Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Day 18: Lincoln, NE - Mount Vernon, IL

Here are the states in which I have been today: Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois.  In fact, it's possible I went to Missouri twice as I passed a second "Welcome to Missouri" sign while circling Kansas City.

Here are some places I didn't visit, but passed fairly close to: Syracuse, Hamburg, Oregon, Savannah, Newmarket, Mexico.

I left Lincoln comparatively late and, for the second day running, in the fog.  The fog didn't last long, no, by 8 am it had turned into rain.  This scenario persisted for the next seven hours.  South-east from Lincoln, across the Mighty(ish) Missouri and into Iowa.  Southwest Iowa actually looks like the Iowa of my imagination, provided you only look at the west side of I-29.

Into Missouri and, after a while, skirt the north and east of Kansas City on I-435.  Which crosses the Mighty Missouri.  Then bear east on I-70 and, after a while, cross the Mighty Missouri a third time.  This is getting silly.

Hang a right onto I-64 to skirt some of the 'burbs of St. Louis, and cross the Mighty Missouri a fourth time.  This, mercifully, will be the final time as it flows into the Mightier Mississippi a few miles away.  I passed a sign on this section of the route:  "Town And Country, City Limit".  Well, which is it?  Chopt-logic, as Bill the Quill might have said.  At least I managed to find I-64 this year; last year I sailed right past it and almost into St. Louis before Emily noticed.

I didn't remember I-70 being this busy last year either, but there were masses of trucks tortuously overtaking one another very very slowly.  It's like the A1 in Yorkshire.  Things were not helped by the effect that the town of Columbia has on drivers.  The first bring-the-freeway-to-a-near-standstill incident was a straightforward instance of "drive an Oriental tin box into the back of something substantial; have said tin box fall to pieces on the spot".  The second, which happened just far enough up the road for everyone to get up to speed before grinding to a halt again, involved an eighteen-wheeler hitting the right side crash barrier, getting a short distance up a slip road and turning sharp right to finish with the front end in a deep ditch.

I-64 was little better.  Instead of sidling gingerly around St, Louis, embracing the margins as it were, it plunges gleefully into the middle - the Gateway Arch seems but a stone's throw from the freeway which, incidentally, sneaks across the Mighty Mississippi without even bothering to mention the fact.  However, with the foresight with which I am rarely associated, I managed to take this picture:

Part of the MacArthur Rail Bridge.  The Mighty Mississippi can just be seen between the bridge and the top of the car door.
The picture looks is crap because it was taken through the passenger window of a (slowly) moving car.  The car was moving slowly because, on the Illinois side of the Mighty Mississippi, some witless degenerate had thought to close the junction at which I-64 reasserts its independence from I-55 and I-70.  Huge queues ensue, just as the fuel warning light comes on.  By dint of non-chopt-logic I manage to find my own way back onto the 64, having refilled on the way.  And then conserved my newly-minted "gas" by cunningly slipstreaming a big rig after he overtook me.  35 miles per US gallon between East St. Louis and Mount Vernon.

On Spook: Some of you Constant Readers will know that I am a fan of virtuoso guitarist Leo Kottke, who these days resides in Minnesota.  This afternoon I passed a truck belonging to Kottke Trucking, based in Buffalo Lake, Minnesota.  That's not the Spook thing though, no.  The Spook thing was that DJ Random had just started playing one of Leo's tunes as I changed lanes to pass.  Wah!

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