In the State Capitol with My Nephews

Hubby and I got home last night from what was the best weekend we’ve had in a long time!  We took my nephews on an overnight trip to Springfield, IL.  I’ve been looking forward to spending some time with them and it was everything I had hoped for.

We picked them both up Friday morning and hit the road heading to Bloomington, IL to visit the Prairie Aviation Museum.  We hadn’t visited this particular museum before but I’m so glad we found it when we were researching locations for this trip.  It isn’t a large museum but it is more than worth the admission which was very reasonable too.  They have some fun things to see inside so definitely take a look around but the best part is outside.  They have some beautiful aircraft and you can get right up close to them and even climb the steps up to look into the cockpits.  They have hatches open so that you can see internal wiring and they even opened the door of the Huey and the boys were able to climb inside.  The proprietor came outside and talked with us about the aircraft and my nephew was in seventh heaven.  It was all worth it to see his eyes light up as he walked around.  I recommend this museum to anybody interested in military or aircraft.  It was fun.

 

Huey at Prairie Aviation Museum
Huey at Prairie Aviation Museum

 

While we were in Bloomington, we drove around a bit looking for a couple of Abe Lincoln statues.  We found them.  🙂

Abe Statue

Abe on a Bench

We made excellent time to Springfield from there so we visited Lincoln’s tomb and the war memorials in the Oak Ridge Cemetery.  If you go to Springfield, this something you should definitely see.  The tomb itself was closed for renovation inside but we still saw the  outside, rubbed Lincoln’s lucky nose, and drove around to see the old tomb and look at some of the other amazing grave markers and tombs in the cemetery.  The war memorials are sobering.  If you go, make sure to park and walk up to each of the three.  The engravings are difficult to look at sometimes because of the emotion they evoke but I feel it’s important to educate the next generation and for all of us to remember.

The hotel check in went smoothly.  The boys had their own room but the rooms had connecting doors.  We played Life and Monopoly on my Kindle Fire and ate pizza.  I can’t remember ever having that much fun playing a board game (even if it was electronic).  Next time we’ll definitely bring a couple of real board games.

On Saturday we visited the Abraham Lincoln Museum and the Illinois State Military Museum.  We also drove around to find the current and old capitol buildings and other oddities. But the day started with breakfast at Golden Corral.  I’m not really a fan of buffets usually but I was impressed with this one.  The food was diverse and it was very good.  They actually have wait staff!  They refill your soda, clear plates, get condiments, and are just very friendly and helpful.  Hubby had a steak cooked to order and we all had more food that we should have eaten but it was so good.  I highly recommend Golden Corral as a great way to get a meal for a family for a great price especially if anyone is very choosy about their food.

The Abraham Lincoln Museum was far more impressive than I expected as well.  They have the amazing figures that are so lifelike to be startling at times when you enter a room.  As you walk through the museum,  you are walking through Lincoln’s life from youth to death.  The descriptive signs by each display are informative but brief and the whole experience is very visual as well as having well created audio and video in places.  For example, there’s a passage you walk through after the introduction of the Emancipation Proclamation where there are faces appearing on each side and they are talking or shouting their feelings about it.  Walking through this felt like walking through history with each event frozen for you to experience.  It’s very good and I felt it was worth the cost of admission as well.  We learned a lot about Lincoln’s life and how he must have felt as the events unfolded.

The Illinois State Military Museum is a monument to our state’s National Guard.  Hubby and I have been there before so we wanted to share it with the boys.  They have a flight training simulator that people can sit in and look at the controls (it doesn’t actually operate), the wooden leg of Santa Anna, some amazing old flags, and exhibits with uniforms, weapons and more.  There are military vehicles on the lawn in front including a Huey, tank, artillery piece, and more.  The most moving part is the display of photos of National Guard members who have died in the Middle East.  With the pictures are personal items and notes left by family and friends.  If you are in the area, definitely see this museum.  It’s small so it doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s free.  Please make a small donation or buy some souvenirs (we did both).  It helps to support this important site.  The boys enjoyed looking around at the exhibits and the younger one was able to climb inside the flight simulator.  It’s a tight fit!

IMG_20140329_133838532 IMG_20140329_131826687

Lunch was Cozy Dog.  I think everyone should try this restaurant and have some corn dogs.  So good.

The ride home was much fun as well.  We fired up Slacker Radio on my Android phone which was connected to my Bluetooth speaker and the station 55 Songs You Think Suck but Don’t.  There was something for everyone and much groaning when Auntie started singing along at first.  But, we even had the boys singing along at times.  (This station does have a bit of explicit content so it isn’t good for very young kids but the boys are older and it wasn’t anything they haven’t heard before.)  There were some stinker songs we skipped but it was great fun.

I can’t wait to spend more time with my nephews.  They’re great kids and growing up so fast.  I think we created some really good memories.  I’ve promised the younger a shopping trip to visit the local Military Surplus store and a Science & Surplus store.  We have some other ideas too.  Summer’s almost here and I have long weekends!

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