Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Abe, Sam, Mark, Tom, Huck & Becky

We left Elkhart with the plan to spend a couple of days in Lincoln, IL on our way to Hannibal, MO where we planned to stay through the holiday weekend.  When we called the campground we could only get one night so we missed seeing a few Route 66 sites in the Lincoln area.  This sometimes happens when we travel without reservations and it's not a big deal, we just headed to Hannibal a day early.  We were happy to be in a shady spot for the week as the temps were near 100 everyday. 
Lincoln is the only town named for Abe before he became president.  He was there to christen the town with watermelon juice when it was established in 1853.  The town was a stop on the circuit for judges and lawyers to hold court.  There is a beautiful courthouse on the town square where the statue is and a huge covered wagon with a larger than life Lincoln.  This was a neat little stop where we will have to return to see the things we missed.
Hannibal is a neat old river town that celebrates its native son, Samuel Clemons, who grew up here to become author, Mark Twain.  The pen name comes from Sam's experience as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi.  When the water was a safe two fathoms deep the pilot would shout "Mark Twain".  This is a look at the historic district from Lover's Leap.
How neat it was to see the statue of Mark at the wheel as the riverboat, Queen of the Mississippi, sailed away.  We saw the Queen in Natchez this spring.  Here is a link to that entry.
The white house is Sam's boyhood home.  The characters in Mark's books, Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and others, are based on Sam's young friends and their lives growing up in Hannibal.
Here is Tom sneaking out of the house to join Huck for a bit of mischief.
Nanc at the famous fence.  She wanted me to do the painting but with my old painting skills and a bit of Tom's brass I got her to do the job.
Just up the street from Sam's boyhood home is Huck's home.  His character was based on Sam's friend, Tom Blankenship.
Statue of Tom and Huck.
Across the street from Sam's home is the home of Laura Hawkins who was the model for Becky Thatcher.  As you walk around town and along the river you can just picture the characters and imagine the adventures they would have had growing up in this little river town.
We heard Mark talk about his experience at the beginning of the Civil War before he went west with his brother whom Abe appointed as the secretary of the Nevada Territory.
One of the highlights of the Mark Twain Museum, which includes all the above homes, is the collection of Norman Rockwell illustrations from an edition of the books published in the 1930's.  Rockwell was the first illustrator to visit Hannibal before doing his drawings so they are much more realistic. 
We attended another show, Mark Twain Himself, at the Planters Barn Theater.  It was very informative and great hearing different stories from both Marks.
We are staying at the Mark Twain Cave Campground so to cool off on one of those 100 degree days we toured the cave.  It is a small cave that was found in the early 1800's and was featured in Mark's books.
There were a few bats flying around and this one that was resting to get ready for a night of bug eating.  When I see old graffiti in places like this I wonder how long it takes for vandalism to become an important historical treasure.  Top right is where Jessie James signed the cave while hiding here.
Some people in Hannibal even took there role in Mark's life to the grave.  Laura Hawkins Frazer had Becky Thatcher engraved on her headstone so that future generations would not forget that she was the real person and the inspiration for Becky in the books.  Very neat!!
Hannibal is all about Mark Twain to the point that we encountered the Mark Twain campground, cave, boyhood home, himself, museum, casino and riverboat.  We did pass on the Mark Twain fried chicken.  If you have any interest in this American icon you need to put Hannibal on your to do list. 
I don't usually write about restaurants where we eat on the road, but we found a really neat place here in Hannibal, LaBinnah Bistro.  It's a great little place with a Mediterranean flair located in an old Victorian home that was once a social club that entertained the likes of Sam.  I had a shrimp dish and Nanc had a vegetarian meal.  They were both wonderful made with exotic seasonings.  As we were finishing, another couple who had just finished their meal stopped to talk and the lady told us the vegetables had come from her garden.  Can't get much fresher than that.  It was so good we went back for a second meal.  If you are in Hannibal check out this great restaurant.
Part of the complex at the campground includes a winery where they had entertainment on Saturday night.  The Cheeseburgers were very entertaining.  They are a local group from Quincy, IL, but with a Pittsburgh tie, Burt the keyboarder.  If you are in the area and they are playing don't miss the chance to hear them.  In the picture they were doing a ZZ Top number. A great visit to an historic town with more to do than you can imagine.  Very well worth a stop.


Sharon Del Rosario said...

Great blog post, Jim & Nanc. Nice how Nanc got talked into whitewashing that fence! We're hoping to spend at least one more day there, so we're glad to know about the good restaurant. Hope it's a little cooler when we get there.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post, better add this to our list/