2015 USA Road Trip Day 4: Richmond IN to St Louis MO
Just checked the map and there seems to be nothing much going on along the 300 miles before I hit Route 66 in the early afternoon.
I had an entertaining day all the same. I love bookshops in the USA - I remember from my previous visits that they just seem to be interesting because they look the same as the UK ones, but they're different. And bigger. So I found one very close to my route, one called Books A Million in Terre Haute, Indiana. And there must have been at least a million books in it - it was enormous.
Had a cup of tea in the obligatory bookshop coffeshop too, Joe Muggs. One thing about the states is that tea in these places is not a ripoff - I paid less than £1 for my tea and it was similar in Starbucks in the times I've visited there this week.
My next stop was definitely unexpected. I was driving down the interstate when I saw a sign reading "Attractions - world's largest wind chime, world's largest golf tee - next exit". This is exactly the kind of thing I expect to see in the USA. I turned off and ended up in the town of Casey, Illinois. I drove around a bit and couldn't find it so I stopped at a general store and toyed with the idea of asking where the wind chime was without sounding like an idiot. So I walked in and bought a 99 cent water There was no problem with that though - the woman in the shop was extremely enthusiastic and was clearly very proud of having these things locally! She also reeled off a list of other "world's largest" things that were coming to the town - world's biggest rocking chair, world's biggest fire hydrant, world's biggest basket of something or other, and suggested I came back to see them!
The wind chime was well worth the detour. It was quite big - 55 feet tall - and I managed to knock it together a bit, and it was quite bassy which I suppose you'd expect given the size of the tubes.
It looked nice in the snow too. The weather is getting better now - no snow, warming up (it rose up to 1C today!) and lots of snow on the ground, enough to make things look pretty without the roads being hazardous. I should make the most of it as I'm probably a day or two from not seeing any more snow.
I finally hit Route 66 this afternoon by cutting cross-country through Illinois and into Stuanton. The first place to see on my list was Henry's Ra66it Ranch, which I managed to find - closed. There was a note on the door apologising saying that it would usually be open but the owner had to go to see the doctor (I think that's what it said, it was handwritten). I just quite literally chilled out there, taking a few photos and looking around, not being able to hear another person or car at all for all the time I was there.
I didn't have a lot of luck today. I headed over to the Old Chain Of Rocks Bridge, hoping to walk across it into Missouri and back - but it was locked closed. No signs or explanation or nothing. I suppose being under about a foot of snow had something to do with it.
I ended an eventful day by arriving at St Louis. I purposefully chose a hotel which looked like it was very close to the arch - and it was - but because of various building work going on, I had a 20 minute detour to reach it on foot. I checked in about 3pm which gave me time to walk up to it.
I'm a big fan of Defiance so I was really looking forward to visiting the arch (I appreciate that those words may be unique to the internet). It was a great experience too - you go up in a pod, which is not a good idea if you're claustrophobic. Once you're at the top there isn't much to do except look out of the window and wait for the pods to come back to return you - but just being there in itself and seeing the floor curve underfoot just reminds you what a unique engineering the arch actually is. The stainless steel exterior looks great in any light and it's a lot higher than I thought too - 630 feet, which is higher than the Nat West Tower in London.
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Last updated 20 February 2015 14:06
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.