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As I write this I’m sitting at a picnic table on the corner of Main and Market Street in St. Genevieve, Mo.
Sabra and I are on our eighth annual two-week bicycle trip. Last year we went to Germany, and prior to that Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.
This year’s trip started in Alton, Ill. I chose it because it is midway between two places we wanted to visit: St. Louis and Pere Marquette State Park.
The highlight of the 27-mile ride to St. Louis was crossing the Mississippi on the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which at one time is where the fabled Route 66 spanned the river. We also enjoyed a two dollar elevator ride to the top of a 150-foot observation tower at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, a magnificent view. Other than that, the poorly designed, maintained and marked trail has little to offer. Along the way we passed a gigantic oil refinery, fields of junked cars, mountains of trash and an olio of various stinks, smells and odors.
Staying a night in downtown St. Louis, however, made it worth it. We reserved a room at the 29-story Millennium Hotel. The Gateway City was hopping as the Cardinals and Rams were both in town, plus Taylor Swift was in concert. In addition, the world’s largest bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich was being built at a place called Iron Barley’s. Besides constructing a 224-foot sandwich, participants enjoyed games of tomato dodgeball, showing slightly more decorum than Republican presidential candidates. At first I feared our stay would be disastrous as the check-in line stretched out of sight down a wide corridor but it moved quickly, and we were soon cooling our heels on the18th floor with a perfect view of The Gateway Arch.
Later, we dined at the Top of the River, the revolving restaurant on the top of the hotel. We stretched the meal out to an hour-and-a-half so we made a complete rotation getting more views of the arch, the river, downtown and Busch stadium, where a game was in progress.
The room was $159, the meal $100, and looking down on 40,000 Redbird fans, priceless.
The next morning, we headed out early for our return trip thru Alton and onto The Lodge at Pere Marquette State Park a few miles north of Grafton. Leaving St. Louis, we took the McKinnley Bridge and rode on the Illinois side, which was a little shorter but also lacked scenery. Getting back to Alton in 23 miles, we pressed on the additional 27 to get to the lodge.
The scenery along this stretch was much better but the joy of the ride was dampened by a seemingly-endless stream of Harley Davidson riders out for a Sunday cruise.
I’m all for seeing things from two wheels and can even allow that some just can’t handle a real bicycle, but why do they go out of their way to make their machines so loud?