Finally back on the road
The weather around here has pretty much been cold and wet so it's time for us to hit the road for the winter. We left south central Michigan and drove down around Lake Michigan and Chicago, when we tried this last year everything including the interstates were flooded and we had to take a two hour detour around it. A quick overnight in Utica Illinois and then it was up early to get hooked up before the rain came, only a 75 miles drive today to Rock Island where we will spend a week checking out the area. We arrived at camp just as the clouds opened up and I was drenched by the time we got settled in. Of course 30 minutes later the rain slowed up but it never stopped, according to the weather we may be getting soaked until Monday which will put a damper on a lot of our plans.
Four Days Later
The rains finally stopped and the sun has come out a little bit so we decided to try a little road trip to Tempico , Illinois, population 800 and famous for being the birthplace of President Ronald Reagan. It's a pretty neat little museum, located in a store front right on Main Street. After the guide tells you the history of the Reagan family, they take you on a tour of the old bank building next door which is below the apartment that Reagan was born in, the bank has been restored to what it was like in 1918 when it opened ( when Reagan was born there was a bakery in the building). Then we get to go up stairs to the apartment, when you're going up the narrow staircase you're thinking that it's going to be very small, but it turns to be very big three bedroom with a large living room, dining room, kitchen and large enclosed back porch. Here's a few pictures of the apartment.
If it wasn't for this sign you would probably drive right on by.
Their apartment is right above the National Bank Sign, the museum is in the building to the right of the car.
This is the bedroom that Reagan was born in.
Another building was built on the side of this one and they never bricked up the windows, so when Reagan's mother needed a babysitter she would pass him through the window and the neighbor would take care of him. Years later after he was president he returned to visit and crawled through the window one last time.
On that same visit some women in town had made this little rug which Reagan had his picture taken standing on, of course I had to step on it myself.
Another nice day so we're off to the Black Hawk State Historical Site where we plan to go through the Indian museum and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) museum, as I said that was our plan, when we got there we spotted the sign that said CLOSED MONDAY & TUESDAYS, you think they would mention that on their web site. It turned out pretty good for us, we were in by the museum reading a few historic markers when we heard some really weird bird, when we looked around to see what it was we spotted a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree about 100 feet from us, we watched it for a few minutes before it took off for the Mississippi River. I managed to get a picture of it but the weather was so cloudy and dark that it wasn't a very good one.
OK so now we're all dressed up with no place to go, guess will just drive over to the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), sounds simply right, NOT, this is the Quad City area which means four different cities, two different states and three different rivers to figure out. We never did, so after driving around for 45 minutes we decided the hell with it we'll just head back to camp and wait for the Baseball game to start. So of course the first turn we take we see the sign for the RIA, This is an active military base so you'll need picture ID to get through the gate, first stop was the visitors center which is located at the Corp of Engineers at Mississippi Lock number 15, here we got a map telling us where we could go and couldn't go on base. We spent about hour and half in the museum, which has one of the largest gun collection on display you'll ever see, it cover ever inch of a wall that is about 12 feet high and about 70 to 80 feet long. Each gun is tagged with a number and there are seven three ring binders on a table that you can look the number up in and read about that gun. Incidentally this is the oldest US Military museum next to West Pointe.
On the way off the island we stopped at the Confederate Cemetery, Rock Island was one of the 21 Union prison camps and operated from December 1863 to July 1865, over 12,000 Confederate Soldiers were held here and 1,960 of them died while being held here, many
Southerners referred to Rock Island as the Andersonville of the North although the death toll doesn't come any where close to Andersonville's. Each stone is identified and marked and maintained by the National Cemetery Administration, which is convenient since the Rock Island National Cemetery is right down the road from here. A quick stop there to add it to our list of National Cemetery's visited and then it was home to watch our beloved Tigers lose in the bottom of the 12th inning.
A nation wide project is under way to restore all the National Cemetery's, notice how perfectly straight the stones are.
This is just an old lift bridge that is on the Hennipen Canal that we happen to come across, part of a 72 mile bike/hike path.