November 10th, 2021

…and the angels sang as the clouds parted…

Yep, what took Harold and Kumar an hour and twenty-eight minutes took me four hours to get to. Actually, considering it has been a few decades since I’ve been in one, I guess it’s taken even longer.

Let me explain.

I had the need to drive somewhere so I thought “I’m gonna see where I end up.”. I grabbed my dog and we got in the truck. Off we went to find something somewhere.

Hogging the armrest but enjoying the drive!

I got to I-44 and decided to head east, maybe see some more sights along Route 66 that I had not seen yet.

I think this is the first section of divided highway I have seen on Route 66 outside of a city

One was Devil’s Elbow Bridge, along Route 66, crossing Big Piney River just east of Uranus (!).

Bet you’ll never guess where this picture was taken.

The bridge itself was pretty much your standard generic old bridge and not worth the trip if your expectations are of the Golden Gate Bridge, but the drive has some things to see so all was not lost.

I got back on the Interstate and continued east. I finally figured “Oh, what the heck, let’s go on to St. Louis.. And, there are White Castles there.”.

Along the way I saw this billboard:

A sign for Stuckey’s meant you could stock up on cans of boiled peanuts , divinity, and pecan log rolls

Stuckey’s used to be a stop on the interstate for weary travelers before convenience stores became so common after 7-11 started the trend (only open 7-11, hence the name). I-70 across Kansas is littered with the carcasses of old Stuckey’s stores. There was another chain called Nickerson Farms that started showing up but then there was a gas shortage in the 70s and it hit travelers pretty hard, keeping people closer to home – if they even left at all. In turn, many of these stores shut down. Of course I stopped on the way back and this one is nothing like the original.

They never really came back with the vacationers and that may have been due to more places opening up, some even 24 hours a day. Plus the proliferation of fast food joints probably had some effects on that as well. I have noticed that many highway rest areas are being closed down with the advent of 24/7 life and the homeless/grub problems.

Looking at it from this side, is it The Gateway to the East?

I just kept driving and ended up in downtown St. Louis. I haven’t been to St. Louis in many years. Just like last time, there was a lot of construction. Since I have the dog I am only driving through and heading back. I have been in the arch before so I don’t need to do it again, plus with the ‘rona that’s not even an option for me to get in that tiny elevator with other people and hang out with them at the top. Maybe some other time I will come back to hang out.

That’s when it happened. The exit sign for White Castle appeared so I knew where I was headed. I pretty much blew my day’s food budget at lunch but it was so good in an evil way. Chicken ring slider, fish slider, original with cheese, and small fry. It was delicious but it won’t happen like that again for a long time.

After finishing that last tasty burger I figured I would catch part of Route 66 on the way back. Unfortunately most of this section is basically a frontage road for I-44, but there were some parts that got away from the highway. One stop ended up being even more interesting than I had anticipated.

I stopped at the Route 66 State Park Visitor Center, which is housed in the old 1935 roadhouse called The Bridgehead Inn.

Route 66 State Park Visitor Center – Eureka, MO

The visitor center was closed but they had a couple of exhibits outside:

If you read the first sign you will see a story about Times Beach. Times Beach was one of the early modern-day environmental disasters, along with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I remember it being all over the news at the time…and it was close by.

Just HOW close by I had no idea. I went to the actual Route 66 State Park and discovered it was close to Times Beach. Very close. In fact it WAS Times Beach. The other end of the Route 66 bridge above went into the town before the town was abandoned. Of course I drove thorough it, but the A/C was off, the windows were up and I did not stop and get out.

Route 66 State Park/Times Beach – Eureka, MO

It had an eeriness to it and I really don’t know why they would turn this place into a public place given the fact it was shut down due to a carcinogen being sprayed everywhere. People were hiking, riding bikes, and jogging. It was a nice park but nowhere I want to spend much time walking. Then again, I would like to visit Chernobyl.

I got back on I-44 and in a few miles I returned to Route 66 for a while. It is a slow drive so I did not stay on it more than a few hours. I drove through Cuba, MO and there are a lot of murals everywhere. I saw a few other things of interest along the drive but mostly old buildings:

That’s it for this adventure!

Route 66 – Cuba, MO

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