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Presented with a two-hour delay for my Springfield flight, I made the best decision that any rational person of age would: I paid a friendly visit to the airport pub.

“Where are you from?” I asked the lady to my left after hearing an accent. “Chicago.” Done – my mind was leaping with questions for this Illinois resident. But her two initial answers squashed any further inquiries:

“What’s Springfield like?” “Rural.” “How far away is Springfield from Chicago?” “It takes 7-8 hours of driving from Chicago to Springfield.”

1) Can you picture the Illinois State Capitol Building residing on farmland surrounded by cows? Hmm. 2) The friend I was visiting had told me the night before that the Chicago-Springfield drive takes a maximum of 3.5 hours.

Hence, before the arrival to Springfield I had already learned that some, if not most, people in Chicago truly have no idea what this city encompasses. Time for me to discover it.

Many cities can boast of many things, but how can you compete with being the home of the first corn dog? How about serving it in the country’s first drive-up window restaurant? Back in 1946 the “Cozy-Drive-In” gloriously began this American tradition. The city has its own type of sandwich as well, the Horseshoe: toast and hamburger patty underneath a thick sheet of French fries generously covered with a cheese sauce, leaving the eater immobile for hours.

Growing up in SoCal, changes in leaf color were, well, nonexistent. I woke up to my first Springfield day absolutely mesmerized – the leaves looked verifiably artificial as they exploded with yellows and deep reds throughout a residential neighborhood a few miles outside downtown.

After walking through the excessively clean and walk-able downtown area, if one doesn’t realize that this was Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, then they are…well, unaware. His pictures, museum, signs, statues, library, homes and more are constant reminders throughout the city. A visit here without stopping at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum might be considered a sin. Here you can also get a true grasp of how close we were to becoming two separate nations. The Civil War’s outcome could have been very different if not for the vision and guidance of one Springfield, Illinois, citizen.

And no, this is not the home of the Simpsons – not verifiably anyways.

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