Saturday, June 6, 2015

Chapter 6 - St Louis to Kansas City

St Louis to Kansas City:
We always make a point of filling our car with gas the night before we depart and since we did not know the location of the nearest gas station here in East St Louis we went on line to an App called TripTik by Triple A which provides the location of all of the closest stations and their current gas prices. We quickly learned that on the east side of the Mississippi River in the state of Illinois the price of gas was around $3.00 per gallon whereas the price on the west side of the Mississippi in Missouri was 20 to 25 cents per gallon less expensive.  This seemed totally out of line until we remembered that the state government in Illinois is controlled by Democrats whereas the state government in Missouri is controlled by Republicans.  I have always been totally bewildered why the Democratic party who claim to be looking out for the interests of the lower and middle income wage earner would think that it is perfectly OK to raise taxes on gasoline which obviously disproportionately effects the lower income wage earner. That not withstanding we paid the higher price and purchased the gas in Illinois. We just wanted to help out the struggling Democratic Party in Illinois and perhaps our donation of the extra 25 cents will be tax deductible.

When we awoke Friday morning July 5th, it was pouring rain but determined as we were to get an early start on the road to Kansas City, I proceeded in the rain to disconnect the services from our trailer and hitch the trailer up to the car. After the half hour effort was completed I was totally soaked but by 7:30 am Kathy and I were finished and we jumped in the car to begin our estimated five hour drive across Missouri to Kansas City.  As it would happen, by 7:31 am the rain had totally stopped and by 9:00 am the sun was peaking around the clouds and any more thoughts of rain had vanished.  As some of you have predicted, other than the congestion around St Louis, the traffic on the interstate has diminished as we headed west and with the good fortune of encountering no accidents or major construction delays our 5-1/2 hour drive was relatively stress free.  It was also a bit boring as it seems the interstate running across Missouri must have followed an old highway system so that rather than driving through miles of beautiful and unspoiled farmlands, we passed miles of ugly billboards and old rundown commercial buildings.  Furthermore, what farmlands we did pass, the plantings were still in their early growth stage or they had yet to be planted.  I feel certain that the early settlers in this otherwise beautiful state would have been appalled had they been able to see the future commercialization along the side of their trails. One very pleasant part of this days trip however, was that we did cross the Missouri River three times which reminded us again that we were still on the path of our Oregon Trail.  

Our destination today was the Worlds of Fun Village RV park in northeast Kansas City.  Our new home was located next door to the Oceans of Fun amusement park which looked on paper at least to be a miniature Disneyworld.  As we approached our final exit off the interstate we could see in the distance the top of the huge roller coaster ride at this park that we learned later was called the "Mamba." We knew immediately that our new home was nearby. As you can see in the above photograph, the "Mamba" was in full view from our RV site and we could not help but sit by our trailer and watch into the evening the riders enjoying themselves as the cars dropped down the rails. The ride was opened until 10 o'clock at night and we continued to hear the screams as we drifted off to sleep. Fortunately not even the distant noise could keep us awake.  

The Worlds of Fun Village RV Park is probably as far away as one could get from meeting the traditional definition of a "Campground."  This place has all concrete pads for parking the trailers and motorhomes, beautifully maintained lawns and landscaping, a swimming pool and rest rooms as nice as one would find in any resort, all paved roads, and a small store.  It was nothing like what we had enjoyed at Skidaway Island and Stone Mountain, and Kathy just loved the contrast. Furthermore, the park was around 95% full not only because of the amusement park next door but also because it was just so clean and welcoming. Hopefully this quality RV park has not spoiled us for the campgrounds we will soon visit on the Oregon Trail ahead.

There was not a cloud in the sky when we went to bed on Friday night, however when we awoke Saturday morning we were greeted with a heavy downpour of rain that fortunately only latest until around 10 o'clock. This gave us lots of time to have a slow breakfast and then clean ourselves and our traveling home in preparation for another relaxing day. Incidentally "relaxing" is very important to folks of our age especially while traveling. Anyway, our plan today was to briefly visit downtown Kansas City beginning first with a visit to their popular City Market.  This market was even more popular than we had first thought since it took us forever just to find a parking space. We finally arrived at the City Market after a short walk from our car only to be greeted with a sign telling us that no dogs were allowed.  Cabo and his mother were deeply disappointed but we shrugged it off and decided to continue with our drive into the city.

A Saturday drive through any big city is the way to go since we encountered very little traffic.  Unfortunately the Kansas City downtown is as ugly as most large cities and were it not for our arrival at a large downtown park/mall dedicated to the World War I veterans, we would have quickly departed the area. Within the park was a statue dedicated to the 19th century Oregon Trail travelers that we could just not pass up.  This very well known and popular monument was badly in need of an additional traveler to help guide the horses through the western frontier. That being the case yours truly volunteered his efforts to help the weary travelers and Kathy promptly recorded on film this moment in history.

Our final and most rewarding visit for the day and our most time consuming for that matter, was a visit to the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri. This museum is dedicated to the memory of the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails both of which originated in Independence.  We spent almost 1-1/2 hours in the museum (and gift shop) including the time spent to watch an excellent movie on the history of our county's westward movement. The museum was not well attended so we had the place almost to ourselves. Its poor attendance is not only a reflection of the lack of interest in the Oregon Trail but also a consequence of the intense competition by so many other tourist attractions here within the cities of Kansas City and Independence. The photo of Kathy, Cabo, and the pioneer wagon was taken just outside of the museum.

We returned back to our RV park around 2 o'clock and spent the rest of the afternoon reading literature about the Oregon Trail that we obtained at the museum, and for a few glorious moments all three of us took a brief nap. Our evening was spent quietly enjoying a good meal, an hour or so of television, and finally to bed early knowing that we will be "on the road again" tomorrow.

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