13/8/11 woke up in Bloomington, Illinois

It is a beautiful sunday and even more so, as we are going to visit the Maple sirup factory in Funk’s Grove! Or so we thought. As a small, family run business, out of maple sirup season the factory is pretty much shut. Luckily, we found a much more interesting place on the way.. Sugar Grove Nature Center. I has got nothing to do with sugar, but all to do with nature.
America never fails to amaze me when it comes to small places in the middle of nowhere, be it a museum or a nature sanctuary, that looks outstanding, with a great attention to details, whilst charging next to nothing, or actually NOTHING for the entrance. This was also the case with Sugar Grove.
It’s a cross between kids playground, with turtles and snakes, and bird watching area, with countless birds and squirrels.
There is also a park with a huge climbing tree, where we chilled for a bit whilst Leah was making friends and playing 10ft above the ground.

Sugar Grove

Sugar Grove

The place is run by some passionate volunteers, which is probably the best part of the visit, as those people actually ENJOY their work, without getting any money for it. They are happy to spend hours telling you about particular species. Amazing. If you think that at the same time someone on Wall Street looses millions of $$$ in minutes, and those people happily live their steady lives without anyone knowing about it.

After the relaxing afternoon, we drove past Atlanta, where I saw a dude with a big.. sausage, and where we experienced the real American diner lunch at Palms Cafe, one of the oldest eateries on the Mother Road.

Bunyon's Statue

Bunyon's Statue

From Atlanta we headed to Springfield, through Lincoln.

This part of our trip is also known as the Lincoln track. Since today we drove through Springfield, I was mostly disturbed to find out that the most important person associated with this town was NOT Homer Simpson, but.. Abraham Lincoln. Hmm. My dad won’t be impressed. He is a big Homer’s fan and I promised him some adequate memorabilia. I am hopeful as there is another Springfield about two days away, so maybe I will hit the jackpot!
Coming back to Lincoln.. Since he had spent most of his life in Springfield, practice law here and lived here too, it seemed like a logical place to have his tomb. His remains rest in a vault ten feet below the massive Arkansas marble monument. The words “Now he belongs to the ages”, inscribed on the wall behind the United States flag, are said to have been uttered by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton at Lincoln’s deathbed.

Apart from the monument, this town did not seem to exciting, and we felt like we’ve done no mileage, so after a brief consideration we decided to de-tour about 2 hours East, to a place called Arthur, which was meant to be the center of the Amish Country.

For any of you, who did not come across them, The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. Not only no iPads, internet and facebook, but no electricity, phones all together, insurance, cars (they travel in horse carriages, pretty cool if you ask me), contraception, military service, they reject use of preventive genetic tests prior to marriage and genetic testing of unborn children to discover genetic disorders.

They don’t really send their kids to school, apart from their internal educational system, where unmarried women teach a group of kids in a single room. They rarely go to high school or collage, as they do not see the need for higher education to work in the field, and when they do go ahead with a bit more schooling, they get bullied for they retro outfits and bizarre hair styles. It gets even worse, when you trying to get out of the.. hmm.. religion. Movement would probably be more appropriate though.

So I am thinking, is it bad way of living? It’s certainly different.
If you don’t experience stuff, you do not miss it. I grew up without mobile till the age of 18 and survived. Would I do it again now that I know how convenient phones are? Not a chance. A recent study I have read recently says, that 70% of women these days would rather not have sex for a month, than a phone. Guilty.

But would I be unhappy if I was to never experience this, and live in a village, looking after my husband, kids and horses, and cooking? If I was to never experience any of the modern cons? Absolutely not.