Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moving on Down the Road to Jefferson City, Missouri - Fri., Oct. 24

Around 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, we headed out of the Illinois State Fairgrounds toward Jefferson City, Missouri. Most of our trip has been to places new to us, so we enjoyed the scenery along the way.

As we neared St. Louis, we turned west on I-270 to bypass St. Louis to the north. (St. Louis will be a trip in the future for us.) It was time to cross the mighty Mississippi. First, though, we came to the Chain of Rocks Canal and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. History is quite fascinating in this area. 

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge (green in the photo below) was privately built in 1929 as a toll bridge at a cost of $3 million. Bypass US Route 66 was designated over this bridge to the north of St. Louis so travelers could avoid downtown traffic. (City U.S. 66 continued to cross the Mississippi River over the MacArthur Bridge.)

Unique to the old bridge was a 22-degree bend occurring at the middle of the crossing. The bridge's name comes from a large shoal or rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks which made that stretch of the Mississippi dangerous to navigate. After 1940, only a single impediment prevented the safe and reliable 9-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana - the Chain of Rocks Reach.

The Reach was a 17-mile series of rock ledges that began just north of St. Louis and was extremely treacherous to navigate. From the late 1940s through early 1950s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built an 8.4-mile-long bypass canal. To ensure adequate depths in the new canal, a non-movable, low-water dam was constructed just below the north end of the canal and a lock was constructed at the south end of the canal.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge - now a ped/bike bridge (left);
new I-270 bridge (right)

Barge safely navigating the Chain of Rocks Canal
In 1966, a new bridge was built just to the north of the old bridge. The old Chain of Rocks Bridge closed and fell into disrepair over three decades. The high cost of demolition delayed that outcome until a new use was found. In 1981 the old bridge was used in the filming of Escape from New York billed as the "69th Street Bridge."

It wasn't until 1998 that the bridge was leased to Trailnet, a local trails group, to operate. The price to renovate the bridge for pedestrian and cycling use was $4.5 million. The old bridge can be accessed from either the Illinois or Missouri side of the bridge.

After we crossed the Chain of Rocks Canal, our next crossing was the Mississippi River. I was driving, so Bob took the river photos on this part of our trip.

Crossing the Mississippi River
As soon as we crossed the river, we stopped for information at the Missouri Welcome Center. David greeted us warmly as we walked in. He was chock full of information about St. Louis and Branson. We left there armed with maps, brochures, and restaurant recommendations. He also told us about the Hwy. 370 bypass to the north of I-270, said it was less traveled than I-270.

At the Welcome Center, Bob took over driving the rest of the way to Jefferson City, Missouri. We followed David's advice and took Hwy. 370 around to the north. Hwy. 370 was definitely well traveled. I'm wondering how crowded I-270 must be, since this route had as many travelers as it did. While on State Route 370, we crossed the Missouri River. (My turn to take photos.)
Missouri River, looking north
Missouri River Bridge
The rest of our drive to Jefferson City was without incident. The place we stayed, Mari-Osa Delta Campground, was 13 miles east of Jefferson City. On the way to it, we passed a WalMart. Once we we had the 5er unhooked, Bob took the grocery list and headed back to WalMart. By the time he came back, it was pitch black outside. He missed the turn off to the campground and drove over five miles before he realized he had gone too far. Oops.

Our impression of Mari-Osa Delta Campground wasn't the best. The campsites are disorganized and have no numbers. The manager came out and showed us where to park by walking in front of our truck. He didn't walk very fast. The campground office/store was well stocked with fishing supplies, i.e., lures, bait, line, sinkers, bobbers. The park is at the confluence of the Osage and Maries Rivers and obviously the park caters to fishermen. It was an odd campground, but we only had one night there.

Tomorrow, Jefferson City Volksmarch and the state Capitol.

Travel Bug out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shake, Rattle and Roll - Fri., Oct. 24

No, we didn't visit a rock 'n' roll museum. It came on rather suddenly. One minute we're driving down the highway from Springfield, Illinois toward Jefferson City, Missouri, and the rig is handling smoothly. Then, we noticed a shake in the front end of the pick-up truck. We made it to our campground outside Jefferson City, and did a walk around to check all four tires for bubbles or anything obvious. We didn't see anything, but it didn't go away.

Mari-Osa Delta RV Park

Our site at Mari-Osa Delta RV Park - no river view for us
Osage River flows past Mari-Osa Delta
After we unhitched the fifth wheel and drove back and forth to Jefferson City to visit the Capitol and then to do the Volksmarch the next morning, we noticed the truck shaking became worse. Water bottles in the cup holders were doing a St. Vitus' Dance, shaking uncontrollably and driving me crazy.

We made the decision to continue to Branson, Missouri. In addition to our shaking pick-up truck, we also had to deal with roller-coaster like highways, going up and down steep grades for miles. I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to Branson.

Driving around Branson for two days did not improve the problem with the shaking. We thought it might be tie rods or something else to do with suspension. At first we thought we could make it to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Bob had an appointment set up with a shop in Little Rock to do a diagnostic on our truck's problem.

On thinking it through further, Bob decided it would be best to have the truck diagnosed in Branson. The morning we were set to check out of our RV park, he was up early and took the truck first to a suspension shop. The man who worked there thought it wasn't the suspension, and was going to put it up on his rack. Then he took one more look at it and said it was our front tires. He could tell there was a bubble in one of them. Since they were a suspension shop only, Bob went to a tire shop.

Sure enough, there was a bubble in one of our front tires. They happened to have the exact same tires in stock that were already on the truck. Bob had two new tires put on the rear and the old rear tires were moved up to the front. He was back at the 5th wheel by 9:30 a.m. We were able to check out on time and head to Little Rock.

End of shake, rattle and roll, except, of course, for the music on the radio.

I will write blogs to cover our time in Jefferson City and Branson, Missouri...possibly tomorrow night. Currently we are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tomorrow, we head to Lake o' the Pines, Texas for one night. We plan to drive over to see Caddo Lake as well. Friday night in Livingston, Texas, and then back to San Antonio on Saturday.

Travel Bug out.

Lincoln Palooza - Springfield, Illinois - Thurs., Oct. 23, 2014

If you thought yesterday was busy, wait until you see what we did today! Bob was still feeling a little under the weather but he wanted to see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the inside of the state Capitol. We decided to do those two things first, then see how he felt. If he felt okay, he would finish the Volksmarch with me; if not, he would drop me off where we left off on the walk yesterday and then go back to the 5th wheel to rest.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is awesome. It takes you from Abraham's boyhood log cabin, into the debate about slavery, through his years as a lawyer and father, the Emancipation Proclamation years, his Presidency, and his final moments. The layout, flow and content of the museum is outstanding.

Bob reading about Lincoln's childhood in front of a log cabin replica.
The horrible realities of slavery -
selling human beings and breaking families apart.
Abraham and Mary at home in their sitting room.
Abraham would take his boys Willie and Tad to his law office. They were known to be a bit wild and their dad would turn a blind eye to their shenanigans.

Lincoln reading while the kids wreak havoc.

Once Abraham Lincoln was elected President, it was time to move to the White House in Washington, D.C. Society mavens were not kind to Mary Todd Lincoln. They ridiculed her even though she was from a prominent family in the South.

Fierce political jokes made fun of the new President. The walls were lined with political cartoons showing Lincoln as the Devil, a black in disguise, and many more derogatory lampoons. The following "joke" shows many Lilliputian office seekers looking for political assignments. Lincoln, as Gulliver is overwhelmed.

Political cartoon
When Lincoln was inaugurated, he promised he would not fire the first shot in a war, the South would have to fire the first shot. And they did. So the Civil War began at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina.
Ft. Sumter, where the Civil War began.
Work began in earnest on the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln worked on it mostly by himself, then sprang it on his Cabinet. Much discussion ensued.

Discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation

To Lincoln it was not a matter of "if" the Emancipation Proclamation would become law, but "when" and "how." He was convinced by his cabinet to wait to issue the proclamation after the Union had a victory.

There is so much in this museum. I will put in a couple more photos, but you really need to experience it for yourself.

The War Gallery
Photos of Lincoln aging while in office.
Lincoln re-elected President
John Wilkes Booth sneaking into the box seats
to assassinate President Lincoln
At the end of the exhibits, I found a very concise quote from Lincoln about lawsuits. If only people would be reasonable and work out their differences rather than suing someone.

We spent 2-1/2 hours in the museum and it was worth every bit of the $15 per person admission fee.

Then we were off to tour the Illinois state capital. The current Illinois Capitol is the sixth state capital building. Started in 1868, it took more than 20 years to complete at a cost of 4.5 million. This limestone Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed in the shape of a Latin cross and is capped by a 361-foot-high dome. The building is 74' taller than the U.S. Capitol. We took a 1/2 hour tour.

The Rotunda dome
Luxurious marble staircases
"Illinois Welcomes the World"

House Gallery
The Rotunda
A massive 40' x 20' painting is being restored in the Grand Staircase.


Ceiling in House
Rotunda railing
Grand Staircase
Notice the two statues that grace the Grand Staircase. When the Capitol was built, the two statues you see here were supposed to be installed in the Grand Staircase. However, the Illinois Statehouse Commissioners in 1874 decided the statues were too scantily clad and refused to install them.

Iowa Governor Cyrus Clay and his Statehouse Commissioners took the statues and placed them in the Des Moines Capitol. 150 years later Illinois contacted Iowa and asked for the statues back. Iowa said, "No." Illinois had the statues copied and now have reproductions of the original statues.
Grand Staircase
Governor's office
Supreme Court
South hall of the second floor
Ceiling in Supreme Court room
In their restoration effort, layers of paint are being removed to find the original art underneath which is then restored.

Old artwork uncovered under layers of paint
The inside of the dome is very impressive. There are columns, painted ceiling, and a plaster bas-relief frieze painted to look like bronze.

With that, our tour concluded. Outside, I took photos of the top of the dome.

While most Capitol domes we have seen have a figure on top of the dome, the Illinois Capitol has flags. In order to put up and take down the flags, there is a ladder on top of the Illinois dome.
Ladder atop the Illinois Capitol dome
Bob was exhausted and decided not to finish the Volksmarch with me. He dropped me off on the street where we had stopped yesterday. I spent the next hour finishing the walk.

Capitol dome
Squirrels are everywhere!
Lincoln's home

In the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church above stands the original pew of the Abraham Lincoln Family.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
The Old State Capitol (1839-1876)
Other facts learned from today's Volksmarch:
  •  Lincoln Square in Springfield, Illinois marks the departure point of the Donner party on April 15, 1846 on their ill-fated trip to California.
  • Potawatomi Trail of Death: On September 28, 1838, 800 Potawatomi Indians marched through Springfield on the forced removal from Indiana to Kansas.
Bob was waiting for me when I finished walking. We had dinner at Sgt. Pepper's Cafe. The food was okay. What I really liked was the decor and the music they played.

With that, we called it a day. Travel Bug out.