St. Louis-Chicago Trip Day 1 (long)
- From: Jeff Morrison <jeffmorrison@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 15:45:36 -0700 (PDT)
June 8: In which Fortune smiles for the first time in a long time
Route: IA 5, J5T, gravel, T61, IA 2, IA/MO 202, US 63, US 24*, US 36,
US 61, I-64
* with a Z-route up on MO 15, east on MO 15 Spur, back southwest on
24, then on Business 24 through Paris
Revisiting: July 11, 2005 (IA 5/202); multiple (US 63); April 18 and
20, 2008 (US 61)
Let's cut to the chase: My doctor nearly ordered me to take this
vacation. I have had a lot of problems with headaches recently.
Many portions of this trip are revisiting places from the past. I've
been to the Arch before; I've been to downtown Chicago before; but the
old will interweave with the new on this trip.
At S31, the road to an old bridge that I bet used to be the original
route of IA 5 has been naturally or deliberately washed out. Too bad I
didn't get there before 2010.
IA 5 uneventful aside from a detour into Maryville just to have been
there - it's one of the only incorporated places in Iowa without a
paved road connection - and then Hamilton for the threatened post
A segment of old 5 south of Albia that runs to the west of the present
route is broken - the north end had "Road Closed 500 Feet" but I
didn't see what it was.
The long segment of old 5 I omitted because I can get it some other
time. Unionville and Udell, however, are slightly different stories
because of their post offices.
"Your post office is on The List, and I just wanted to take a
picture," I explained to Unionville's postmistress, who I could see
behind the counter from outside. She knew exactly what I was talking
about. During my short time, two different cars pulled up. Udell,
meanwhile, was a different story; it's only open two hours a day, six
days a week. This is the largest(?) town in Iowa accessible only by
From there, on to Moulton, and then Coatsville, where the post officethat's visible from the state line was shut down in January.
Casey's at Queen City at 1, followed by the long waits in Kirksville
and Macon. Construction at either end of Kirksville for the bypass is
progressing. Between the south edge of town and where the bypass will
rejoin the old route is a very new Days Inn, kind of by itself. But
then, on the other side of the road, was what must have been a circa
1950s motel with every room gutted out so it looked more like an open-
air storage facility. Kirksville was also the first place I heard
I haven't clinched a US highway in a state since early August 2010,
which has been the longest since I started keeping track, but I
finally got one today - US 24 in Missouri, after passing through
Monroe City around 3:35. Now I have every US route in Missouri north
of I-70 except for US 59 between St. Joseph and the Kansas line.
Signs for the US 24 exit from EB 24/36 do not mention anything about
"To North 61." Bad move, MoDOT. It would help.
Stopped at the Hannibal Welcome Center, which at 2 miles south of the
US 36/I-72 entrance into the state (and then a left turn from SB 61)
isn't very convenient. Exchanged typical chitchat with the attendant,
and she even asked if I picked up one of those hotel coupon books. I
had very shortly before.
At this point (4:15 PM), I was feeling good and would decide what to
do in Wentzville. But I got gas in Troy instead, at which point I
decided to call some of the hotels with coupons - and it was a good
thing I did. What? Full? On a Wednesday??
In addition, I was thinking it would be better to get closer to
downtown today, so that I would have less of a drive Thursday morning
and might even keep the room. So the Super 8 at Wentzville was a
fallback, although I did go west on I-70 one exit in order to get EB
pictures of the I-64 exit. (Then I turned around again to take the
mainline US 61 through and double-check that Business 61 Wentzville
didn't exist. It doesn't, or at least it's not signed.)
Then I started on I-64. It doesn't seem like there's enough space
built in for extra lanes, but maybe the median will be eliminated. At
the Missouri River bridge, westbound traffic east of there was at a
rush-hour crawl, in part because that bridge is the older of the two
with a 50 mph limit and no shoulder. I soon forced myself to join that
crush for a short distance when I realized the exit I took was a half-
interchange and I'd have to backtrack in order to clinch. D'oh! But it
was OK, since it was 6:30...or was it? I wasn't taking any more
chances and stopped at Comfort Inn near the small airport, about a
mile west of where the Chesterfield sprawl stops. I showed the coupon
but, upon preparing to cut it out, realized that it overlapped a
coupon for another Comfort Inn that I was leaning toward Thursday
night. "You can stay another night here at that price if you want,"
the clerk said. !!! Out of curiosity, what's the price without the
coupon? $99 plus tax. !!(?)!!
So, let's see, $115 room for about $70 for two nights, and not having
to move my stuff back out tomorrow morning? What's the downside? Well,
the AC was off in the room and it was stifling. (Outside: A new St.
Louis record, 97 degrees.) I cranked it up to the max and by 10 it had
become manageable. So with the prospect of being able to head out
earlier because I wouldn't have to take everything to the car, I set
up a second night.
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