Published: April 26th 2006April 15th 2006
the Catholic Basilica of St Louis
The amazing church we attended on Good Friday
Cutting across Kentucky after leaving Tennessee, we found a detour to a pair of long thin lakes, separated by a strip of land just a couple of miles wide, so crossing Lake Barkley, we stopped at the Land Between the Lakes Park for lunch and windshield bug removal. A very pretty area, we just couldn't stay long because of the oppressive heat - over 90 degrees! Moving on we crossed Kenlake (Lake Kentucky) and rejoined the interstate. From here it was just a couple of hours to Illinois, which we entered from the South, over the Ohio River.
Mt Vernon Motel 6 was our home for the night, and Wendy's super value menu again provided our dinner (salad and baked potaoes, plus an obligatory burger each.) The next afternoon saw us on our way west to St Louis, Missouri - we were so close anyway, and this adds another state to our total! St Louis can be seen several miles away by virtue of the huge concrete and metal arch - the 'Gateway to West' down on the riverside park. We picked up a great Jazz station on the way into town as well!
With the objectives of catching
up on internet and finding somewhere for a Good Friday service, we first stopped at the Public Library and signed up for internet access later that afternoon, also receiving directions which eventually led us to the Catholic Cathedral. It was indeed hard to miss - a huge basilica style catherdral with green tiled domes. Inside it was beautiful, and Juliet felt lucky to be in such an environment on such a special day, with the Cathedral Choir and Schola providing beautiful music.
Just one downside - the service was a little longer than at home, however well air-conditioned, and we hope the Library forgives us for the internet access which went unused :( After church we travelled through downtown, which was alive with a sea of red converging on Busch Baseball Stadium - the St Louis Cardinals were about to play the Cincinnati Reds! It seemed everyone in town was heading to the ballpark, the police were controlling every intersection, the place was bedecked with flags and alight with excitement! St Louis was a beautiful park-filled town and one we would have been happy to spend a lot longer exploring. We did, however, have places to see and people to meet so moved on.
Springfield, Illinois was our home that night, and the next morning we explored the town. Small, flat and baking hot the day we were there, Springfield is filled with an inordinate number of historical stone buildings, and known for its obsession with all things Abe Lincoln related, as we quickly found. Town was practically empty, and we parked our car near the imposingly silver domed State Capitol (with the mandatory Lincoln Statue outside) and went for a wander. On the corner of Jackson and 8th streets is Mr Lincon's home - a preserved and restored heritage area covering four blocks, the centre of which is the house occupied by Abraham Lincoln and his family from the mid 1840s until he went to Washington as President in 1861.
We spent some time in the neighbourhood, taking a tour of Mr Lincoln's house, ably guided by a young park ranger, and then having a look at some of the other houses - Juliet was slightly disappointed to find that none of them were restored inside, but merely shells to display more Lincoln information, which was interesting none the less. In one such house we were caught up by another Ranger, who was the 3rd young ranger in the historical village to be interested in hearing about New Zealand and our travels so far. Overstaffed? Still, we weren't complaining.
Taking up Michael the ranger's advice, we headed next to Sammy's Sport's Bar and Grill to sample a Springfild tradition, the horseshoe sandwich. As we had had a fair amount of unhealthiness so far, we decided to share the sandwich and get salad along with it. Sharing proved to be a wise idea as the sandwich consisted of a slab of bread under a thick layer of tender Philly Beefsteak, covered with mushrooms, smothered in salty garlicky cheese sauce and topped off with crinkle cut fries - it was actually more than we could manage as a team, but very good indeed. There is no way we could have managed one of those monsters each!
With tornado warnings ringing in our heads (we were told not to worry unless the clouds gathered and the winds got up, and after lunch it was getting quite black behind us...) we went north again, looking very much forward to meeting Jenny's friend Mark in Chicago...