After the easy trip to Arkansas and pleasant visit with Mom and other family, Hana and I headed out to Springfield, IL to visit an old friend and former professor and check out where I did my undergraduate work.
Despite being the capitol of Illinois, Springfield has the vibe and mentality of a small town, one that was born thanks to some transportation hub or industry, and now hanging on by a thread thanks to new transportation technology or offshoring, except that, insofar as it’s the capitol, Springfield is unlikely to die off any time soon.
Anyway, we started out from Eureka in the early morning, and wound our way through Northwestern Arkansas into Missouri, past Branson, then across I 80 to St. Louis. If I recall, my darling adorable wife wasn’t quite the fan of all the graffiti along the highway, but I quite liked it: a crushed highway is so much more visually stimulating than a plain old concrete one.
Other than the graffiti, the trip was more or less uneventful.
We took our time getting to Springfield, and pretty much coasted into town on fumes. I was almost positive I shot some film at the gas station where I used to run for suitcases and 30s of Miller Lite or High Life back in college, but if I did, they disappeared from the roll.
It was great to see Mike. He’s aged a bit, and so have I. He’s now tenured and the chair of Art, Music, and Theater, and he’s working on some interesting collaborative stuff and winding up a body of work around drones.
He probably doesn’t much appreciate this picture. Sorry, Mike.
He won’t much like this one either, but I do…
That’s kinda how I feel about Springfield…
After a nice visit with Mike, we drove into town, checked into the Hilton (colloquially known as the, pardon me, “Prairie Penis” or “Prick of the Prairie” due to 1) its shape, tall and columnar, with a bit of a swollen, ball shape on the top and 2) it being the tallest building for about a hundred miles in any direction).
I took the obligatory picture(s) of Hana getting ready. This one turned out quite nice, I think.
I shot out the window some before heading out to dinner: our room had a nice view of the Capitol building and downtown. Despite the filthy window, I couldn’t resist. I think the second building in from the corner there, the little three story red brick one, is where Mike had his studio back in 2003 and 4, and where the local Democratic headquarters was during Obama’s 2004 senate run.
Hipstamatic played a nice role here: the lo-fi-ness disguises the filthy window quite well.
After getting all relaxed and everything, Hana and I went for dinner at the Gateway to India, where, if I recall, my stepdad Hank had “the best Indian food he’d had in [awhile… the US… ever… something like that]” back in 2004 or 5.
The appetizer was re-fried fried stuff, and too much of it. Hana and I ate about 10% of it, then offered the rest to a group of Saudi kids from the University.
They (wisely) didn’t accept.
A long time later, our dinner came. Hana had a curry with prawns that she didn’t care for much, and I had fish tikka, which was delicious (the one small piece I had). We boxed the rest up for brunch the next day and rushed across town to the Islamic Center of Springfield.
Springfield has a masjid?!?! Who knew?
Except that it was locked up tight, for Maghrib, on a Sunday.
And that, my friends, is three years in Springfield, IL in a nutshell: a leisurely drive to a nice-enough restaurant where reheated, and not very tasty appetizers preceded a rather tasty dinner that we were in too much of a rush to eat, and then went to the masjid to worship Allah, but found it locked up tight.
So we went back to the hotel, prayed, and watched the sunset over the prairie.
We ended the night with a bit of tele before bed. It was all in all a pleasant, if slightly disappointing, day.
Tomorrow… to Chicago!