As we headed out of Tulsa towards St. Louis, MO, somehow we got on the wrong highway (this is our first day without a Trip Tik map from AAA). We quickly turned around and found our way back. Tulsa looks like it has been hit hard by the economic downturn with many boarded up businesses along the route.
9:00 a.m. Exited Tulsa, heavy rain and lightning
Best road sign in OK: Do not drive into smoke. Huh?
More rolling hills and oak and other deciduous trees. This is a lovely part of the country.
9:40 a.m. Toll booths--we've outrun the storm after some very severe rain and excellent (though white knuckle) driving.
10:15 Missouri welcomes us! High clouds, 73*
We quickly took exit one and drove the 1/2 mile to cross the Kansas state line, u-turned and headed back out to the interstate. Matt remembers with regret not driving the 18 miles into Montana when he was a kid on a cross country road trip and decided to not miss the opportunity to pass into another state. We are in the Ozark mountains (though they look more like hills to me) and are quite scenic and lush with large queen-anne's lace-filled meadows (and cows).
11:25 a.m. Springfield, MO, Cloudy 79*
Owen's complaining of a tummy ache. Willa explained that that's what happens when you ride in the third row and that yesterday she "barfed in my mouth a couple of times." Lovely.
12:36 Pit stop somewhere in MO at a route 66 themed rest stop and welcome center. We've learned that these generally have the best amenities, including clean bathrooms, picnic areas and even dog parks and playgrounds. This one had a mock route 66 path, lined with businesses (roofed picnic tables). We ate our lunch in a car repair shop and afterwards the kids ran up and down the "road" with the dog burning some energy while visiting each shop.
Best MO sign: "Hit a worker, $10,000 fine, lose your license."
1:45 p.m. St. Louis 100 miles away. Clouds and sun, 81* and muggy
This stretch of road is a bizarre mix of Route 66 nostalgic diners and shops, adult video stores (even a men's spa--yuck) and ranches with tin-roofed farmhouses...and wineries.
2:33 p.m. We've been in a traffic stop on the Interstate for 10 minutes so far. There are only about 50 cars in front of us, but we can't quite figure out what is happening.
2:42 p.m. We're moving again. Apparently the road narrowed so much so that a truck and RV got stuck together on a bridge. Fantastic.
3:25 p.m. We can see the famous St. Louis arch, then shortly thereafter, cross into Illinois. Next stop: Cahokia.
3:32 p.m. Arrival at Cahokia. We had a lovely time exploring the smallish interpretive center where we learned all about this Mississippian culture that thrived around 1000 AD. They built huge mounds on the site for ceremonial and other purposes. At its peak, about 20,000 people lived in its jurisdiction, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time. The largest mound, Monk's Mound, took 300 years to complete and was the home of the chief. Its footprint is larger than any other pyramid structure at 14 acres and it stands about 100 feet tall. We climbed to the top, which gave a spectacular view of St. Louis and several other smaller mounds in the vicinity.
It felt really good to climb all those stairs (144) after sitting in the car for so many hours.
5:10 Departing Cahokia, looking for a Cracker Barrel. Matt's lamenting the 65 MPH speed limit. We see one! Exiting the Interstate...
6:40 Left Cracker Barrel (classic southern comfort food where veggie sides to choose from include mac and cheese, fried cinnamon apples, and mashed potatoes), $100 poorer. Dinner wasn't so expensive, but there is an adorable little gift shop with country "treasures and toys" attached. So everyone needed a little treat. Willa got a battery operated hamster that runs around a little wheel...and a whoopie cushion, Ben got a bubble gun, Owen got another Webkins, I got some peanut butter balls, and Matt got a book that is so incredibly perfect for him called "The Next Exit" that details each amenity at each exit on every major interstate in the country.
8:37---9:37 (Eastern time) Welcome to Indiana! 75* and Cloudy
10:20 p.m. Arrive at the Days Inn in Cloverdale Indiana
It is a huge step up from the Motel 6s we've been staying at. The room seems HUGE, it has a fridge, a microwave, a coffee pot and a HAIR DRIER!!! I am so thrilled, but a little surprised that we lost yet another hour....ugh.
Miles traveled: 600. Kids are still in amazingly good spirits.