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MO experiences and big rivers

Saturday was another full travel day with some interesting stops along the way. There were a few extra miles added to three of the things I wanted to see today: Jefferson City, Lake of the Ozarks, and sections of Route 66. At the end of the day, however, I think it was all worth the effort. Here are some of the highlights after departing the hotel in Warrensburg at 7:30AM.

The first stop was Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City. Lewis and Clark landed on the site where the city was eventually founded, as it is on the Missouri River. The capitol building is at the top of a bluff overlooking the river. This marked 5 state capitols visited during the trip – Kansas and Missouri were new to me, as I had been to Pierre, St. Paul, and Des Moines before. The capitol area in Jefferson City featured a sculpture of Lewis and Clark and some beautiful fountains. The downtown area is located near the capitol and seemed to have many interesting stores, although most of them were not open yet.

After departing the capital city, I headed southwest on US54 towards the Lake of the Ozarks. It seemed that everyone was heading to the lake this morning, as the traffic was hectic most of the way. Once I got away from the crowds and entered the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, it was enjoyable. It seems to be a nice park with lots of hiking trails of various lengths and difficulty levels. Finally got to see the lake at the boat dock and picnic area. Even though it’s a huge lake, I only saw this small portion.

From the park I made my way south towards a section of Route 66. It was fun to drive the roads, as there were curves and lots of going up and down hills. After being on the prairie, it felt like I was driving through a wall of trees most of the day.

I made it to Waynesville along I-44 and made my way up to Cuba. For this section, I relied on the copies of pages I made from Kay’s book about Route 66, and it proved to be helpful because the original road can be tricky to find. As it was, I ended up on the interstate for at least half the trip. However, I was able to see some interesting sites including the Devil’s Elbow, the large rocking chair, and restored motel in Cuba. Grabbed a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in Cuba mentioned in the pages I copied.

From Cuba I made my way back to Cape Girardeau so I could cross the Mississippi River there. When I drove into Cape I traversed the only road I drove on during the trip up! I was talking to Mom when I drove across the river, so that was kind of fun.

Made my way past Cairo to the place where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers converge. It was fascinating to see how the waters merged (or not). The city of Cairo, however, has to be one of the most depressing places I have ever seen in the United States. There were so many buildings in various states of decay, and the nicest building I saw was the combined junior/senior high school. It is a shame because the location near the convergence of the rivers has played such a major role in our country’s history. If you're interested in learning more about the tragic history of this city, check out the "Resources" tab, as I have provided a link to more information.

Once I crossed the bridge over the Ohio River I was in Kentucky, and it was only about thirty miles to Paducah. I checked in and unpacked before departing across the Ohio River back into Illinois thanks to a tip from my nephew, who told me about the giant statue of Superman in Metropolis! It was definitely today’s touch of Americana! I had dinner in Metropolis before returning to Paducah for the evening.

Sunday this epic journey will come to an end, but there will be at least one or two more postings! Thank you for joining me on this once in a lifetime adventure.

Mileage update:

Miles driven from Warrensburg, MO to Paducah, KY: 477.7

Total so far: 3,968.3 miles

Photo gallery:

Top row (L to R): Lewis and Clark statue; Superman in Metropolis, IL; Governor's Mansion (MO)

2nd row (L to R): Missouri's Capitol; Devil's Elbow on Route 66

3rd row (L to R): Lake of the Ozarks; Route 66 Rocking chair; Restored motel in Cuba

4th row (L to R): Shelly's Cafe in Cuba; Convergence of the Ohio (left) and Mississippi (right) Rivers; Superman in Metropolis, IL

If you are interested in seeing more pictures, you can view this album of all the photos from the route since leaving Rapid City:


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