Mississippi River, where are you?
From Tulsa, OK To St. Louis, MO
Este artigo pode também ser encontrado em Português.
I was up and got ready to leave early in the morning, so after saying good-bye to my beloved friends, Josh, Laura, their lovely daughter Natalie and dogs Lilah and Luke (in memoriam), I caught the road towards the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, perhaps de city’s most well known attraction and the best of all: By the old and great Mississippi River… The origin of its name comes from the Native American language “ojibwe” – misi-ziibi, which means “Great River”. I was ready and excited to meet one of the largest rivers of our planet and highly important to the Northern American continent.
It was a long day, as I first planned to arrive in Springfield – Missouri at dusk, driving around one hundred and ninety miles, but I decided to go ahead and kick for almost four hundred miles, in order to have an extra day and enjoy the kindness of my sweet couple of friends – Jeff and Zu Dietzenbach, as well as their baby Emily. So many miles at fifty five miles on Route 66 and listening to a nice playlist of songs, what’s wrong with that? Couldn’t be better!
Shortly, I reached the state of Kansas with its 13.2 miles stretch and the old lead mining communities of Galena and Baxter Springs. Kansas was the first state to pave all of its portion of Route 66 in 1929. It was certainly, one of the best sections I had on the road on that day – even though its short length through the state from the old classic “Wizard of Oz” movie, Kansas was somehow special. I was able to find the old 1920s KanOtex service station, now called Four Women on the Route, after being purchased and restored by Betty Courtney, Renee Charles, Judy Courtney and Melba Rigg, the last one known as the “The Mouth of the Route”! They sell sandwiches (I had a great burger there!), snacks, antiques, Route 66 and Car’s items, including several made by local craftspeople and artists. Guess what I found outside the building: the mining boom truck that inspired the character “Tow Mater” from the Disney movie Cars! In case you’re interested, there’s a great book where it mentions on how Tow Mater was inspired – actually, it’s about the amazing research Disney has done to create every little detail for the animated movie, from the movie characters, the small town of Radiator Springs, Shops, Cafés, etc., – it’s called ”The Art of Cars”, published by Disney, with John Lasseter’s foreword, by Michael Wallis, with Suzanne Fitzgerald Wallis – I got mine as soon as finished my trip!
I spent some time talking to my friend Melba Rigg, one of the founding partners of Four Women on the Route. It’s amazing the fact that in a small town like Galena and its 3085 residents (2010 Census), you can see what amazing things people are now doing in these towns, as you can find how engaged they became, how they embraced their goal of keeping the dream of Route 66 alive and consequently, giving hope to a new re-birth of all these communities through the Main Street of America! Come on, it’s not only about Route 66 here, it’s about people like me and you, adults, kids and among all others kinds of people and professionals, it seems that yes, the dreams it’s still so alive!
Observing the climate change on that portion of Route 66 was probably the most interesting thing for me on that day, as you get to drive up north through America’s heartland. It was already October and I could really notice the effects of the falling leaves and mild temperatures kicking in, especially in the end of the day. Although I wasn’t driving exactly through the heart of the Tornado Alley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_Alley), I was able to go through the city of Joplin, Missouri, a few months after it was struck by a catastrophic F5 tornado (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Joplin_tornado), causing more than 150 casualties and an estimated damage of $3 billion. Even today, 13 months after the event, the residents of Joplin still try to recover their loss. What can I learn from something like that? I would say, the great power of mobilization from the American people. This is something I haven’t seen anywhere else in my life.
The remaining miles from that day was exactly what I dreamed to see through my eyes in so many years, like some quick stops to take shots of old bridges, like the Rainbow Bridge, the old Route 66 shields on the asphalt, old filling stations, antique stores, old houses, custard shops, burger places (I’m a huge fan of burgers, though!) and on and on and on… at less than 55 miles an hour, reaching St. Louis and the old Mississippi river at the end of the day!
Next part: Chicago, I’m almost there! From St. Louis, MO to Pontiac, IL.
Your pal from the road,