Southern Illinois & Missouri – 2012 Road Trip – Day 2 – Drive to St Louis

Our morning started out cruising around downtown Indianapolis, and the surrounding neighborhoods. The highlight is Monument Circle, the center of the city

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After a brief tour of downtown Indianapolis Saturday morning we continued west. I had researched enough to find something to do every couple of hours throughout the trip, and our first stop of the day was in Terre Haute, at a ‘midget racing’ museum called World of Wheels. It was however, closed. Good news was the entire place had large windows across the front so we could see all of the cars.

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A short time later we were crossing into Illinois. The best thing I could say about Indiana was I was glad to be past, as they must lead the nation in left lane drivers getting in the way (at least I thought at that point).

Next up – Effingham, Illinois and the MY Garage Museum at the Mid America Motorworks’ facilitiy. The center houses literally thousands of pieces of automotive collectibles and memorabilia.

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The facility also showcases an actual 1910 gas station that was moved and restored on site as well as a brick wall from the Corvette Factory in St Louis. In addition they had a Herbie Beetle and a couple of giant fiberglass cows painted in automotive motif.

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A couple more hours brought us to the St Louis area and the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

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The bridge was used by Route 66 to cross over the Mississippi River. Its most notable feature is a 22-degree bend occurring at the middle of the crossing. Originally a motor route, the bridge now carries walking and biking trails over the river. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

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The bridge’s name comes from a large shoal, or rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks, which made that stretch of the Mississippi extremely dangerous to navigate

The day we were there a motorcycle club was permitted to cross, doing so as we were walking across. I could just imagine old Model A’s on their way to California chugging across.

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From here we headed down the Illinois side of the river to go to St Louis, being careful to avoid East St Louis. Once in town we stopped at our hotel, a Drury in downtown St Louis, to drop off the bags and take a break from the 109-degree heat before heading to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

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Founded in 1859 it is one of the oldest botanical gardens in America, and a center for research and education. The day we were there they were having a Chinese Lantern display, only the lanterns were massive (and beautiful).

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We spent hours in the oppressive heat walking the grounds. It was easily one the best, if not the best botanical gardens we have ever seen.

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Located nearb

Located nearby in the Delmar Loop neighborhood is Blueberry Hill, a landmark St Louis restaurant and music club which Chuck Berry performed every third Wednesday of the month from 1996 until 2014.

Outside the restaurant is the St Louis Walk of Fame. The Walk lines the sidewalks on both sides of Delmar, and is made up of bronze stars and informative biographical plaques honoring individuals from the St. Louis area who have made major national contributions to US cultural heritage.

Across the street is a statue of the man himself, Chuck!

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Nearby in the Central West End neighborhood we found old mansions very near sketchy neighborhoods, but they were in areas surrounded by gates, or large pots blocking the through streets to create a gated neighborhood.

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Forest Park is public park in the western park of St Louis. The park, which opened in 1876, more than a decade after its proposal, has hosted several significant events, including the Louisiana Purchase and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The park is known as the “heart of St. Louis” and features a variety of attractions, including the St Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, and the Missouri History Center.

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While in the park we visited the World’s Fair Pavilion.  Located on Government Hill, the Pavilion opened in 1910 as a gift from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Committee; it helped fulfill their promise to restore the park after the 1904 World’s Fair.

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Taking the Lindell Boulevard back downtown we passed numerous mansions, followed shortly by St Louis University.