As we entered Missouri we alternated driving along Old Route 66 and Interstate 44 as they run in parallel. This section of the road has tons of Billboards advertising what to see at upcoming exits. We drove by the Candy Shop but stopped at a Henckell Knife factory outlet but the prices were worse than in Canada when you factored in the exchange rate. For Easter weekend we spent a couple of days at Meramec SP (not the caverns but the state park) and did an amazing wilderness hike. We started the hike from the campground and followed the River Trail to the Bluff View Trail and then did the full Wilderness trail loop and returned back to the campground (total 21 KMS). We were surprised there were so few people on the trails since the campground was quite full. The Wilderness Trail was very interesting as it went through several different forest habitats and the views of the Meramec River from the bluffs were very good. The Wilderness Trail also had backpack camping sites and we saw one couple going in to camp. The spring flowers were starting to bloom on the forest floor and in the trees (White Dogwoods and Eastern Red Bud). In the Copper Hollow Spring area we saw a large cave opening but they had a sign posted to stay out as they are concerned for the bats and don’t want them to get the White Nose syndrome.
The next day on the way out of the park we stopped at the Visitors Centre to see their displays. We had worried about ticks on the hike but in fact we got none on the actually hike and instead killed one on the door of the RV. In the centre they had a very interesting display on all the types of Mussels that live in the Meramec River and how their cycle of life works. They also had a cool fossil from 500 Million Years ago that was found in the park showing snails and mollusks exactly how they had been perched all those years ago. In the History area they described how the people of St. Louis would come to the area recognizing its beauty and thus creating the SP in 1926. They also used Johnboats to travel on the river.
We continued our drive along Missouri’s section of Route 66 and stopped at the Route 66 SP (in Eureka) which is in the old Bridgehead Inn which was a roadhouse in 1935. The Inn was called Bridgehead as it was located at one end of the 1008’ Warren Truss design bridge (equilateral triangles used to spread the load) across the Meramec River. The Bridge was closed for safety concerns but they are trying to raise money to have it restored. The Visitor Centre contains Route 66 memorabilia and the history regarding the community of Times Beach which had to be closed in the 80’s due to dioxin contamination. It was also interesting reading about the history of Phillips 66 and trucking company Campbell’s 66 Express. Our original plan had been to stop and go up in the St. Louis Gateway Arch but we found out online that it was closed to fix the tram that takes you to the top so we decided to do a drive by and save it for another trip. This concluded our Missouri section of Route 66 and then on to Indiana.