lincoln’s Cabin. Having just been in Springfield and Lincoln, IL, I had been on a Lincoln “kick” so I thought, why not?LogCabin1Here’s the reality of it…and it’s still cool, just not what I thought it was. This is the site of Abe’s FATHER’S cabin, Thomas Lincoln. So its yes a “Lincoln Cabin” but not Abe’s. When Abe’s mother died, Thomas Lincoln got remarried to Sarah Johnston, they followed other family members from Indiana to Central Illinois. Abraham followed them, but decided to start his own home in Sangamon County. Thomas and his crew settled in near Decatur in Coles County. Here they built the saddle-bag type cabin, which is basically two large rooms joined together.LogCabin2LogCabin4Over the years, they would host up to 18 family members of the Lincoln line here. Abraham was busy being a lawyer and in state legislation, so he would visit when he could, making his final visit as President once the train line from Springfield was laid.LogCabin10LogCabin6Parking was free and it is free to tour the Lincoln Farm. The cabin was NOT open to tour while I was there (Covid-July 25th, 2020) YET the Gift Shop was open! I know, right? But I was able to go into the Visitors Center, look at all of the exhibits (masks required), and then walk the farm amongst the sheep and pigs just running around you.  It’s a beautiful area, I can see why they chose that spot. The cabin was recreated in the early 1900’s because the original was taken apart and displayed in Chicago somewhere. It looks original, I can tell you that, expect for the ugly blue doors someone painted.LogCabin5LogCabin8LogCabin9LogCabin7The gift shop was probably the most hilarious part as it sells of the “Abe” stuff on top of some really cute “country” type gifts. I picked up a really neat patch work pillow with the U.S. on it- reminded me of my travels.LogCabinPillowIs it worth it? Well, if you happen to be in the area, near Casey, then yes, history is important and to be where the family all were is really cool. But is it worth a detour? Well, during Covid, it’s something to do FREE and OUTDOORS so that’s a win, win. But hours out of the way for it? No. I enjoyed it and I hope you love the pictures, check it out when you are these neck of the woods. More Lincoln, yes please! Check it out HERE. Enjoy!

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Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

$5.00