Friday, May 24, 2019

Hannibal (Day 29)

After St. Louis, we continued north with Des Moines, IA as our destination. It probably seems like an underwhelming destination in the context of all of the cities and national parks, but there was a good reason. Brenda's brother and family lived in Des Moines back then, so we went out of our way to visit. On the route to Des Moines, we passed through American author Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, Hannibal, MO. There were a few tourist plaques there, and it was a good opportunity to get out of the car, stretch the legs and get lunch.

Looks like a postcard for Hannibal, MO.
So, at the end of a day's drive, we arrived at our destination, visited a bit with family, then crashed. The next day was an opportunity to have a nice relaxing day at a lake picnicking and playing in the water.

This might be Des Moines' only tourist attraction, the capitol building.
The itinerary from Des Moines would take us to Denver, CO through Nebraska. We wanted to maximize our time in Denver and Utah, so we decided that the 11-hour drive to Denver would be an overnight. I thought everyone could sleep through it, and wake up ready to explore Denver. I don't think anyone got much sleep that night.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

St. Louis

So, after the Great Smoky Mountains, we headed toward Nashville, TN, and stayed a night there. It was somewhat uneventful, except for a dinner at an interesting restaurant called "Aquarium". Just like any other novelty restaurant, it was more about the novelty of eating in a space surrounded by aquariums than it was for the food.

We stayed in a basic motel, swam in the pool and headed north toward St. Louis the next morning. Believe it or not, there aren't really any campgrounds in St. Louis. There was a campground in East St. Louis, nestled between an industrial area and some railroad tracks. That was not one of our better camping experiences on the road. But, that was not the point of being in St. Louis. What I wanted was for us to experience/see the Arch early in the day. Yep, it's one of America's great monuments.

After seeing the Arch, the museum below it, and going up to the top (it's and interesting elevator ride, and the view is unique, but not the best part of the visit), we went on a 'stern-wheel' riverboat ride on the "Tom Sawyer". It was an different way to see the waterfront.

I do have to show my Pacific Northwest bias once again by noting that the Mississippi river is brown and ugly compared to the Columbia.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Great? Well, Maybe.

So, we were sad to leave the Outer Banks and had so much fun there. Next on our itinerary was to visit Great Smoky Mountains NP. This is it. Surely this would be hard for people in the eastern US to accept, but the Great Smoky Mountains are underwhelming. Yes, there are beautiful scenes like the one above, and we certainly appreciated them, but we are from the west. These are what we call "hills". Honestly, the most memorable thing about our visit was a meal we ate. We were camping the night we spent at the park, and stopped at a small country store to get groceries. For some goofy reason, I thought chili-mac hamburger helper would be a good meal. NOPE! It was terrible, and that is what most of us remember about our visit to Great Smoky Mountains NP.