May 29:  St Louis, MO to Grafton,IL  44 miles

The sun was already beginning to heat up the day as we exited the hotel and crossed over to the Arch Parkway and onto the North Riverfront Bike Trail.  The trail is a paved route running parallel to the river away from the motorized traffic of the morning rush hour.  Nice way to exit a big city!!!  St Louis has put a lot of thought into preserving the land directly adjacent to the river allowing for parkways and parks, trails and pathways; all developed to allow the general public access to the beautiful views.  The river itself is vast and at first glance seems tame  --  quietly flowing south.  At a closer look one sees it isn't as gentle as it appears.  Huge swarms of log debris float rapidly by reminding the observer that storms had recently torn through the Missouri and Mississippi River Valleys flooding areas as the river overflowed its banks.  In the St Louis area the water is within its banks, but the remnants of these storms sails by.

About ten miles outside of the city the route turns east and crosses the Chain of Rocks Bridge and into Illinois.  While still a bike path it is now what is left of the famous old Route 66.  In Illinois the path is called the Madison County Trail and while now on the east side of the river, it too parallels it, spending most of the time on top to the levee.  Large barges float by, grain elevators rise in the distance, coal bins sit waiting for the next shipment.  The commerce on the river is still an active one, just as it was in our early history for the Indians and the white man who followed.  

The only mishap today, while minor, was very annoying -- thought I heard a gun shot while in a part of the trail that was nothing but wide open land -- by the time I rethought the sound -- realized that my tire had just blown out its sidewall!!!  My new, not even paid for yet, tire now had a big hole in its side and I was not near anything!!  With the help of several other riders, we patched it with a dollar bill (never leave home without some emergency cash!), put in a new tube and off I went down the road again.  Tonight's after dinner chore -- put on new tire!!

As one rides along this beautiful river, thoughts of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn all easily come to mind.  The high limestone bluffs peppered with caves, the log piles floating down river that could have been a raft with a little imagination, the steamboats docked waiting for passengers -- it is not hard to understand how Mark Twain found this area such a wonderful source of writing material. 

The whole day was predominately spent on a bike trail.  There were some small diversions, but nothing with traffic or hazards.  One surprise found in the heat of the day was a small quaint village tucked in-between two small bluffs along side the river.  In days of old it was probably a "stop" for river folk.  Today it is a "bed and breakfast" village complete with its own pie shop.  After several hours of riding in the direct sun and in need of an energy boost, what could be better than a pie shop!!!  And they served the old fashion root beer floats!!!!  Save the day!!

The hotel for tonight is in Grafton, Il and was built in the 1800s.  Like the small village we found, this was originally the resting place for the river folks of that period.  Today it still is!  Only we arrived on bikes, not boats.  In the summer months the latter would prevail.  Beautiful old hotel - Hotel Ruebel.

Tomorrow is a long ride, so the night is a short one.

Frankie Existing St Louis on the Mississippi River Trail

Kathy at the Freedom Mural

At The Chain of Rock Bridge

Sue, Jan, Janet at Bridge

Old Route 66 On the Bridge

Looking Out Over the Mississippi River

Crossing the State Line into Illinois

Carol, JoAnn, Kathy, Sue Frankie Enjoying a Root Beer Float!

Frankie After Enjoying the Float!!!

Sue Loves Root Beer Floats Too!

Frankie eyeing Grafton, IL in the Distance