Springfield, IL to Fairfield, IA
Total trip miles to date: 16,092
One of the themes of this trip is “Simplify. Less is more.” The trip touched on this theme many times. Whether reflecting at Walden Pond in Massachusetts, seeing the Abby of Gethsemane (built of simple materials…yet beautiful and timeless), or reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address today in Springfield, all reflect the “simple is better theme”. This resonates with me, and is reflected in the vehicle I chose for this journey. The Morgan 3-Wheeler is a simple vehicle with no extras or accessories. Just simple, basic, minimalist transportation. It was the perfect choice for me, and it clearly resonates with all who see it for the first time.
The Lincoln museum and library are an excellent way to understand the 16th President. His background was not one of money or a top education. Born of poverty in Kentucky, he educated himself. He was a true self-made man. His style and his speeches resonated with folks. He got to the point, to the things that mattered.
His address at Gettysburg came after the 1862 battle that killed or injured nearly 50,000 men on both sides. One battle, 50,000 men! His speech was the perfect example of “less is more”. Just 272 words in total. 272! It’s hard to imagine writing something with so few words that had so much impact on so many. Most of us have read it, but it’s worth reading again. You can feel his pain, yet his total commitment to win this civil war, because the cause was right and just. Here it is, and in his own writing.
Lincoln’s grave is an impressive site. It’s a quiet, reflective place where you feel honored to be this close to the great man. I wonder how this man would deal with the polarization this country is feeling today. No doubt the polarization that caused the Civil War was the ultimate challenge for a President to deal with. Will we ever learn to get along? Have we learned nothing since 1865?
A highlight was visiting the old statehouse and seeing the table and chair where Lincoln sat to write his famous “A house divided” speech. That speech likely lost him the 1858 senatorial election to Stephen Douglas, but it also likely won him the Presidential election 2 years later.
It was a reflective drive today, thinking about Lincoln, and also about this special journey that will end tomorrow. I will have plenty to write about tomorrow night, beginning with thanks to many people, and much gratitude for a safe journey. It’s been fertile ground for writing and I’m excited about the book project that will come out of this. It’s also been fun to blog, sharing the day-to-day joys and trials of the trip. It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 80 days on the road! We, The Spirit and I, have done it together. I’ve really learned to love this little vehicle. More on all of this tomorrow evening. My final state is the one in which I began, Iowa. We have now done all 48 states, in the time frame I had planned. So many stories, so much to write. It will be good to be home tomorrow.
One of the highlights for me has been to let kids all over the country sit in the driver’s seat. As we left Lincoln’s burial site, I was walking to the parking lot and noticed two young kids looking at the Spirit. I asked them if they wanted to sit in the driver’s seat. The youngest, Cade, jumped at the chance. What a fitting end to visiting the Lincoln’s burial site. From the past to the future, all in just a few short minutes. It was a good day, indeed.
Tomorrow this special journey ends. I will be back in Grinnell at 1:00pm. Lots of emotions right now. I’ll no doubt write a long blog entry tomorrow night to try to put it all into perspective.