Well, I didn't think it was possible to top yesterday's riding, but Missouri did!This morning was absolutely perfect: there wasn't a straight stretch of road all morning, the temperature was just perfect, a clear blue sky, no traffic, and some of the best roads through the best scenery we have ever seen. J
We spent the whole morning commenting to each other over the radios about just how perfect it was.Three biker blokes in biker heaven. JProbably the best town we went through this morning was Cuba J
As it was Sunday today there was quite a bit more traffic on the roads.There was one particular type of traffic we didn't expect to encounter though…a line of tractors!There were about a hundred of them, also cruising Route 66 from one town to the next, but thankfully going in the opposite direction to us so we just stopped and watched them chug on by.Very 'country'.J
We have been travelling through the 'bible belt' for the last couple of days, passing hundreds of churches, mostly Baptist churches.They are all huge.Testimony to the zealousness of the followers is the fact that in run down towns, the church will be the biggest, shiniest, most modern building in town.The rest of the town could be crumbling, but the church gets the money.
Sunday meant that all the church car parks were full, that many people were out for their Sunday drive, and this afternoon many commuters heading back home after a weekend away: we saw it all.
We also called through St Loius to see the Gateway Arch and cross the mighty Mississippi (complete with Paddle Steamer) into Illinois.
Sunday also meant many closed streets for us today.We wanted to drive down by the riverfront in St Louis to see the Arch, but the streets were closed, so we had to park in an undercover carpark and walk to the Arch.
The carpark was an eye-opener.They were charging $10 per car for a whole day's parking, but we were only staying 20 minutes, so I asked the attendant if she might be kind and do us a deal.A flat NO came back.So I tried again with the Aussies travelling across the US story.NO.By this stage we were pretty hot and bothered so I said we would park and come back.We parked in a space that could not be parked in by a car.We did the right thing and came back (we could've just walked out onto the street and left), and by this time the car park boss was there.Thinking that I might have a better chance with the person who made the rules I approached the guy and opened with the Aussies riding across the US, only staying 15 minutes story."NO, its ten bucks per bike"…Hmmm…So would he consider doing us a deal just to be nice?NO.Did he value taking money off people more than being nice?YES. I gave him a second chance to be nice.NO. I told him I wondered how he could sleep straight in bed at night and that he was not a very kind person.So we paid the ten bucks, per bike, did the right thing, and I am still fuming about it.Why do people like money more than people?I hope he ends up poor and has to ask someone to be nice to him.
Then came the biggest eye-opener of the day!The road along the river near the Arch, and a bunch of other roads were closed because there was a big political rally for the Tea Party.It was mind blowing to be in the crowd as an onlooker.It was bordering on intimidating as the NRA was involved.A few thousand brainwashed, cheering, super-patriotic Americans, waving their flags, wearing their NRA (National Rifles Association) badges, carrying their anti-Obama placards, cheering on the Christian rock band and the responding every time "God Bless America" was uttered by the speaker.It was a mass hypnotism.
What none of us could understand though was what they were getting worked up to do.There was a lot of nationalistic imagery used (our boys who serve, we are all brothers and sisters, war came to my living room, I'm a mother, etc etc etc) to galvanise the crowd behind a voice of discontent (our contry is broken, we know something is wrong etc etc)…but there was no solution offered.Everyone was up in arms, but no one had any idea what they or the Tea Party was going to do to fix it.It was basically heaping s*** on all the other parties, but without making any clear statement about what they would do to do better.That's why I think it was a brainwashing; they had no idea what they were supporting, but they were cheering anyway.
We just stood amongst the crowds and quietly marvelled at the sight…and took photos and video JIt was wild.J
The video is up on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWdE09kC17M
By this time it was baking hot and we couldn't wait to get out of the city and moving to get the air flowing.But of course the closed-street issue saw us crawl from traffic light to traffic light for 30 minutes in the full heat of the day, clad in full safety gear, so that by the time we did get on the freeway we were all completely drenched.We couldn't get out of there fast enough.
Once we cleared St Louis we needed lunch, and the first place we could find was actually an American Drive-In 'restaurant'.So we drove in!On our bikes.And our food came out to us!It was awesome! JA Burger and a choccy milkshake later and we were on our way!J
From St Louis we did quite a few miles of the old cement Rt66, which is, as Briany would say, "rough as guts" (video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fMYBsKGOPo ).So after about half an hour of teeth chattering cement, we elected to just get on the freeway and go to Springfield.
And that's where we are tonight, the capital of Illinois, and the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln!
It could also be the place where the Simpsons are set (but almost every state has a Springfield).Ted thought it was very Simpson-esque that we are staying in Springfield alongside something that looks like a power station J
We've just finished our 2 complimentary drinks and some free food, and are just about to shower and ride into the Downtown area of town to have a look around.
Tomorrow is the last day of Route 66!We can't quite believe its here so soon!But we are all looking forward to a day off so much.We've been on the bikes for 8+ hours a day, every day for 12 days.It will be nice to have a day off.J
But it will also be the end of something I for one have thought about for so many years, which is a bit weird.Yes, I will have all the photos and memories and stories and great times with friends (and a sore ass), but I will probably not ride the Route again, and most certainly not ride it for the first time again, so it seems funny for it to be 'over'.I think I need the next challenge.J
Bring on Chicago!J
PS. We've just been nightseeing!It was awesome fun…no people, great new colours in the photos, not too hot, no traffic, park anywhere…it was gold!Have a look at the photos and the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE6Invmak1U !JWe saw the Lincolm House, the Illinois state capitol building, the Lincoln Library, and the Lincoln smoke shop and Lincoln nail parlour. J