Day 1: May 25, 2007
No Lick, Just Boone
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Jay's Inn, Vandalia, IL The Depot, Vandalia, IL The Depot, Vandalia, IL My Thursday night stop was the semi-familiar Jay' Inn in Vandalia, IL. Aside from the mini-arch at the neighboring Travellodge, there is nothing all that photo worthy here. Just priced-right clean rooms with everything you need and that includes a good restaurant and lounge right next door. That's not what's pictured, however. I've eaten a couple of times at Jay's Restaurant and liked it but tonight I tried the more upscale, Depot. It was still light when I reached Vandalia and I took advantage of that to drive past the old capital and Madonna. While doing that, I passed The Depot, which I've noticed on previous trips, and decided this was a good chance to try it. I mentioned that to the desk clerk when I checked in and was told, "I've been there... once!" She then preceded to tell me of her New Year's Day experience with bad service and rolls that were first missing then rock hard when they appeared. When she ended with, "But that was years ago, maybe things have changed", I decided to go ahead and risk it. I thought of retreating when I got my first look inside and saw cloth covered tables and waiters with ties. But I fought off that scare, too, and was rewarded with a quite good and surprisingly reasonably priced meal - with good service and very tasty rolls.

St Louis, MO St Louis, MO St Louis, MO On Thursday's drive, I had hit rain several times including some pretty heavy stuff just west of Indianapolis. When I got up Friday, it wasn't raining but it obviously had been. I made it maybe twenty miles before the first drops hit. That first encounter of the day eventually became a fairly serious downpour but lasted only twenty minutes or so. It rained on and off all the way to St Louis but was never again very heavy.

My first target in St Louis was a DAR marker just across the street from the old court house. Relocated from its original position at 7th & Market, it honors the combination of the St Charles Rock Road and the Boone's Lick Road which it call the "First Trail West".

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis, MO Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis, MO Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis, MO Bellefontaine Cemetery, St Louis, MO The next stop was Bellefontaine Cemetery. I first became aware of this place back in December when I was reading Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi". He mentioned Isaiah Sellers as the man who first used the name Mark Twain and a little searching revealed that Sellers was buried at Bellefontaine. Then I found out the man who, for $500, taught the young Sam Clemens to be a river pilot is here, too. I added William Clark to my list and arrived with three plot numbers in my notes. An extremely helpful gal in the office near the entrance fixed me up with maps and I set off grave hunting. Sellers was on the map and easy to find but no so the instructor, Horace Bixby. I scoured the area without luck. I'm throwing in the picture of Adolphus Busch's crypt since it's right next to where Sellers was found and where Bixby should be. With an internet connection at hand, I've rechecked the Bixby info and verified I was at the right place but missed it. It's not too prominent as the FindAGrave information (which I should have studied closer.) shows.

But there was no problem finding William Clark's monument as well as the markers for lots of family members who apparently want to keep in touch with the famous soldier/explorer.

St Charles Rock Road, St Louis, MO St Charles Rock Road, St Louis, MO I didn't start at whatever might be considered its current beginning, but I did cut over to St Charles Rock Road (a.k.a MO-180) from the cemetery. Apparently it begins life in downtown St Louis as Martin Luther King Drive but reverts to the old name somewhere along the way. It's not a very exciting drive for most of its length. It spots there are concentrations of auto repair joints and used car lots and even a small cluster of boarded up businesses here and there but mostly it's just kind of "city normal". Never scary, never quite depressing, and certainly not scenic. Not, that is, until I came to the Airway Centre sign. I'm guessing that beauty once graced a drive-in's entrance. It was just about 9:00 AM when I spotted her and I was tempted to wait for nightfall to see that twirling neon.

The only other thing worth noting was the DAR marker just south of I-270 near St Charles Rock Road's intersection with Natural Bridge Road. The road originally led to a ferry which crossed the Missouri to connect with the start of Boone's Lick Road in St Charles. I drove to its end thinking there might be a nice riverside view or a St Charles skyline shot there. Nope. Just an ugly gravel pit. I back tracked and took I-70 over the river.

St Charles, MO St Charles, MO This is sort of the "official" beginning of Boone's Lick Road although the road doesn't actually start there now and never did. Since 1863, it has started at Main Street on the south side of Blandhette Creek. Prior to that it started at Main just a bit north of the creek.

I stole the framing from a shot Kip did on that Sweetheart Cruise but the tree leaves almost block the old court house in my version. The red flowers do look nice though, don't you think?

St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO Down by the river, The KATY trail runs by the city's Frontier park. The KATY is a very successful Rails-To_Trails program using the right of way of the Missouri- Kansas-Texas Railroad. The park includes the restored St Charles rail station and an oversized statue of Meri, Bill, & Seaman. Nice river views, too.

St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO Then there's historic Main Street. lots of old builds have been preserved and restored and many have businesses of some sort operating in them. Restaurants, antique stores, gift shops, and art galleries abound. The last three buildings are on the corner near the start of Boone's Lick Road. The first is the Blanchette-Chouteau Mill which has housed Trailhead Brewery since 1995. A mill was first built here in 1769 and part of the present building dates from 1789. The Boone's Lick Trail Inn, a bed and breakfast, is right across the street and the Western House sits on the corner opposite the brewery.

I returned here at the end of the day and had dinner at Trailhead. I had read some rather unflattering reviews of the place but I found both beer and food pretty good. Not five-star knock-your-socks-off good but pleasant-tasting nice-setting good. The building beside the Western House is the Conservatory. It's described as a "setting for wedding receptions" and they had one tonight. When I left the brewery, the street was semi-blocked by people lined up waiting, I assume, for the newly-weds.

St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles, MO St Charles was Missouri's first capital and it "earned" that honor by providing the top floor of the row of building rent-free. The owners got their $2.50 a day rent but it was paid by the citizens of St Charles and not the state government. The building have been completely restored and tours are available that show not only the workings of frontier government but some of the commercial enterprise just one floor down.

Nathan Boone's House, MO Nathan Boone's House, MO Nathan Boone's House, MO Nathan Boone's House, MO Nathan Boone's House, MO After the tour of First Capital tour, I returned to the car and headed towards Daniel Boone's Home. The house actually belonged to his son Nathan although it is where Daniel and Rebecca lived out their final years and Daniel's got the name recognition. The area was still under Spanish control when the Boones first moved here and Daniel was appointed a "syndic" or judge. Being the ultimate outdoor man, Daniel held "court" beside the house at what soon became known as the Judgment Tree. At some point, someone apparently thought that cement would help the diseased tree and essentially filled it up with he stuff. The treatment probably hastened the tree's demise but it did leave a pretty solid indicator as to just where the Boone court room was.

It took seven years (1803-1810) to build the house which is just about as much fort as home. Note the gun ports beside the door and windows. Indians never attacked but if they had, the Boones were ready. The balconies and dormers seen in that last picture were later additions but the Boones did use all four floors.

Daniel Boone's Grave, MO Daniel Boone's Grave, MO Daniel Boone's Grave, MO Daniel Boone's Grave, MO The last stop of the day was at Daniel Boone's grave. I drove a little bit of gravel road on the way there although its's not really necessary. The gravel road and the KATY trail run side by side for some distance. I was standing on the trail when I took that first picture.

I happen to be among those who believe Daniel Boone is still buried on this Missouri hillside but many believe differently. In 1845, after Daniel had been dead twenty years, some folks from Kentucky talked the folks in Missouri into letting them relocate Daniel and Rebecca. The sales pitch involved a big monument and a beautiful spot in the Kentucky capital. The spot really is beautiful but it may not be Daniel Boone under that stone. A little Googling should turn up plenty of the arguments for both sides.

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