Back to the big road 1-70 again, headed to St. Louis. Since we started so late, we decided that we wouldn’t try to make Chicago that day. Plans called for a stop in St. Louis for a little touristy stuff, another grocery excursion, maybe some dinner, and then we’d drive for a while and stop in either Springfield or Bloomington, depending on time and tiredness.
But first, lunchtime rolled around, and hubster asked if I’d me interested in anything from McDonalds. I opted for a vanilla shake to go with my leftover ribs, and this time I had the presence of mind to take a photo of the smoke ring. But really, what smoke ring? Except for the very thickest parts, these things were smoked pretty much all the way through.
As for the shake, it’s got to be a good half-dozen years since I had a shake from McDonald’s and it was just about as I remembered. Ah, vacation road food.
We continued our trek to St. Louis, making good time and looking at trees and forests and a lot of green. As we got closer to the city, We needed to pick a destination, and I plugged in a a winery as our tourist stop in St. Louis.
So far, so good, but the winery ended up being a wine store. They’re making their own wine, but it won’t be ready until fall…maybe. But they sell wine and have a restaurant.
Hmmm…not exactly what I was looking for. I was hoping for a wine tasting or a short tour so we could stretch our legs before continuing, but that wasn’t going to happen. I gamely asked if they sold any local wines. Nope, not a one. Ah well, I can buy wine anywhere, so we left.
My next quest was another grocery store. This time I was looking for St. Louis style barbecue sauce. I don’t know why I was stuck on barbecue sauce as my goal, but it’s a worthy goal. I’ve tried many of the national brands of sauces, I’ve tried some local ones, but none of them hit that perfect balance that I’m looking for.
I’ve also tried making my own sauce (no surprise there, hmmm?) but there’s always something missing. I figure that if I find a perfect bottled sauce, I can either buy cases of it and have to shipped to me, or I can use that as my example as I’m working towards that perfect blend.
St. Louis wasn’t cooperating.
We were in a downtown area that looked like it was in a transition period between industrial/commercial and urban renewal. Streets were blocked for construction, and buildings were either in shambles, or shiny-yuppy-new. We ended up going in a circle and back onto the highway were traffic was building. I didn’t hold much hope in finding the sort of store that I wanted in the area, so we headed towards the arch…then past the arch…and we crossed into Illinois.
A few exits into Illinois, and I asked the GPS to find me a grocery store. Shop n Save was less than five minutes away, so we hopped of the highway and I picked up a couple bottles of St. Louis barbecue sauce.
And we found another one of those helicopters. They must be popular. Since this one was mounted lower, we stopped again and I took more photos.
Good enough for me. Onward to Springfield…and beyond.
Trees along the highway gave way to farms again. And trees. And farms. With trees in the distance, at the horizon. And more trees and some wildflowers. I wonder what I’ll think of the changing scenery as I head back the other way and things get browner and starker and drier. But then again, it’s kind of neat to see the Rocky Mountains rise up in the distance, even if the side views are a little drab.
Altitude, according to the GPS, is about 670 feet, so we’re close enough to bottom lands. At this point, I feel like I’m breathing normally again. At first, I felt like I couldn’t inhale all the way, I’d breathe in, but it was like my lungs said, “enough oxygen” before I was finished inhaling.
We decided to bypass historical Springfield and head to Bloomington-Normal for the night. Neither of us was particularly hungry as we approached Springfield, and the extra hour on the road would mean one less hour on the day of arrival. Besides, we’ve both been to Springfield at one time or another, but neither of us has ever had a reason to stop in Bloomington.
When given a choice, might as well go with the unknown.