Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Illinois to Ohio

Today seemed long probably because we crossed a time zone back into Eastern Standard!  We had a pretty good day considering the very slow start.  We finished up all the morning tasks easily and were ready to get on the road – oh no! dead battery!  That just does not happen with the Sprinter.  Ben then remembered he had turned on the van to wash the front window and had not turned it off.  We found a fellow camper and by using two sets of jumper cables at the same time we were soon on our way.  Lesson learned.


We headed south towards Vandalia Illinois, the terminus of the Historic National Road. We had begun the journey on this first national road in the US back in June and we are now tracing the second half of the road from West to East. We will only hit the high spots as we follow US 40 and I 70  off and on as they both generally follow the National Road of the early 1800’s.  There are fewer sites to visit on this western portion of the road and as we have learned – few if any visitor centers and museums are open on Monday.

Madonna of the Trail - Vandalia Illinois

The trip south on several IL state roads were through farmland and a few small towns. We reached Vandalia and found the First Illinois Capital Building where Abraham Lincoln first served as an Illinois Representative. On one corner of the Capital Building was the terminus marker and one of 12 Madonna of the Trail statues that were placed along the National Road by the DAR.

We then headed on across Illinois crossing into Indiana near Terra Haute. Here is where we lost the hour of time…as we stopped at a welcome rest stop for lunch.

Trying to photograph barns from road is a challenge

Of interest might be – the radio/CD player in the Sprinter – when the power was off it lost its’ memory and it has some sort of anti theft system that has to be rebooted or something to work. The radio system has it’s own instruction book of about 100 pages!  We had to have a special code to get it to reboot – having never had this problem before – we neither one knew the code. Finally after  searching through all the papers we found a code and were able to get the radio back on to listen to our CD book!

It was then about 140 miles across Indiana with the huge metropolis of Indianapolis in the middle to slow us down. There is a huge construction project going on right in the midst of the city so we had to take a detour through some city traffic. It was less of a hassle than we had thought it would be and we were soon headed east towards Ohio.

The National Road – also known as the Cumberland Road- was first envisioned by George Washington and funded by Thomas Jefferson in 1806. Slowly it built its’ way west and the Indiana portion was first funded in 1829 for $51,000 with additional appropriations in the next years. In Indiana they began building both east and west from Indianapolis. Two major bridges were finally completed in 1834 and the National Road in Indiana officially opened. In 1850 the paper in Richmond IN – the eastern border – reported that in a 6 day period 700 emigrant parties cross the bridge across the Whitewater River. A party would have included all wagons, animals etc belonging to one family.

There were lodgings for travelers and their animals about every 5 miles.  Travel was popular along the road until Civil War time when the railroads became the more popular method of travel.  A few of these inns remain today but far fewer than we saw in the MD and PA area.  One I had hoped to visit today is now only open on Fridays from 1 – 3 – Strange.

We crossed into Ohio and found our way to a KOA Kampground on the western edge of Dayton.  Tomorrow we will visit some museums and depending on the time we finish stop on the eastern edge at another campground or head south.  This is what is known as a “destination KOA” – it has a pool, miniature golf course, a lake with paddle boats, a pizza parlor, a playground, and probably much more.  It is also one of the most expensive campgrounds we have visited - $42 a night and that is only for bathroom, electric, cable and internet (very weak internet). Ben said he heard someone on the phone quoted over $120 for what they requested - let's hope it was for more than one night!  It is a very nice place but we surely won’t take part in all the activities! The campground was nearly deserted.
We were alone on our loop of campground!

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