25 July - 9 August 2016 Missouri

Monday 25th July

Before leaving York today to head west, we paid a visit to the Harley Davidson factory. The town and surrounding area is known for its factory tours, one example being, Hershey, the famous chocolate factory. Unfortunately, the Harley Davidson factory tours are suspended for a few weeks whilst they put in a new production line. However, we had a short talk from one of the guides and saw a film about the history of the company and how a bike is manufactured from scratch. We also got to sit on a few bikes.

From there we went into downtown York to the Camera Shop to buy a part for one of the cameras.

After lunch we packed up and left the RV Park to head north towards Harrisburg where we picked up the Pennsylvania Pike road I-76 west towards Ohio.

On our journey today we passed rolling grasslands and farms and soon started climbing into the foothills of the Appalachians, passing through three road tunnels underneath the mountains. We came off the Pike road south east of Pittsburgh and paid the toll, $37.85, wouldn’t like to pay that every day.

Crossed the state line into West Virginia,

a narrow wedge of land between Ohio and Pennsylvania. We parked at Walmart in a small place called Triadelphia, just south west of Pittsburg. The supermarket have a special parking area for large vehicles and there was no problem to park overnight. We pulled in, the only RV in a line of trucks.

It was so hot when we arrived, 34 degrees, luckily we were able to run the generator and get some air-con.

Tuesday 26th July

Just across the road from Walmart was Carvela an outdoor activities store, similar to Bass Pro. They also have stuffed wild animal displays and very big fish tank with some interesting river fish.

After finishing our shopping we headed off west on the I-70 and soon crossed the Ohio River and the state line.

Continuing west towards the state capitol, Columbus, the terrain became flat as we left the Appalachians behind us.

Passed Dayton to the south and headed to Richmond just across the state line into Indiana.

Pulled in at Walmart and parked in a nice quiet corner which we had all to ourselves. We got a good TV signal and watched some of the Democratic Convention being held in Philadelphia. Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton spoke today.

Wednesday 27th July

We had a good quiet night, no noisy trucks around us. Continued our journey west on the I-70 across Indiana. About 70 miles on we came to Indianapolis.

Passed the Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. The city is also famous for the Motor Speedway where the Indy 500 takes place each year. At the airport is the massive national distribution centre for FedEx. Indianapolis started off as a rail hub because of its central position in the Midwest and went on to become a road and air hub.

Mile after mile of farmland and corn crops as we travelled across Indiana and Illinois. Also, saw a light aircraft crop spraying.

There was a lot of trucks on the road today.

Stopped off at one of the excellent Rest Areas that are along most of the interstates.

Crossed the Mississippi River from East St Louis into Missouri and downtown St Louis. Made our way to the St Louis RV Park which is situated within the city and convenient for the downtown area. The campsite is like a big parking lot put the facilities are good and there is a small but very nice swimming pool.

Thursday 28th July

Weather is very hot and we were grateful for our air conditioning and a swim in the pool.

Managed to get Simon and Ninette on Facetime. They are in Mexico with Carlton and Wilson staying in San Miquel de Allende. Also spoke to Pete and Fiona, they are about to spend a month on motorboat Kismet touring east Holland. Pete is now fully recovered from the heart surgery he had earlier in the year. The great news is they will be coming to Baja California to spend some time with us in October.

Friday 29th July

Spent the day around camp and dipping in and out of the pool. Heavy rain this evening.

Saturday 30th July

Visit to the St Louis Galleria for a little shopping. Long queue at the Cheesecake Factory, very disappointing, must return on a quieter day.

Found a local brewery called Urban Chestnut for a drink and something to eat. They have a large outside patio where the food is cooked in a covered kitchen. Tony had ribs, apple sauce and potato salad, I had grilled peaches, salad and mozzarella. Very friendly staff. Told us what to do and see around town.

Sunday 31st July

Stayed around camp. Caught up on the blog.

Monday 1st August

Look around the 1,300 acre Forest Park this morning. A large urban park about four miles west of downtown. It was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympics. The Fair helped to popularize the hot dog and the hamburger, apparently it’s also the source of the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ a catchy phrase used by a local fruit grower. The Judy Garland film Meet me in St Louis was set around the Fair - ding ding ding went the trolley …... It is a great urban space with every outdoor leisure facility available. A real asset to the City.

Liverpool FC and AS Roma played at the Busch Stadium in St Louis this evening. Normally the home of the St Louis Cardinals Baseball team, tonight it gave way to the blue and red shirts of Roma and Liverpool. When we arrived, an hour and a half before the match, the area and the bars outside the stadium was buzzing with people. Called in at the Budweiser Brew House which was full to the rafters but we quickly got served. Met Mike and Alex at the bar, they had driven four hours from Iowa to see the match, Liverpool supporters.

As we entered the stadium there were was plenty of staff around to guide us to the right seat. All smiling, very friendly and helpful, wishing us an enjoyable night. Soccer seems quite popular in St Louis and there was a good crowd and great atmosphere. We got a drink and some Nachos to munch and sat down to watch the match. Lots of red shirts behind the goal – The Cop! It was an enjoyable match, lots of substitutes after half-time unfortunately Liverpool lost, 2-1.

Tuesday 2nd August

Had a look inside the old courthouse in St Louis, an architecturally beautiful building both inside and out.

Although thought of as a mid-western state today, in the past Missouri was a southern state and slaves worked in the fields and plains around the Missouri River. Inside the court house there was displays and information telling about the slave trade. Slaves were sold at auction on the steps of the court up until the Civil War. In 1846 the slave Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom. After many years it went to the Supreme Court and his request was denied. It is thought that this decision became one of the catalysts for the American Civil War.

Took a trip on the Mississippi in the paddle boat Tom Sawyer.

The Captain did a narration about the river and the city as we moved along.

The Mississippi is 2,340 miles long with headwaters in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. From St Louis north to St Paul the river has a serious of locks, from St Louis south it free flows down to New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico. The Missouri River flowing east meets the Mississippi eighteen miles upstream. Further downstream the Ohio River joins the Mississippi which made it possible for early explorers to travel from Pennsylvania to the far west by water. St Louis was founded in 1764 by the French and became a major fur trading centre. Lewis and Clark crop up again here, there is a statue to commemorate where they landed on the return from the west and their epic journey of discovery.

Today the river is still an important source of transport. We saw barges being filled with grain destined for New Orleans and export. The barges can take a lot of weight and it amazing to see the difference in the waterline between a full and empty barge. We traveled under a multitude of rail and road bridges, the first being a 19th century iron structure to the new suspensions road bridge.

Alongside the river is the 603 foot high landmark, Gateway Arch. Built in the 1960’s this is an awe inspiring building and the vision of architect Eero Saarinen. The Arch celebrates Thomas Jefferson and St Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the United States.

The ride to the top of the Arch was a cross between being in the spaceship from the film Alien and the Tower of Terror at MGM. From the entrance everyone descends down under-ground beneath one of the legs of the Arch. From here you are put into groups and lined up in front of small numbered doors.

These doors access the lifts that transcend the 603 feet to the top of the arch. Once the doors opened and the people descending were clear, everyone climbed into their assigned module which takes five people – not for the claustrophobic.

It took about two minutes to reach the top in our tiny pods. We climbed out of the vehicle and up a few stairs to the top of the arch. Along this space are small viewing windows with spectacular views across the river into Illinois on one side, across the City on the other and along the Mississippi. Wow! What a ride and what a view.

Our last night in St Louis and we decided to go out for dinner. We found another local brewery just a few blocks away in Locus Street called the Schlafly Tap Room. It was very busy with people of all ages. We noticed a lot coming in with exercise mats under their arms, obviously après yoga or Pilates.

This district has quite a few vacant lots where old buildings have been demolished. Back in Edwardian times we guess it would have been a warehouse and manufacturing area. Some of the old red bricks have been preserved, like the brewery building which was a printers.

Many of the old warehouses have been refurbished and tuned into condos.

Tony had his first curry (vindaloo) in the United States and it was delicious.

Wednesday 3rd August

Heavy rain and thunderstorms last night. Temperatures are cooler this morning. Met Nigel from the UK in the RV Park this morning. . He has lived in the US for eleven years. His children are here for the summer and they are touring across the mid-west following Route 66 to California.

We said good bye to St Louis today and continued our journey west. The owner and hosts were very friendly and helpful at this Park, it is a very good inner city park.

We left town on the I-64 and shortly after crossing the Missouri River

picked up the I-70 and followed the river west, heading across the state to Kansas City. Confusingly the city is in Missouri, although the state line does run through the centre and there is a Kansas City on the other side of the line in Kansas.

Fleming Park has 7,800acres of natural parkland just east of the City. Within the parkland are two large lakes, we are staying at the RV Park at the side of the 970 acre Lake Jacomo.

Thursday 4th August

Went to a shopping mall at a place called Independence just north of here. We’re stocking up ready for our stay in Mexico. On the way out we stopped to deposit the trash in the large dumpster bins positioned at the camp exit. As I lifted the lid of the bin I saw two eye and a face stare at me from the corner of the bin, it was two Raccoons. They looked quite young and were huddled together sleeping. They didn’t even look up when we opened the dumpster lid for a second time.

Friday 5th August

Another hot day, too hot to do much. Tony took Sandy for a walk down by the lake this evening and on the way saw wild turkeys and deer. In the lake there was a snake with a red diamond pattern along its back.

Saturday 6th August

Overcast this morning and cooler. Took the kayak out on the lake and tried out the small engine we have bought, it worked well.

It was also the first time Sandy had been out in the Kayaks.

Stopped off on a tiny beach at the side of the lake for a picnic lunch. Keeping a watchful eye out for snakes.

Sunday 7th August

Paid a visit to Summit Fair shopping centre in the small town of Lee’s Summit about five miles away. A nice shopping area built in street format like a shopping village rather than a shopping mall.

Monday 8th August

Kansas City has a thriving barbeque scene and this evening we went to one of the oldest, Jack Stack Barbeque restaurant. It all started as a storefront barbeque owned by the Fiorella family in Kansas City back in the 1950’s. Now into the third generation, the family own five restaurants. We had one of the ‘signature’ dishes and of course there was enough to feed a family of six, therefore, we took a box of takeout home. It was all delicious with meat so tender and just falling off the bone – well, they have had 50 years practice.

Tuesday 9th August

Early evening went into downtown Kansas City to the Power and Light district, dining, shopping, office and entertainment area. We must have chosen a quiet night because nothing was happening. There were very few people about and the bars we saw were empty or seemed closed. We did notice what seemed to be quite a few homeless people walking about and congregating in a small park. It was as if they had waited for all the office workers to go home and then they populated the streets.