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Route 66 - Missouri

Meramac CavernsThe Third Day

I got a fairly early start again. I left St. Louis, with a belly-full of Egg McMuffin, via the Interstate after not being able to find and/or follow Route 66. One problem with the official Route 66 road signs is that they don't say whether they are leading you east or west—so if you get lost it takes a couple of towns before you realize you are going the wrong way.

My first stop off the Interstate was the Route 66 Missouri State Park. Only thing was the interpretation centre was closed for renovations (nice timing, tourist season) and the rest of the 409 acre park seemed deserted. After leaving the park I made good time—only problem was that it was in the wrong direction! I think I lost about an hour but the road I was on was made for the MINI with rolling hills, curvy roads and a speed limit of 55 mph!

Meramac CavernsMy second stop was to visit the Black Madonna Shrine in Eureka. According to my Traveling Route 66 book it was created by a Polish monk and consists of seven grottos and is decorated with shells, jewelry, cake molds and old jars. Truly bizarre and a must see. Only trouble was, after finally finding the unmarked road to the shrine I followed it for about eight miles only to be confronted with another bridge closure that prevented entry. Truly a bummer!

Third time lucky! The next item on my list was the Meramac Caverns near Stanton, MO. The caverns at one time provided a hiding place for Jesse James and his gang. The self proclaimed "Greatest Show Under the Earth" is kind of hokey with Kate Smith singing God Bless America accompanied by the sound of the tour guide loudly clicking switches for the accompanying light show—no computerization here! The $14, 80-minute tour is worth it just to see the featured 70' x 60' (21m x 18m) rock formation—the largest in the world.

Rolla, Missouri

The next cool thing I saw was the stubby Stonehenge on the Rolla campus of the University of Missouri. It was constructed by students to showcase the precision of their 15,000 psi water jet. As a solar clock it is supposedly accurate to within 15 seconds (within 15 seconds of what, I'm not sure).

Stonehenge in RollaThe MINI

The car is running perfectly. It's not been hot enough for the air conditioner—so it's windows and sunroof open and the music blaring. The best tankful of gas I have got so far is 35.3 mpg (29.4 US mpg or 8.01 litres/100km). Of course taking secondary roads at 85 kph in 5th gear helps.

Rest In Peace

Tonight I'm staying in another small motel. This one is nicer that the one I had last night and even has a pool. I only did 300 km (186 miles) today—and a lot of that was the wrong way—so I'll try to do better tomorrow.

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