Rainy Day Blues
CHASING THE BLUES, CHAPTER 15: Sikeston, MO, to St. Louis, MO
Just before 9:00, we pulled out of Sikeston, MO, under heavy gray clouds, a grim reminder of the strong storms forecast for this area over the next couple of days. As we drove north, patches of blue sky became visible. We are finding life off the freeways a pleasant change—less traffic, slower pace, and rumble strips announce when an occasional driver is about to pass.
After a correction when the GPS got carried away with our “avoid freeways” directive and took us far west off the path to St. Louis, we returned east on MO-74 into Cape Girardeau, a charming river town we had visited in 2011. There we found a couple of letterboxes before meandering out of town on Highway W, which led us back to US-61.
|Farm near Jackson, MO|
|Log Cabin College in Altenburg|
Near 2:30, we entered St. Mary, MO, where we crossed over a stream into an exclave of Illinois—Kaskaskia (pop. 14), the second smallest incorporated community in the state. First settled in 1703 on the site of an old Native American village, Kaskaskia became a major French colonial center, reaching its peak population of 7,000 by the mid-18th century.
Upon its capture, Kaskaskia was named the seat of Virginia’s Illinois County, and in 1787 became part of the Northwest Territory. When Illinois was designated a separate territory in 1809, Kaskaskia was named its capital, a status it retained into the first year of Illinois statehood, replaced in 1819 by the centrally located Vandalia. A worse fate was yet to come.
In April, 1881, spring flooding of the Mississippi River wiped out most of Kaskaskia. At the same time, the Mississippi shifted eastward, moving into the channel of the Kaskaskia River and leaving the remains of the town on the Missouri side of the mighty river—an exclave of Illinois. Today a handful of buildings and a few residents are the only reminders of this once thriving town.
|Kaskaskia Bell Memorial|
We hadn’t been on I-55 five miles before rain descended in swollen drops—so large they made plopping noises as they hit the car. Weather radar offered no reassurance. Our path was about to intersect with a powerful storm cell. In confirmation, the sky darkened and lightning began to flash wildly.
Pushing on northward, we were able to slip between that cluster of intense precipitation and another ahead which was still a bit west of our route. By the time we entered St. Louis proper, the rain had slid away southeast.
Arriving just after 4:30, we checked into the Hampton Inn near the famed Gateway Arch and unpacked the car. Unable to resist the convenience after our stressful drive, we ate dinner in the Tigin Irish Pub at the hotel. It turned out to be quite good.
As another storm system swept through the city later that evening, we watched the lightning display from our ninth floor windows, glad to be still and dry.
- Miles driven: 208
- Weather: 'nuff said
- Silos: 451
- Barns: 239
- Lumber stacks in Altenburg: 41,893
- Wildflowers: 459,760
More Photos from Today
|Confederate Violet, Henbit, Spring Beauty—some of the many wildflowers we saw today|
|Grand Tower Pipeline Bridge|
|Cloche Français, Kaskaskia|
|Here comes the rain|
|Entering St. Louis between storms|
|Sun-dried tomato hummus with boxty wedges at Tigin Irish Pub|
|Glad to be tucked in for the night|