Today had more diversions and adventures, but the same amount of miles so it was a bit crazy! I even left the campground a bit earlier which I thought would help, but it didn’t really!
My first stop was about 150 miles down the road – the St. Louis Arch! I’d been to The Arch once before, on our way to Heavener, OK on a youth group mission trip in 1991 or maybe 1992, I cant’ remember. We stopped, got out and walked around, but couldn’t go up because it would have been a 3 hour wait or something. I drove past without stopping when I moved to Oklahoma in 1997. My plan today was to stop if I could find parking and get my passport stamped and keep moving.
Finding parking was easy! The NPS website clearly spelled out where to park and I easily found the area by following the signs to The Arch! I did have visions of the Grizwold’s when they took a wrong turn in St. Louis and found themselves in a questionable neighborhood being relieved of their hubcaps, but it was 11am so I figured I was safe! I parked Roxy right under the interstate bridge, just a few feet from the Mississippi River, and walked up to the Arch.
It was a cloudy day and there weren’t many people there, as a result, they were selling ticket for the 11:35 tram tour to the top and it was currently 11:29! WOW! No waiting! Even though this was going to make my stop take longer I purchased a ticket and headed up. They actually had room for me on the 11:30 trip up so I got booted to the head of the line! YAY for being single! I rode up with a nice family – 3 little girls and Mom and Dad. The pods to go up are teeeny. They seat 5 (one of the girls was a baby) and it’s quite cozy. It’s almost like being on a ferris wheel, the pod rocks a bit as it curves around to get to the top. You can see out the door the whole way up – so you can look at the steps and the inside of the arch. Once at the top it’s very narrow with tiny windows to look out. There wasn’t much to see today because of the clouds.
View to the east
View to the west
The sign inside said we were were 630 ft up! Wow, only 630??? I could see where I’d parked Roxy! I only spent a few minutes at the top before heading down. The trip down was faster than the trip up!
The whole arch is a tribute to westward expansion, I thought it was like the Space Needle and had been built for the World’s Fair! Silly me! Inside the visitor center was a great exhibit about Lewis and Clark! I think I want to follow their trail sometime – they went up through Missouri into the Dakotas, across Montana and Idaho and out the Columbia River!
It was almost 1 before I got back on the road after a quick “stand up” lunch (ate in my van…down by the river!!!!) and I still had about 300 miles to drive!
Indiana & Illinois were dreadful. No exits. No billboards. Just corn. Indiana did throw in some curves and hills and astronomical fuel prices in an attempt to add interested, but it wasn’t quite enough. It was kinda nice having the road mostly to myself! Just set the cruise and go! Not sure what I’m going to do when I get back to Northern Virginia and have to share the road with a million people.
Eventually I reached Louisville! Way back when Dad and I were hiking Wilder Gulch near Vail Pass we ran into some people who were from Louisville and when I told them I had to drive through Louisville to get home they told me to stop at Heine Brother’s Coffee and produced a business card that would get me a free drink. I’m not sure who this guy was and what connection he has to the chain but he did say “We” roast our own coffee. It’s all organic and fair trade! I decided that sounded interesting so I planned to stop. I’ve kept track of the free drink card for 3 weeks and it would figure that I lost it between this morning and this evening! That was ok, I didn’t need coffee at 5:00 (or rather 6:00, I crossed into Eastern Time!) in the evening. I did buy a bag of “Mocha Java” to sample!
While I was stopped at Heine Brother’s I’d also planned to stop at a grocery store to grab a few things I was out of and needed ASAP. There was a Wal-Mart “Neighborhood Market” right by the coffee shop so I ran in there. It was now almost 7 and I hadn’t had dinner and I still had an hour to go to get to the campground I was aiming for! I debating turning the generator on in the parking lot and heating something for dinner, but that was going to make it later when I got into the campground. I decided that backing into my site while there was daylight left was more important than dinner and pressed on.
I’m camping at the Kentucky Horse Park outside of Lexington. When I was 12 I went through a “horse phase” like many pre-teens. I took riding lessons at summer camp (Camp Mohawk in Litchfield, CT) and then took riding lessons when we moved to Cincinnati, until my allergies to horses got to be too much and I quit riding. During my horse phase we took a day trip from Cincinnati down to the Horse Park! I remember touring the barns and seeing all kinds of horses! I’m excited to be here again, although I may not go check out the horses this time! We’ll see…I still have 330 miles and many more diversions along the way tomorrow!
I did arrive in time to get a site and eat dinner and walk the entire campground before it was too dark! It’s a big, busy campground and I managed to select the perfect site without knowing what I was doing!