April 14th, 15th,16th
Newton, Kansas was where we met our old friends (Harlin and Joan) from a tour we took to Europe back in 1999. I had mentioned this in the last blog, but I wanted to also talk about Newton itself. A small community, at the crossroads of two great railroad lines. I can’t, at this moment, remember either one of them, but they make a cross in the middle of town. North, South and East and West are their track directions with an average of 42 trains coming into town every day! A huge rail yard keeps them organized and heading for their destinations.
One of the side benefits of coming down to Newton was to bypass a long section of toll road on I-70, from Topeka to Kansas City. We took US 54 to I-35 and onto Kansas City. The tail wind that we had going south was gone and now we had a slight side wind.
The weather was clear, but still the temperature was unseasonably cold with a high of only 36 degrees. When the weather is like this we drive! There isn’t to much to visit in the vast prairielands of Kansas and Missouri. Our favorite dry camping locations were now on the map again. Yup, “Cracker Barrel Restaurants”. This was in Columbia, Missouri. It was a cold night outside for sure, but the furnace kept us cozy in the camper.
On Tuesday, we were off again, but this day I had an agenda. St Louis, MO. I always wanted to visit the “Gateway Arch” on the Mississippi River edge. We arrived in mid morning and again the truck camper surprised us with RV parking nearly in front of the Gateway Arch, on the river’s edge. I couldn’t believe it! $4.00 and we were the first to arrive and the attendant was nice enough to have us turn around for a quick getaway when we were ready to depart.
The second surprise of the day was that I didn’t realize that the Gateway Arch is operated by the National Park Service. (Senior Pass) Thank You! We did pay half price for the trip up the tram to the top of the Arch and a documentary film on the construction. I was impressed with the workers and the lack of OSHA. (No safety harnesses, hard hats, riding the hook up to the top and so forth)! At the top, 630 feet above the ground, we certainly could see in all directions with many windows on both sides. The ride up to the top is inside the arch. If you could imagine a Ferries Wheel gondola inside the arch with us sitting in what I would call an Easter Egg (five seats) A real neat experience.
Now, what makes the Gateway Arch so special is that it is at the gateway to the west. Everybody that wanted to explore, move or whatever, came to St Louis to start their adventure. Remember Lewis and Clark Expedition? They started here and headed up the Missouri River and headed all the way to the Pacific Ocean. On our trip to Alaska in 2012, we followed the Lewis and Clark Trail in the northern States. We actually went to their furthest point “North” in their exploration and found a Geocache! I can’t remember if it was in Montana or Idaho.
What a great experience this Gateway Arch along with the museum has brought us. We even got two different cancelation stamps for our National Park Passport book! Oh, yes, I couldn’t resist buying another hiking stick pin also. I’m really running out of hiking stick now!
After the visit, we again it the road to put miles in back of us. Another Cracker Barrel just outside of Indianapolis, IN. There was a full eclipse of the moon, that night, but I over slept and just got a sliver of a glimpse…not enough time to setup the tripod and camera.
Tonight, we are at a (guess where) for the night! A long day driving, about eight hours, but we are in Meadville, PA close to Erie, PA. We probably have one more night on the road before being home in Berlin, NH
That is what we saw and did!
Move the cursor over the pictures for captions!