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Monday, April 30, 2018

A new state of mind.....

6:43 am - Monday - April 30th - Marshall, IL - 36º F, 77% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies with a forecast high for today of 71º F.  We roll our wheels in 90 minutes.....into Indiana, and maybe even Ohio!

We took our time getting ready to depart the Oakville, MO Elks Lodge and were finally on our way by 9:50 am rolling ever northeast on I-70.  Within 5 minutes we had crossed the Mississippi going eastward for the first time in over 4 years into Illinois.  We had a modest driving goal Sunday of 171 miles to a small Illinois town called Marshall where we would exit to spend the night at Lincoln Trails State Park where a blog follower is hosting for the summer.  I had gotten a text a few days ago offering a pull through site from Ed and his wife Jackie who have been reading our blog for almost as long as I have been writing it.....but I get ahead of myself.

The Illinois (our sixth state on this trip) version of I-70 was smooth and flat.....very little up and down.....my kind of road!  All in all it was a rather unremarkable day completely without drama.  We stopped at a couple of Rest Areas to take breaks and were getting off the Interstate in Marshall about 1:30 pm....





......Lincoln Trails State Park is located about 5 miles south of I-70.  The road is a straight and smooth 2 lane road, and the entrance to the park is easy to navigate for our 62'.  Since we have not dumped our black tank since Oklahoma, or our grey tank for that matter, our first order of business was to utilize the dump station located right at the entrance, and also take on fresh water as we were down to 80 gallons....not low by any means, but you never know when fresh water will be available again so you take what is available.

As I filled our fresh water tank Ed walked over from his camp host site to introduce himself, and explain the layout of the park.  Since it was Sunday most folks with workaday lives had already left leaving 90% of the pull through sites available for us.  There are a lot of trees in this park, which is pretty typical of the countryside we drove through Monday so it appeared to me that satellite reception might be an issue, and it was. Oh well, we can live without TV for one night.  Additionally, the broadband is a little weak here....we could get about 1 bar of LTE.....sometimes 2.....so streaming TV was not an option either.  At any rate, we found a good pull through site and hooked up to 50 amp electrical.  There are no water, or sewer hookups, but the 50 amp is strong, and steady.

The park is almost empty....we are all by ourselves in the last pull through site

Around 4:30 pm we walked over to Ed and Jackie's site to chat, and eventually have pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.  The pulled pork was delicious!  We ate and talked until after 7 pm before we walked home to change clothes and return about 8 pm for a fire and smores.  We enjoyed the fire and continued talking until after 10 pm.  Since we enter Indiana Monday where they are on Eastern Daylight Savings Time it was really 11 pm, so we bid our adieus, and headed home for the evening.  Ed and Jackie are typical of the blog readers we have met over the years....good, salt of the earth people who are engaging and enjoyable to be around.  After just a few hours we felt like we had known them for years.  We also enjoyed meeting their 9 year old female collie, Sheba.

It took us a while to wind down after all that stimulating conversation, but we were in bed by 11 pm (really 12 am, right?).  We're going to walk down to Ed and Jackie's site in just a few minutes to have breakfast them......Ed is a 'renowned' crepe maker!

 Ed making crepes Monday morning

Sheba the collie....very sweet, quiet dog!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Just ducky!

7:29 am - Sunday - April 29th - St. Louis, MO - 43º F, 50% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the east.....clear blue skies with a forecast high today of 65º F, which we will not experience, because we are rolling our wheels in about 3 hours!

We've been running all over St. Louis and surrounds for several days now, but had ignored cool stuff right near where we were staying, such as the Jefferson Barracks, The Jefferson Barracks Civil War Museum, and last, but not least......the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum!  All of this was less than 4 miles from us, so we set off in the VW to explore a little history about 11 am.

The history of Jefferson Barracks dates back to 1826.  It was, of course, named for Thomas Jefferson, and is the oldest operating military installation west of the Mississippi.........barely west of the Mississippi sitting right on the western banks of same.  During the Civil War it served as a large military hospital treating wounded from both the north and south.  Over the course of the war they treated over 26,000 wounded soldiers.  Many were brought from battlefields up the Mississippi on hospital ships.  Today it houses the Missouri National Guard.




Just down the street from the parking lot is something you might not expect to be on the grounds of a military base.....the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum.  It occupies a restored 1896 building and is run by the Telecom Pioneers.  While the museum occupies probably less than 2,000 square feet, it is the most complete telephone museum I have ever visited.....





......we saw several telephones we had actually owned at one time.  The price of admission is $4/person if you are over 60 years of age.  Next up was the Jefferson Barracks Missouri Civil War Museum.   This museum presents the history of the Civil War from the Missouri perspective, and is well worth the senior citizen entry fee of $6/person.  We are not normally willing to pay to get into museums, but both of these are well worth the price of admission......



.....Missouri, naturally, was at the center of the 'Missouri Compromise of 1820', which prohibited slavery above the 36th parallel.  This compromise enabled the admission to the Union of Maine, a 'Free State', and Missouri as a 'Slave State', and helped maintain the balance of power between North and South.....


....it was ultimately repealed by the Compromise of 1850, which changed all the rules and led to wide spread unrest, and ultimately was an instigating factor in the outbreak of the Civil War......




.....with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency all hope of avoiding a Civil War was lost.  I found the two floor exhibit quite informative, and I learned a lot more than I knew before about the beginnings of the American Civil War.  There are several small theaters within the Museum with 5-10 minute videos which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

By this time it was going on 1:30 pm, and time to explore another restaurant.  A week, or so ago we were watching 'Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (aka: Triple D) and one of the segments featured a small local St. Louis eatery called 'The Shaved Duck' which specializes in BBQ, and has a few duck related items on the menu.  On the show they featured an entree called Smoked Meatloaf, and we just had to have some of that!!  We arrived just after 2 pm and found the restaurant about 90% full.  We were quickly shown to a window table and placed our drink orders......


 This place was featured on 'Triple D' last week (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives)

 I had a pint of the Heavy Riff - Brown Ale

.....I ordered a pint of their Brown Ale, and what a great choice it was.  Next up we ordered one of their appetizers....Burnt Ends......OMG......I cherished every single bite......

 Smoked Ends appetizer slow smoked for many hours, served with with Black Isle BBQ Sauce....OMG!

 We ate there the other night

....for our entree we ordered a serving of their 'Smoked Meatloaf' to share.  The meatloaf was so savory, with many layers of flavor....I took small bites to make it last as long as I could....

Smoked Meatloaf with a root beer glaze.....triple OMG!!!

.....it was well after 3 mph before we paid our bill and walked lazily back to the VW still talking about the amazing Smoked Meatloaf.

We made a stop at the local COSTCO to pick up a few things, and were home just before 5 pm.  A nice nap was on the card for me, and TLE read away the rest of the afternoon and early evening.  It was a great last day in St. Louis with us having checked everything off our list of things we wanted to do this time around. Time to continue our journey to Maine!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

In a pickle......

8:21 am - Saturday - April 28th - St. Louis, MO - 48º F, 60% humidity, wind 11 mph out of the north......yup....can see the flags at the lodge flying......clear blue skies with a forecast high of 63º F......


As I mentioned at the end of my blog post yesterday we had a date to go hiking with Creig and Kay at a little place about 70 miles south of St. Louis called Pickle Springs.  It is a National Natural Landmark....the first one I have ever visited, but I get ahead of myself.

 Pickle Springs is a National Natural Landmark

We had agreed to meet up with Creig and Kay at a local Denny's around 10 am for a late breakfast, then head south to Pickle Springs to hike.  After a good breakfast and even better conversation we got in Creig and Kay's Ford Escape (leaving our VW behind) for the 70+ mile drive south, arriving at the Pickle Springs trailhead about 12:15 pm........

The obligatory pre-hike usie....


.....after a pre-hike 'usie' and examining the trail map we headed out on our hike.  Spring has not yet completely arrived at Pickle Springs, and the trees were still not sporting any leaves.....


......within minutes we arrived at the first interesting feature called the 'slot'.....


 

....next up was a water feature.......really just a trickle, but the layered limestone was everywhere......



......next up where the 'double arches''.....I say next up because it was here that we took a wrong turn inadvertently adding about .9 tenths of a mile to our original 2 mile hike.  Eventually we figured out our mistake and back tracked to the original water fall and soon found ourselves staring at the Double Arches.....

 ↑Double Arch....oh yeah, there's the sign↓

.....these stairs were provided to help us get safely down to view the Double Arch......



.....there were numerous bridges to aid the hiker in crossing the numerous clear water streams flowing across the trail.....


......then there was terrapin rock......yes, I have to admit it.....it does look like a giant turtle....


....as we neared the end of our hike we came upon the loveliest waterfall of them all gently flowing over a large ledge of limestone into a large pool full of small fingerling fish......




.....around 2:30 pm we arrived back at the parking lot after a 2.9 mile hike.  The is the first real hike I have taken since my stroke back in late December.....it was good to get my legs unlimbered!

A very relaxed 32 minutes a mile

Within minutes we were in the car headed back north to Arnold, MO where our VW was awaiting our arrival, but first we stopped off at a local BBQ place for an early dinner around 4:30......we had a lovely dinner talking non-stop about the day's adventure and our time with Creig and Kay.  By 5:30 we were back in the VW heading for the barn with big smiles of satisfaction pasted across our collective faces.

It has been a very enjoyable 3 days visiting with Creig, Kay and family with the highlight being our hike Friday.  It has also been nice sitting in one place for this time.  We'll be here in St. Louis for one more day before we pull anchor and continue our inevitable trek to Newe England for the summer.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Arch....

7:04 am - Friday - April 27th - St. Louis, MO - 50º F, 87% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies with a forecast high of 71º F.

First of all, it has been nice to be sitting still for a few days after moving daily for 9 straight days.  We are parked in beautiful surroundings.....


....it is quiet and almost pastoral here at the Oakville Elks Lodge.

We were here in St. Louis back in the mid 80's when we had just 3 children and visited the St. Louis Gateway Arch National Park at that time, but it has been over 30 years, and we thought it would be fun to visit again, and spend more time in and around this amazing structure, but I get ahead of myself.

It has been a while since I washed and detailed the Newell.  I think the last time was on our way to the Grand Canyon from Yellowstone at Downata Hot Springs in southern Idaho last October.....it was definitely due.  The weather was delightful so I spent about 2 hours washing and drying the exterior of the Newell, and it came out quite well......



......she's got a smile on her face again, and her ALCOA wheels have a sparkle to them once again!

We were off on our drive over to the Gateway Arch around 1 pm.  It takes a little over 30 minutes in traffic to get there, but visiting on a Wednesday meant it would not be crowded, and it was not.  We found a parking spot ($6) down by the waterfront and then walked up to the Visitor Center to buy our admission tickets ($20 with our National Park Pass).  The Gateway Arch was originally conceived in the early 40's, and finally completed in 1965.  Not one person lost their life in the construction.  There is a theater inside the Visitor Center (Tucker Theater) where you can watch a 30 minute movie (Monument to the Dream.....click on this YouTube link to view a portion of the movie) about the history, and construction of the Arch.....it is totally fascinating......

Very few cars in the riverside parking lot

......our tickets to ride to the top of the Arch were for 2:10 pm, so we walked around the arch for about 15 minutes before heading inside to get on the funky elevator.....





......we were assigned to elevator #5 (Ride to the Top....click on this YouTube link to view how the 'elevator' works).....they are quite small inside, and seat just 5 people each....

Our 'capsule'

......you can ride the elevator capsules up either the south, or north leg....we went up the north leg.  As the capsule ascends the leg, which is, obviously curved, the capsule periodically adjusts itself so it stays vertical to the ground.

The views from the viewing deck, 630' above the ground, are spectacular as one might imagine......

 The Cardinals were playing a 'day' game Thursday

 The old courthouse


 At the top

 The entire viewing area about 100' long, and you must lean over to look out the windows

 The Hyatt Regency hotel is to the right of the old courthouse


 


....by the time we finished with our tour it was closing in on 3 pm and we were both hungry so we stopped by a local Starbucks located in the Hyatt Regency hotel in the picture above.  We both got coffees, and a bagel for moi, and a scone for TLE.

After our coffee we spent some more time walking around the arch and capturing it from different angles......



 My favorite picture of the day



 Big barge being pushed up the Mississippi

.....we were back in the Beetle heading for home by 4:15 pm.  We had a dinner date with Creig and Kay's family at their home at 6 pm, so we were back on our way over to their home by 5:20, arriving there right at 6 pm (rush hour traffic slows things down a lot).  We spent a couple of hours with Creig, Kay, Jessica and Kaytlin (and their significant others....Zach and Steven).  It was such a perfect evening we sat outside eating until almost 8 pm before the evening chill chased us inside.

Left to right: Moi, Creig, Kay, Kaytlin, Zach, Steven, Jess and TLE

One of the benefits of our lifestyle is being able to visit with our relatives across the country on a more regular basis than we did when we were stuck in our workaday lives.  It was truly a pleasure to spend time with Creig and Kay's amazing daughters.

We were home just before 9 pm, and in bed by 10:30.....we'll be going hiking Friday with Creig and Kay.....looking forward to it!  Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defer the costs of producing this blog each day.