Tuesday, July 10, 2018

An "Epic" Hometown Visit

There is a popular catchphrase floating around Rochester, Minnesota these days.
The traditional definition refers to a long narrative (and sometimes rhyming) poem recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero. The more modern use of the word "Epic" refers to something that is outstanding, fabulous or impressive. And with the arrival of Epic Systems Corporation's new electronic medical record (EMR) at my supplemental workplace Mayo Clinic, I added a third definition: It is "Epic" that everything that I need to know about my patient is in the electronic chart ... somewhere!

During my 35 years as a nurse at Mayo Clinic, I have seen quite a bit of change. While I did not have to chart on stone tablets, I do recall "paper charting". When Mayo first converted to an EMR over 20 years ago, I volunteered to become one of the "super users", not because I knew so much about computers, but rather so I could attend the training classes more than once. Seeing the advantages as well as the flaws of the arrival of computers into my medical workplace intrigued me ... and so when Mayo announced that they were converting over to the Epic system, it gave me the desire to come back to learn something new.

Time to teach this old nurse new tricks!

Because of the extra training involved, we decided to stay in Rochester for seven weeks. We divided our time between Autumn Woods RV Park and Chester Woods County Park.

Autumn Woods RV Park caters to Mayo Clinic visitors, and we had the pleasure of getting to know our delightful neighbors and new friends, Mitzi and Dan. Dan was a good "supervisor" as Doug tackled some RV repair projects while I was at work.

Beautiful repair work around the window,
guys! Unfortunately, it still leaks ...

The park has reasonable monthly rates as well as full hook up sites and convenient laundry and shower facilities. Located next to a main highway leading into town, it provided quick access to work ... but also a constant "hum" of traffic.

We began and ended our stay in Rochester at Chester Woods County Park. Located ten miles east of town, Chester Woods campground is set in a beautiful and quiet wooded area with plenty of hiking trails and a lake for summer water activities. It has a more reasonable daily rate, but is a longer drive into town and has a ten day stay limit.

With our plan in place, there was work to be done, friends to visit, and babies to hold ... as we enjoyed every moment of our "Epic" visit to Rochester!

Memorial Day brought out the sun,
Sweet little Daniel provided the fun!

Back at Pax Christi, Doug joined in the song,
Our worship family welcomes us back to where we belong.

We have tried BBQ in the east and in the west,
But Hardy's BBQ (with a bonus visit from our son)
Is simply THE BEST!

Always a feat to be able to gather the crew,
And share stories as old friendships are renewed.

When I was at work making a little money,
Doug tackled that "to do" list that starts with "Honey"!

To reward his hard work, you can't go wrong,
With The Tap House beer list - 50 brews long!

All work and no play would not be good,
So bike rides with friends filled our free time when we could!

June brings Ella's birthday ... so happy we could show up,
Always amazing to see how fast they grow up!

And to celebrate the first year of this precious boy,
Daniel's Dino-mite Birthday brought us all joy!

Senior pictures ... Can it be true?
My dear friend Brittany ... Beautiful in blue!

Gathering to celebrate my niece's grad,
With all my siblings and her very proud dad!

Thursdays on First or concerts in the park,
So many memories with friends left their mark!

For even though far away we roam ...

the smiles,

and visits,

and treats,

and giggles,

and hospitality

of our talented,

and artistic,

and supportive

Epic Hometown Friends

Welcome us home!

Until next time ... celebrate the "epic-ness" around you ... and enjoy adventures in your life!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Land of Lincoln: Springfield, Illinois

State capitals and famous historical sights are always on my travel "radar". I was happy that we could combine the two in one stop with our visit to Springfield, Illinois. Time to explore the Land of Lincoln!

Young Abe Lincoln, the Railsplitter, greeted us as we entered our campground at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The campground was very large and quiet, and I enjoyed walking around the scenic fairgrounds. Its location was also very convenient for getting to area attractions.

Lincoln's tomb, located in Oak Ridge Cemetery, was an easy mile walk from the fairgrounds. As we approached the granite obelisk, I have to admit, I was drawn in by the elegant peacefulness of his final resting place.

As we entered the tomb we were struck by the sacred beauty of the surroundings. Bronze statues of Lincoln at various times in his life lined the marble halls.

Bronze plaques with some of Lincoln's most famous speeches hung on the walls. The words of his second inaugural address spoken just a month before he died made me pause to think. How would it have been different if he had been able to lead our country during the years immediately following the Civil War?

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, along with three of his four sons are also buried there.

My interest was piqued. What were the forces that shaped a young self-educated lawyer and politician to beat incredible odds to be elected 16th president of the United States and lead our country through one of the most pivotal events in our history?

I would get a glimpse at some answers to my question with a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in downtown Springfield.

The museum and library was located two miles from our campground ... an easy walk, and extra steps are always good! Admission was very reasonable at $12 each. As we stepped in, I was personally "greeted" by the Lincoln family.

The museum is divided into two main sections. The first area tells the story of Lincoln's early life leading up to his presidential election.

The museum's displays show how he rose from impoverished and uneducated beginnings to become a successful lawyer and politician is the new state of Illinois. It was his influence as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives that helped establish Springfield as the state's capital in 1839.

Following his surprise election in 1860, the museum's flow lead us into the White House. 

Controversial decisions such as the Emancipation Proclamation were presented through displays that make visitors feel like they are right in the middle of a heated discussion.

Stepping into Mary Lincoln's dressing room, we were also drawn into the controversies that she faced with her elaborate spending. But we were also presented with the emotional struggles that she and Abraham went through with the death of their son and the stress of the war. The museum, through powerful movies and displays, gave us a deeper appreciation for the man who would succeed in keeping our country united but who would also pay the ultimate price for this victory.

After lunch at Obed & Isaac's Microbrewery (always important to entice my "not always loving all this history" sidekick), we visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The restored 19th century neighborhood gives a glimpse into Lincoln's family life when they were homeowners in Springfield from 1844-1861. The guided tours of the twelve room house are free, but you have to request tickets ahead of time at the Visitor's Center. Our tour guide brought the home to life as he shared stories of Abe and his family.

A number of items in the house are originals,
but most of the house's furniture, wall and floor coverings
are replicas reflecting that era.
This is Abe's original desk minus six inches.
The neighbor who bought it from them was shorter
than Abe's 6'4" stature so he cut down the legs.
The Lincoln's sons were notorious for misbehaving.
Our guide imagined that Abe bought the "picture machine"
on the table in hopes of encouraging more "quiet" activities.

After our tour of the house, I could tell that Doug was being a trouper, but had had his fill of history for the day. One last stop remained.

Very appropriate that I get my 16th state capitol photo in the hometown of our 16th president! Our trip to Springfield, Illinois certainly made the "Land of Lincoln" come alive for us.

To quote Abe Lincoln:

Until next time ... "Whatever you are, be a good one" ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!