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24 June, 2001

The Heartland of America 6/24/01

As the tour rapidly continues westward, we leave the Windy City and continue onto the Heartland of America. Before we left Chicago, we were able to go the Navy Pier and the Sears Tower. The Navy Pier is an area where many merchants gather to sell their goods. There is a carnival with. a few rides and numerous restaurants and food courts. One activity we did at the Pier was to see an IMAX film of Circus de Sole. This presentation is a wonderful artistic display of dance and acrobatics portrayed in various settings around the United States. This was well worth the trip to IMAX. I found a beach front on Lake Michigan so I after the movie, I went to the beach.

Just before we left the City, we went to the tallest building in the world, the Sears Tower. The Sears Tower has a roof of 1,450 feet and 2 antennas that reach another 280 feet for a grand total of 1,730 feet high. The Tower has 110 stories and has 2,232 steps from ground level to the rooftop. From the top of the tower, you can see "the world" around Chicago. Depending on the weather at the time of viewing, if it's clear, you can see for miles.. There is a beautiful view of the Lake front marinas and skyline. The elevator ride to the top is quick moving at a speed of 1600 feet per minute. It is a nice way to see the City from another perspective.

We leave Chicago and traveling south, we drive down Rt. 55. In Chicago, Rt. 80 splits toward the north and follows a northern route to Seattle. We are traveling south taking Rt. 55 toward Springfield. Route 55 is the interstate that follows adjacent to the old Rt. 66 interstate. This historic road travels from Chicago to Santa Monica California via the south route across the country. You can see Rt. 66 right next to Rt. 55. Sometimes Rt. 66 is to the east of Rt. 55, sometimes it is to the west but no matter what, there it is, Rt. 66. In St. Louis, Rt. 66 travels south again to Texas then across New Mexico, Arizona then California.

What is so amazing about this part of the country is the vast expanses of land. From each side of the highway, you can see for miles and miles. Farms stretch for minutes at a time (as we drive by) belonging to the same person. Sometimes the only large objects seen in the distance are towers of grain silos. This is the only scenery from Chicago to Springfield and even beyond to St. Louis. What is Kansas going to be like?

Springfield Illinois, the State's capitol is a very small city. It is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Our stop in Springfield was short. We arrived and unpacked in our hotel then quickly left for a summer stock theater production. The production was at the Theater in the Park in New Salem, the childhood home of Abe Lincoln. The production we saw was Big River. Unfortunately, we had to leave early because everyone was tired and it was getting late. The production was quite good and weather was warm and pleasant but lots of bugs.

St. Louis, St. Louis, the Gateway to the West---here we come.

Ciao, Cathi

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