Rising at 05:30 and on the road by 06:30, I hoped to reach St Louis by 9am, but I hadn`t realised how large Missouri is. It took four hours to cross the state, arriving in the bustling city while it was still cool.
I went to the world-famous Arch, officially title the Jefferson Westward Expansion Memorial, which is a beautiful 1960s steel arch on the banks of the Mississippi. Perhaps in the 60s, like with so many Worlds Fair sites, they all anticipated we`d be happy to travel in tiny bubble-shaped vehicles, and so installed a set of such devices to haul tourists up to the top. The 4.5-foot capsule rode up a curved track inside the arch and brought me to the observation deck for great views vertically downwards over the river and the city.
The Mississippi, as far upstream as we were, is already huge, fast-flowing, and of a thick brown consistency. It was possible to see logs and other flotsam wending its way towards New Orleans at quite a pace.
The rest of the drive was long and boring. I crossed 6 states: Kansas (my route through Kansas City took me back into Kansas), Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and finally Georgia. The trip was 800 miles and is the longest I have ever driven and possibly ever will. I`ll certainly never complain or even think twice about a drive to Scotland or the Alps. I can handle anything now. For comparison, 800 miles is the same distance as John O`Groats to Truro, Cornwall (I needed only another 35 miles to have reached the same distance as to Land`s End); from Atlanta to Trenton, NJ; or Budapest to Geneve.
I arrived back Chez Searle gone 10pm, one helluva long day. It was wonderful to be greeted by friendly faces and to have a hug containing genuine affection after so long with emptiness. I was exhaused but wired from the drive and two whole bottles of Five Hour Energy, so champage and beer was just the ticket.
I am about to unpack the car and prepare it for sale, after which I will write my conclusions about the trip.