Monday, May 22, 2006

On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again.

Rooty and I took a road trip on Sunday, into St. Charles County and Warren County (west of St. Louis). We took I-270 west from our house and then turned onto MO-364, known locally as the Page Ave. Extension. This was my first trip on 364 and it is a terrific freeway -- I kept saying "I can't believe MODOT built this!"

364 does have two funny signs. First, there's an exit for "Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park." Is the park really a memorial to the lake? Second, once 364 crosses the Missouri River there is an exit for the "Upper Bottom Road." There was no corresponding exit for a "Lower Bottom Road" so I guess just screw those people.

Once 364 joins MO-94, it stays divided but becomes a long series of traffic signals until you reach I-64 where 364 ends and 94 continues. It is difficult to describe Highway 94. Most of the very old highways in Missouri follow older Indian trails, so they meander along the tops of ridges, going up or down a hill only to reach a good place to ford a stream or river. Highway 94 clearly follows the path of a chicken with it head cut off, weaving this way and that, going up and down hills at random, and featuring sharp right-turns and sharp left-turns for no discernible reason. It's mostly two lanes with no shoulders.

But the countryside am beautiful. The highway serpentines it's way through the hills and valleys on the north side of the Missouri River. This is roughly as far south as the glaciers came and they left behind some fabulous terrain. There are also these wonderfully spooky building left over from the WWII uranium processing plant at Weldon Springs (above photo). [While we tend to think of the Manhattan Project as being at Los Alamos, New Mexico, there were actually facilities all over the country providing materials and other support for Los Alamos. The Manhattan Project was larger in scope than the entire automobile industry.] Really spooky buildings!

Highway 94 also goes through the little town of Defiance, now a lot of tourist things, but originally the home of Daniel Boone (he died nearby). His stone house was moved on its foundation in 1811 by the New Madrid, Missouri, earthquake 180 miles away -- how scary is that?

From Highway 94, I cut down to the Missouri River bottom to the Augusta Bottom Road. Calling this abomination a "road" is like calling Roseanne charming or Carrot Top handsome. The road was damaged in the great flood of 1993 and they clearly have not done a damn thing to it since. Think "What would Ma and Pa Kettles's driveway be like?" and that's pretty much the Augusta Bottom Road. It is supposed to be maintained by Warren County so I decided not to spend any money there.

We came back on I-44 -- this is what it is like going east: two lane with shoulder; two lanes narrow no shoulder; two lanes shoulder; two lanes narrow detour no shoulder; three lanes with shoulder; two lanes narrow detour no shoulder; three lanes with shoulder (but lots of traffic cones sitting so they must close one or more lanes on weekdays). Krispy-Kreme at Fenton. If you are driving cross country, try Iowa!


siren said...

I love the Page Ave. extension. The first thing that comes to mind when I'm driving on it is that it's so "luxurious" :)
that's 'cuz it was built not to disturb them rich folks :)

it looks more like a Texas freeway than something that MODOT would do, until you come to the two fast/left lanes becoming exit lanes of course then it's pure MODOT

Amy in SC soon to be StL said...

I've driven cross country several times and at least Missouri Roads keep you awake. Iowa road should just have two grooves in them so you can set your cruise control and sleep your away across the state.
no, you could snooze while driving across Missouri -- MODOT has 27 work zones on I-44 this summer, including several long stretches of one lane road -- these are the same detours that resulted in delays of hours and hours last summer

The Phoenix said...

The Page extension is very convenient. I can be in Creve Coeur in 10 minutes.

Upper Bottom is a strange name for a road indeed. St. Charles has a couple of them like, Salt Lick Rd.

Salt Lick Upper Bottom sounds perverted.
that's why the built it Phoenix, so you can get to Creve Coeur :)

instead of bending northwest for your convenience, it was originally supposed to be the "Outer Belt" and curve south to meet I-44 near Six Flags.

Upper bottom sounds like aplace where you would have to scratch!!!!

Bruce said...

Thankfully, I've never had the "privilege" of driving on Missouri roads. Virginia roads are no picnic, either, to be honest.
Phoenix- you think that's perverted; the original name of Roanoke, VA(just up the road from me) was Big Lick. Sounds like a good nickname for Gene Simmons.
hard to believe that salt was once so scarce and valuable that towns grew up around outcrops (licks)

:P fuzzbox said...

It is nice to take scenic drives through unfamiliar areas. But with the price of gas it is a luxury.
I get good mileage, I only used about a quarter tank

Willow said...

You like it over here, you know you do!

Full Willow Moon