Sunday, July 11, 2010

St. Louis Fly-by

We are at the Elks lodge in Festus, Missouri (map). The lodge here is a veritable hotbed of activity; when we arrived yesterday afternoon, the pool was in full swing, with perhaps three dozen folks swimming or lounging around. The two 30-amp power outlets happen to be immediately adjacent to the pool, and a couple of folks graciously moved their vehicles so we could back in The pool deck is right out our window.

In addition to all the daytime activity at the pool, there were also perhaps a half dozen families either enjoying picnics at the various picnic areas around the enormous property, or fishing down at the private lake. This latter item is ultimately connected to the river and is consequently ten feet or so over its normal high water mark at the moment, with picnic ramadas sticking out of the water.

In the evening the lodge had a pork steak dinner, with all the fixin's for $6, which we enjoyed. As if the daytime busyness was not enough, the pool had some kind of private birthday party well into the evening (normal pool hours ended at 7pm), and the giant pavilion across from our front window hosted a wedding reception, whose fairly loud music ran well past midnight.

None of this really bothered us, not even the music, which merely prompted us to sleep with the windows closed and the air conditioner running. And it's hard to complain about the free power outlet or the $6 dinner. It was hot enough when we arrived that we were tempted to spend some time in the pool, where a day pass is $3, but it was actually a bit crowded for our tastes. It's really good, though, to see a lodge that has found a way to attract some younger folks and keep them interested, and the lodge is clearly a vibrant, going concern. Unfortunately the main lodge building suffered some kind of fire in January and most of it is closed; lodge operations are being conducted in a basement meeting room. They have plans to rebuild.

Yesterday's drive was a bit mundane. We enjoyed state route 79 along the river and into Clarksville, but south of there it moves inland. The road is in bad shape, and signs commanded us to slow to 15mph at various bridges due to our weight and the bridges' deteriorating conditions. When 79 intersected I-70, we hopped on and bypassed St. Louis altogether on I-270. We did bail off briefly when we spotted $2.67 diesel, about the best we've seen in a long time, and likely the best we will see for a long time still. I filled the tank.

While St. Louis is an interesting city, parking options with power for the air conditioners are few, and we did spend a week there just a few years ago. So on this pass we opted to just go around and land someplace downriver. This afternoon we will resume our journey on the Great River Road. The hurricane map is again blank, and unless we get called for flooding here in the midwest, we have no particular schedule.

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