Days 4 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be!
Leaving La Grange and Elkhart, Indiana, we struck out on our original mission—make time to Bryce Canyon, Utah. Originally, if we had left directly from Tennessee, we would have followed Interstate 70 across the Midwest to Denver, Colorado. We had planned on several “curbing” overnights at the homes of SOTF members (see Day 1 of this series). Because our schedule and routing had changed somewhat because of events in Indiana, our curbing plans had also been disrupted.
We were beginning our trip well north of Interstate 70. We headed south out of Joliet IL, on I-55, to I-72 in Springfield, IL towards Hannibal, MO, where we had the option to go south to I-70, or take US Rt 36 (RT 36) across northern of Missouri. We elected strike out on the westerly leg across Missouri along Rt 36. According to our maps, this looked like a long, straight route to Colorado, with options to drop south to I-70, if necessary. Our GPS navigator was insistent that we take every road that would go to I-70. The mute button solved that!
As soon as we crossed the Mississippi into Missouri, the frenetic pace of traffic quickly subsided, and we were soon cruising along the “open road.” I recalled the Chevrolet commercials of the late 1950s, early 1960s: “See the USA in your….” It was beginning to feel just like that.
Rt 36 in Missouri is a four-lane, mostly divided highway. While speed limits are not as high as on the Interstate, they were more in line with speeds that were comfortable pulling the trailer. Also, we realized that there was very little traffic along this route, compared to what we had experienced on all Interstates. Consequently, we continued along Rt 36, anticipating that we might go to I-70 as we entered Kansas.
Rt 36 roughly follows the route of the Pony Express, and there were markers and silhouettes of riders along the route. The Pony Express started in St Joseph, MO and extended 1840 miles to Sacramento, CA. There is a museum and barn dedicated to the Pony Express in Marysville, KS—but we did not stop!
Rt 36 is the main street through most of the towns along this route, occasionally with a stop light, but usually just a brief speed limit reduction. As we crossed the open spaces of Missouri, we saw several windmill farms generating electricity, grain elevators were the most common structures on the horizon.
We had not made any overnight plans for this route, expecting (hoping) that we would find a campground or a place to boondock somewhere convenient near the end of the day. As it was, at the end of Day 4, we saw a sign to Wallace State Park that indicated camping. We stopped for local directions to the campground, and were assured they should have plenty of sites available.
In fact, we got the last available spot—it was a dry camping spot (no electricity or water), and it was on a challenging site for parking a camper. We managed to get it in the site and more-or-less level. After a day of driving, sleep came easily.
Copyright 2017 – Jeff Richmond