Route 66, Missouri: Part 2

Today was the second part of our Route 66 adventure across Missouri west-to-east. Today’s itinerary:

  • Departure: St. Robert, Missouri
  • Destination: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Miles: 152
  • Weather: sunny and warm
  • Little Free Libraries visited: 0 (I saw one, but it was empty, so we didn’t stop.)
  • “Muffler Man” giant statues: 1
Mega Major Muffler Man

Our first stop as we headed out of St. Robert was to find the Mega Major Muffler Man. I thought maybe he’d be wearing some sort of military uniform with the proximity of the Fort Leonard Wood army training base. Nope. He was outfitted in a wacky stars-and-stripe getup reminiscent of Uncle Sam if Uncle Sam wore sunglasses and played golf. With a golf ball relatively the size of a basketball. Oh, well. Whoever said the Muffler Men made any sense?

According to the Wikipedia list, there are only two Muffler Men in Missouri, and we found both of them on this trip.

Devil's Elbow Bridge

We crossed the Devil’s Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River. This was a very pretty section of the route.

As we passed through Doolittle, Lyle happened to remember that he possibly had distant relatives in the area. Or at least he used to. That made me remember that his grandpa was buried in the area, so I asked if he’d like to visit the cemetery. We had stopped yesterday evening at the Fort Leonard Wood military cemetery where his parents are buried. He said he would like that, so I looked up the location of the cemetery on and discovered it was only about 5 miles away.

Pea Ridge Cemetery, Roach, Missouri

We found the cemetery easily enough, but we didn’t end up finding the graves of Grandpa Dablemont or his parents (Lyle’s great-grandparents), who are also buried there. We did see the graves of a couple of great uncles. We could have kept looking, but Lyle said he was satisfied just to visit the cemetery, so we went on.

Fanning Outpost General Store

Our next stop was the Fanning Outpost General Store…

Route 66 Rocker

…home of the World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair. Naturally, it was the world’s largest when it was built… in 2008, so it’s not exactly a retro Route 66 attraction. However, we couldn’t resist the photo op of our car in front of it.

Route 66 and Interstate 44

Much of the route today paralleled the Interstate as a frontage road. You wouldn’t think that would be any more interesting than driving down the Interstate, but we decided that it actually is. For one thing, you drive slower. And then, you’re closer to things along the way and can easily pull over any time. Plus, you stop at intersections, not just whiz under or over them.

Route 66 mural

This was an interesting mural in Cuba. It’s a single wall, painted to look like a building.

Wagon Wheel Motel

Another interesting stop in Cuba was at the Wagon Wheel Motel. It has been in continuous operation since 1938.

Wagon Wheel Motel sign

We stayed there once in 1993 or 1994. That was before it was restored, and the price was super cheap. It seems like it was only $12 or $15 for a night. (At that time, the going rate for cheaper hotels was around $40 or $50, so that was a really good deal, even then.) The accommodations were rustic but comfortable. I’d be interested to stay there again sometime to see what the rooms are like now.

Meramec Caverns entrance

Our next little side trip was to the famous Meramec Caverns. We didn’t go through the cave. In fact, we didn’t even get out of the car. We were just curious to see what was there and how popular it was these days.

Meramec Caverns zip line

We were surprised at how many tents were in the large adjacent campground. I didn’t think caverns were much of a tourist attraction anymore. But then we saw there are zip lines, canoe rentals, riverboat rides, and guided floats. That explained the popularity of the destination.

Purina Farms

Another side trip we happened upon was Purina Farms near Gray Summit. Serendipitously, we arrived just in time for the afternoon trained dog show. I think there were six or seven different dogs, mostly border collies or Australian shepherds or mixes of those breeds, who demonstrated agility, disc catching, and jumping from a dock into a pool. One of the dogs jumped 35 feet today.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

By this time, we were getting close to St. Louis. The Catherdral Basilica of St. Louis is impressive.

McKinley Bridge

We drove across the Mississippi River on the McKinley Bridge

Chain of Rocks Bridge

…and circled back around to the pedestrian-only Chain of Rocks Bridge where we left Route 66 two years ago.

This leaves us three segments of Route 66 to complete:

  • Miami, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City (around 200 miles)
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico to Williams, Arizona (something over 500 miles)
  • Needles, California to L.A. (250ish miles)

We are discussing possibly doing the Oklahoma bit one Saturday soon. We’ll see if that happens. I don’t know that we’ll ever get those other western sections in, but anything could happen. Life is an adventure!

Previous Route 66 Adventures:

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