Day 4-6: Missouri, Route 66

Exploring the Mother Road through the rolling hills of Missouri…

DAY 4 PLAN:
DEPART: Chicago **START ROUTE 66 HERE**
DRIVE: Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MO to Meramec State Park, MO (estimated 500 miles / 9 hours straight driving) — stop to resupply en route
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: Hike of Memory Lane, Lexington IL | Visit Shea’s gas station museum, Springfield | Visit Henry’s Ra66it Ranch, Staunton | Visit Times Beach Route 66 Park
ARRIVE: Meramec State Park, MO and set up camp

DAY 5 PLAN:
ACTIVITY: Rafting on Meramec river
DRIVE: Meramec State Park, MO to Rolla, MO to Bennett Springs State Park, MO (estimated 150 miles / 2.5 hours straight driving) — stop to resupply en route
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: Hike Meramec Caverns | Visit Trail of Tears memorial garden
ARRIVE: Bennett Springs State Park, MO and set up camp

DAY 6 PLAN:
DRIVE: Bennett Springs State Park, MO to Galena, KS to Tulsa, OK (estimated 350 miles / 6 hours straight driving) — stop to resupply en route
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: Visit Gay Parita Sinclair, Paris Springs | Drive Ribbon Road Sidewalk Highway, Miami | Visit Totem Pole Park, Foyil
ARRIVE: Tulsa

RESOURCES: DAY 4 PLANNING PAGE | DAY 5 PLANNING PAGE | DAY 6 PLANNING PAGE | MERAMEC WEATHER | ROLLA WEATHER | BENNETT SPRINGS WEATHER | TWIN BRIDGES WEATHER | TULSA WEATHER | KEYSTONE PARK WEATHER

NOTES FROM THE ROAD: MERAMEC RIVER ADVENTURE (rafting on the meramec)

Last night, just as we were starting to make our fire, we heard thunder and saw flashes of lightening in the distance. Our peaceful refuge among the deer risked becoming something of a swamp if it came down heavy! It was a race against time to get the hot dogs cooked (and eaten) before the skies opened up. “Cactus Killer” and I assembled the tent in less than ten minutes, while “Silly Squirrel” got the fire going … [ read more ]

NOTES FROM THE ROAD: LOST AND FOUND ON ROUTE 66 (driving Route 66, Missouri)

We left Meramac after the river float and had to skip a visit to the famed caverns because we were “behind schedule.” We decided to try to make some progress towards Oklahoma, today, so we wouldn’t have to drive the whole segment tomorrow. But the day was getting away from us, it was already afternoon, and we would have to get moving if we hoped to really drive Route 66 instead of the Interstate. … [ read more ]

NOTES FROM THE ROAD: NOSTALGIA MEETS COMMUNITY ON ROUTE 66 (Route 66, Missouri)

We awoke drenched in sweat, despite having opened all the air vents on the tent before going to bed. Everything was damp–even the maps! It was that hot and humid, and the day was just beginning. Such opressive humidity made it hard to do anything rapidly, but we got the Jeep loaded, and hit the road as quickly as we could. We drove along with the windows down while we still could. The smell of the woods and the hot damp air brought back memories of summers past … [ read more ]

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: PORTFOLIO: MISSOURI ROUTE 66 (images of Missouri 66 highlights)

On Missouri Route 66 we stop for a bit of rafting on the Meramec River, before getting back on the road. We follow the old road as much as possible, and make a few interesting stops along the way. The “Tribute to the Trail of Tears” in Jerome, is hauntingly beautiful even though it is overgrown and abandoned. Our favorite stop was the Gay Parita Sinclair station where we were warmly welcomed by Gary Turner. This portfolio contains a selection of imagery from Missouri Route 66 including the Meramec River, Tribute to the Trail of Tears and Gary Turner’s “Gay Parita Sinclair” station… [ read more ]

REFLECTIONS & OTHER THINGS: FREEDOM’S ROAD (the spirit of Route 66)

Route 66 is freedom’s road. And we are truly free out here, cruising down America’s highway through a country as vast as infinity. We are unplugged and untracked and unlocated. No one can “follow us” as we stopped “updating” when we left Chicago. The only tweets now are coming from the song-birds. For six weeks we are really “off-grid” and it feels liberating…. [ read more ]

REFLECTIONS & OTHER THINGS: A “GRAPES OF WRATH” MOMENT (a crowded campground)

For some bizarre reason, camping at Bennett Spring State Park in Missouri reminded me of something from “Grapes of Wrath.” There isn’t really any logical connection. Bennett Spring is a nice modern comfortable state park, with camping, fishing, and lots of conveniences, certainly nothing like what dustbowl migrants experienced, even with the greatest stretch of the imagination. Still, when I went to the booth to ask for a campsite, I couldn’t help but think of a scene from the book … [ read more ]

THE GREAT OUTDOORS: EXPLORING MISSOURI CAVES (caves around Route 66)

With more than 6,000 surveyed caves, Missouri is known as the “cave state,” (only the state of Tennessee has more), and not far from Route 66 there are some interesting options if underground exploration is your thing. Over the years, these hidden chambers have been used for shelter, entertainment and even as storage for the beverage industry. Today they remain one of the last frontiers of exploration for adventure seekers … [ read more ]

THE GREAT OUTDOORS: MERAMEC STATE PARK (destination information)

In summer outdoor enthusiasts flock to Meramec State Park, approximately 60 miles southwest of St. Louis near Interstate 44, to enjoy the Meramec River as it flows through the Ozarks. With 6,896-acres the park offers something for everyone: from rafting to rock climbing and hiking, nature lovers have plenty to do here. Hidden within the expansive forest are several springs and more than 40 caves … [ read more ]

PRACTICAL MATTERS: RESERVATIONS OR NOT? (camping options en route)

To make or not to make reservations… that is the question. But seriously, planning a trip of this length, we really DID have to make some decisions about advance reservations versus the spontanaeity of the road. Like most travellers who chose to take Route 66, we wanted room for spontaneity and time to discover things as we go. We also wanted the flexibility to make changes to our itinerary en route. And we didn’t want to get tied into chasing a schedule … [ read more ]

MISSOURI ROUTE 66 THINGS WE LIKE:
Meramec State Park, for a great campsite, caves and rafting…
Meramec Caverns, because Jesse James really DID hide out there…
Larry Baggett’s “Trail of Tears” memorial garden, because it is hauntingly beautiful, even now… (hope it does not get torn down!)
The Gay Parita Sinclair station, for the wonderful vintage ambiance and the amazing hospitality of Gary Turner…