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Monday June 4, 2007 // By Sandy

Weekend in Springfield

I’m writing this from the backseat of Jerry, as Sarah drives into the city on I-55. Actually, I’m not entirely in the backseat. My ass is on a back-row seat, but my legs are stretched across the folded-down-to-horizontal front seat, effectively forming an easy chair in our little subcompact. There’s even a handy cup holder in the door of the back seat, putting water in reaching distance. For a guy who has long legs and has trouble keeping them cramped up in tight spaces over a long period of time, this is a godsend.

What’s more incredible is that in addition to holding most of my person, the back area of the Fit can comfortably store two bikes (front tires removed) and two suitcases and still leave room for a few extra bags and boxes. This is one of the most efficiently designed cars I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride long distances in. Hats off to the Honda design team.

This weekend was Jerry’s first road trip. We drove her down to Springfield, IL, so we could spend a couple days in our state capital. Mostly we went down to see the sexy new Abraham Lincoln Museum and absorb as much Lincolnalia as possible, short of donning a stovepipe. We paced ourselves. We started off on Saturday with a visit to the solemn and magnificent Lincoln’s tomb. We saw a few of the downtown sites that evening, but held off on the big dance until Sunday, which was serendipitous, because Sunday’s the museum’s least busy day. After three hours learning all the minutiae of his life and presidency, through incredibly intricate recreations and holographic effects, we’re now ready to join a Wide-Awake and march down Main Street for Abe. The Union Forever!

The only surprising thing about the museum was that it wasn’t dipped in batter and deep-fried. Everything else is. We seem to forget the motto of the small-town Midwest whenever we visit, but it’s true: If It Can Be Deep-fried, It Shall Be Deep-fried. From corn dogs at Cozy Dog (where they were invented) to the taquitos at the local bistro, to the crispy French Toast we were served for breakfast at our B&B, it was difficult for us to eat anything that hadn’t gone swimming in oil. It’s not hard to understand why this country’s getting so damn fat.

We wanted to counter the effects of all that grease, which is why, despite the forecast for thunderstorms and the darkening clouds on the horizon, we took off for a 10-mile bike ride Saturday afternoon. It started to rain just as we took off, but remained a pleasant drizzle until we got to the terminus, five miles in. Just as we turned around to go home, the heavens opened. Thirty minutes later, soaked to the bone, we got to our inn, threw off our clothes and hopped into the shower jacuzzi to warm up. We’d booked this hotel because of the double-wide jacuzzi they advertised on their website, and if anything could make a half-hour in the tub better, it doing it after a rain-soaked ride.

So that was our weekend in a nutshell. If other presidential museums are as cool as this one, I’d like to make it a goal to see them all someday, once we have kids. That’s assuming they’re into the learnin’ — which, if they know what’s good for them, they better be.

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