Wednesday, February 12, 2014

US50 Phase 1: Getting back to the west side of the Mississippi

Oct 8: I left the Nashville IN area this morning and rejoined US50.
I left a little early but, just like I found in Montgomery AL, the morning rush in Bloomington, which I had to go right through to get where I needed to be, was pretty much a non-issue.
It was pretty foggy through the morning but from what I could see of the land south of Bloomington it was pleasantly rolling with a few pockets of steepness.
Once I turned west on US50 the steepness gradually got a little less prominent until it pretty much just flattened out at the Illinois border.
Right in the middle of that nothingness at the Illinois border, right here in the middle of the country, on the flood-plain side of the Wabash River with no harbor or significant airport within hours, I saw a big sign for the Lawrenceville free-trade port. It seemed a bit strange so I looked it up. According to Wikki a free trade zone is "an area within which goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and reexported without the intervention of the customs authorities"
I'm not sure where they are landing from, what they are doing to it and how they are re-exporting whatever it is, but there it is. right in the middle of the country. . .
One good thing to note is that I am now back in Central Time Zone. After all these years of living in it I guess it just feels right and my body clock was not tuned all that well to Eastern time.
On my way across Illinois I made a side trip into Olney because I had read they had a large population of albino squirrels in the town square. I'm not even sure I found the town square and never did see any red-eyed squirrels. . . but it was a nice interlude.
But then I had to I grit my teeth, tighten my grip on the steering wheel, negotiate the traffic; and a construction detour; to punch my way through to the southwest corner of St Louis before stopping for the night so I would be heading away from the city, and the traffic, in the morning.
Oct 9: South bank of the Missouri River
Drove around the area south of the Missouri river between St Louis and Jeff City today. I've been by the area many times but never took the time to explore before. Started by driving through the town of Union, which I would consider a far western suburb of St Louis, drove US50 west as far as SR19 which I took north to the river town of Herman.
Herman, being on the bluff side of the river, was pretty steep. The city park is squeezed between the river and the Amtrak station, which is squeezed between the bluffs and the river. I wandered around, took a few photos, then doubled back by heading east along the river.
I went as far as Washington before dropping south to pick up US50 again in Union. Heading east it was easy to see that Washington and Union are close enough to St. Louis to draw some of the money, and increased population, of the city.
This time, as I headed west on US50 I stayed on it as far as Jeff city, but then left it again and headed north the 30 miles or so to Columbia where I stopped in a campground I’ve been at before just on the north side of the town.
An hour or so later I got picked up and chauffeured to the Chinese buffet in Columbia by my wife's sisters and family, Gail, John and Tammie. JR managed to join us as well. It was still early when we finished so instead of going right back to the campground I went over to Gail and John’s house for a bit before Tammy dropped me off at the campgroud on her way home for the night.
Out of one family gathering right into another!!


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