(Thursday, February 28):Â After a good nightâ€™s rest at the La Quinta, we leisurely got up, ran through our morning routines and breakfast, checked some emails, and loaded up the car for departure.
10:36 am EST:Â Left La Quinta Inn, Eastern Indianapolis, Indiana.Â Temperature at 35 degrees F.Â Weather was cloudy with a misty rain.Â 308.0 miles from home.Â We cranked up Pinkâ€™s Greatest Hits on the iPod and zoomed on our way.
After I (David) handled all the driving on the first day, Sue took over for the second day of the trip.
12:03 pm EST / 11:03 am CST:Â After passing by Terre Haute with barely a glance, we crossed into Illinois, and switched over to the Central Time Zone.Â 404.2 miles from home, grooving to Johnny Cashâ€™s hits album.Â Cloudy, 39 degrees F.
This area of Illinois is flat.Â Really flat.Â Even the GPS unit, which have named “Nigel”, was dull.Â Just a straight purple line for most of this leg of the trip.
12:51 pm EST / 11:51 am CST:Â We reached Effingham, Illinois (â€œCrossroads of Opportunityâ€).Â This is one of the larger cities between Terre Haute and St. Louis.Â We were hungry, we needed a pit stop, and the car needed gas, so we exited I-70 here.Â Temperature at 37 degrees F.Â Gas $3.80 per gallon.Â 463.0 miles from home.
Chowed down for lunch at KFC.Â Not the healthiest food, but safe travelling food for sure.
1:53 pm EST / 12:53 CST:Â Back on the road.Â Temperature at 36 degrees F.
Just outside Effingham is â€œThe Crossâ€.Â This is a moment of Christian inspiration directly next to I-70 near the intersection with I-57.Â Hereâ€™s our shot of it from the highway.
In the photo above, you can see the overcast skies we faced for the entire trip.Â To learn more about â€œThe Crossâ€ click here to visit their website.
Next stop, the St. Louis area in just under 90 miles.
About 20 miles outside of St. Louis, we opted to take I-270 and cross the Mississippi River north of St. Louis rather than passing through the city proper.
3:16 pm EST / 2:16 CST:Â Finally, after 557 miles on the road, we crossed the mighty Mississippi River into Missouri on I-270 west!
It was a bit of a thrill to cross this great waterway again.Â Thereâ€™s so much history tied to this river.Â Lewis & Clark discovering it.Â Itâ€™s use as a commerce channel to move goods North and South.Â Itâ€™s folklore in the writings of Mark Twain.
Not long after crossing the Mississippi, we got caught up in a major traffic slowdown on I-270 as the road merged back with I-70 West. Â Nigel alerted us to the construction zone, and as you can see on Nigel’s screen below, we were only travelling 8.3 miles/hour in this traffic backup.
Turns out the backup was due to construction work on the bridges over the Missouri River.Â Apparently the highway administration is rebuilding the westbound bridge over the Missouri.
We were very disappointed at the lack of snow covering for most of the trip. Â Even in this area of I-70 in Missouri, just north of St. Louis.
We paused briefly for a rest stop at 3:55 pm EST (2:55 pm CST) at exit 225 off I-70 at a Hampton Inn. We were about 580 miles from home, and the current temperature reading on the RAV was 36 F. Â We got back on the road at 4:15 pm EST (3:15 pm CST), still listening to U2’s Greatest Hits on the iPod.
An oddity that we did not capture a photo of was a bicyclist (!) in the left berm along the concrete median wall on I-70. We hope he made it alive to where he was going.
It wasn’t until we were almost half-way to Columbia from St. Louis, at about mile marker 199 at about 4:43 pm EST (3:43 pm CST), that we saw consistent snow covering the ground.
There were off and on flurries during the rest of the drive to Columbia, but the road was cleared down to the pavement, so driving conditions were just fine.
We got off I-70 at Exit 131 per Nigel (we are using our GPS using a British accented male voice). Â We paused briefly at a Holiday Inn with a conference center for a rest stop at 5:36 pm EST (4:36 pm CST), about 672 miles from home. Â Flurries, but roads were cleared. However, there were very deep snow piles where the parking lots and roads had been plowed.
At 5:56 pm EST (4:56 pm CST) we got back on the road for the last few miles to Patty and Chris’s house. Â We arrived at 6:02 pm EST (5:02 pm CST) and saw Patty and Chris walking LadyBug and Trolley just across the street from their house. Â The temp was 34 F and we were a total of 675 miles from home.
Chris continued walking the dogs, and Patty brought us into the house where we were welcomed by Cinnamon and Toast, two of the four cats in the house. Â Cinnamon showed off his balance beam routine for us.
After Chris finished walking the dogs, he prepared a delicious home-cooked meal for us. Â One of the neighbors stopped by with truffles for our dessert.
After that, Sue helped Patty do some packing, Chris practiced his guitar, and eventually we all called it a night!
Tomorrow … visiting Columbia, and packing!
More pictures below! Â (Click on any photo to enlarge)