Trouble in Paradise
18.07.2015 - 21.07.2015
I picked up some travel literature at the first visitor center in Missouri. I meant to get gas. I forgot.
Rolling along I 70 a few miles later, it seemed my windshield wipers were slowing down. All of a sudden my radio went off. Hmmmm.... Well, maybe it is just giving up before the van does.
When I looked at the dash, I realized I was out of gas. I literally rolled off the fortunately-placed exit ramp and into a gas station. I flagged down a very nice man who pushed Ol' '95 up to the pump despite the falling rain.
Of course, there was no connection between the empty gas tank and the other problems, so I called roadside assistance for a charge.
He recommended I go to O'Reilly's just up the street and have the battery and the alternator checked.
As soon as I pulled up to the store, the car stalled again. We could not start it without a jump. Sure enough the alternator was shot.
Although a Firestone was just across the street, I had to wait another hour for another tow truck to come and get me across the street.
My day that had started out so full of anticipation had become a 9-4 day of frustration and expense. I did, however, meet some very nice folks at both Firestone and O'Reilly's I was joking about being stuck in a place called O'fallon, Missouri, so I Googled it to see what I could learn. Even everyone in the Firestone shop was surprised to learn that Money Mag had listed it as one of the top 100 places to live! Sorry, but I'll stay in Denver regardless of the rating or the nice folks.
I definitely recommend O'Reilly's auto parts anywhere in the nation. This is the third time I have used them. They test almost any thing for free. If you purchase a new battery, wiper blades, light bulbs, etc., they install them for free. They did not charge me for the battery/alternator test even though I did not purchase the new alternator from them.
By the way, back in Ohio I had careened off the edge of the drawbridge where I had stopped to take a photo. The two truck driver and Firestone all agreed I had done some real damage to my rear tire and I was taking a big risk driving along the Interstate with it. I now have one blackwall.
I had noted a state park where I wanted to stay, but became weary and stopped at the Double Tree in downtown Jefferson City.
It was just like going back to 1967. The only activity in the hotel were a handful of people from St Louis coming to testify at some kind of regulatory hearing. The hotel is round with a restaurant on top.
The population of Jefferson City is less than 50,000. Apparently, it is spreading out in typical USA sprawl while the downtown sits empty and undisturbed except for government offices. The area around the capitol is rather charming with statues, churches, and commemoration of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Missouri River flows right behind the capitol building.
Somehow, everything I tried to do since I crossed the Mississippi was thwarted or disappointing.
I think this was to prepare me to be ready to come home.
I headed for Independence, Missouri to visit the Harry S Truman home.
That didn't work out either.
I Googled Visitor Center and followed the directions.
Boy was I surprised when I arrived. I had never imagined old HST would have such an ostentatious visitor center.
Well, he doesn't! When I approached, I realized I was at a very important spot for the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)!
Had I looked more closely at the fewer than 10 cars in the parking lot, I might have suspected something when half the license plates were from Utah.
It is an amazing complex, however. This is actually a temple and not the visitor center. apparently, all the flags represent the nations with Mormons and is dedicated to peace.
I finally found the HST Visitor Center.
Apparently, the clerk at this center was Mormon because he did not find my confusion amusing.
Eventually, I also found the HST museum and library.
By this time, I only had an hour before closing. In retrospect, that was enough.
I found my way to Watkins Mill State Park . Although all other campers walked through my site on the way to the shower room, I chose this one because all the others had been strewn with straw because of all the rain and this one was just right to hang the hammock. It was still very hot and muggy and sleeping in the van was not the most comfortable option.
Next day a trip to St Joseph, Missouri offered a visit to the Walter Cronkite Memorial
and the Pony Express Museum.
I enjoyed both very much, but don't go out of your way.