01.09.2011 - 01.09.2011 103 °F
How many more hours? That was the battle cry today for both Mia and myself. Amy was a great camper, never complained once! We turned a drive that should take 4 hours into a car day that took 13. Painful, but there were some highlights at the beginning of the day that I will get to in a moment.
We are quite concerned right now as there is a tropical storm in the gulf that will be bearing down on New Orleans this weekend. The meteorologists are saying it is a very slow moving storm that could dump 15-20 inches on New Orleans. Obviously that means lots of flooding. Not sure what to do at this point. Our plan is to stay in Memphis for Thursday and Friday and then Vicksburg, MS on Saturday, Baton Rouge on Sunday and then New Orleans for Monday, Tuesday and fly home Wednesday. We will be keeping our eyes on the forecast as much as possible to see what kind of decision we are going to make.
As far as today's trip, we started out way too late! We didn't leave our hotel until 10am and then decided to go to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis as we had read that the designs on the inside of this Catholic Church were quite stunning! We arrived, only to find that the doors were closed for about 1/2hr because the associated all girls Catholic High School next door was celebrating their 100th year. All the students and their families were in the church. We were able to eventually go in after they all came out around 11am. While waiting we talked to a great history teacher from the school who was outside. Very nice guy and gave us a lot of history of the general area. The inside was quite stunning and we were able to capture some great pictures. Mia also stated she wants to be Catholic now... LOL
We decided to head to the Arch for our next stop. It was now nearing 100 degrees. While walking to the Arch, Mia fell and scraped her knee. It was pretty traumatic for a few moments, but it was just a little scrape. We got her all doctored up once we went into the building below the Arch. We decided to have lunch at Laclede's Landingarea. We went to a Bar and Restaurant called Big Daddy's and had lunch. Our waitress was very friendly and hung out with us throughout our meal. I had a nice summer ale from a local brewer named Schlafly. It was tasty!
We finally got out of St. Louis at around 2pm and headed north because we had to see the world's largest catsup bottle. That was a 40 minute roundtrip to take a picture of a large catsup bottle. Thinking back on that, maybe not the wisest use of time. We picked up the river road from there and drove for a short while until we came to Ste. Genevieve. It has many nice older buildings and they are really trying to cater to tourist. However, we didn't really have much time to check all of that out, because we were here for the car ferry. We wanted to cross the river from MO to IL. The car ferry was pretty cool. Took about 10 minutes to cross the river. It is essentially a large metal car carrier with a small tug boat attached to the right side. The fare was $12 to cross. Mia thought it was very neat.
Once on the other side we headed for Chester, IL. Chester is the home of Popeye and they celebrate him on a regular basis. We were able to get some good snapshots around town of welcome signs and the Popeye statue. We saw a lot of barges and trains carrying coal in this area as well.
We left Chester and knew we were running far behind schedule. It was about 5:30pm. The drive from St. Louis to Memphis is about 268 miles. That's if you take the highway. If you are taking the river road, it's much longer. We were still 3hrs away. We decided to stop for dinner at a BBQ place in Jonesboro IL called Dixie BBQ. This is in southern Illinois and you could really make out the southern culture of the area. The pulled pork sandwiches were perfect. They don't chop or pull the meat, they slice it pretty thin. You get a great smoky flavor. My wife ordered a side of coleslaw as well and was so happy with it. She ate almost all of it before eating the sandwich.
We decided after eating that it was time to abandon the river road and take the fastest route available to Memphis. We finally arrived at 10:45pm. Thank God! At least we are here for two nights. Tomorrow it's off to Graceland, then a two hour tour of the city. Dinner will probably be on Beale Street, but somewhat early as we have Mia.