The gently rolling terrain; verdant fields or corn, barley and soy; and the farmhouses, church steeples and grain silos of southern Indiana and Illinois were a picture of pastoral beauty. Lot's of "ooos" and "aaahs" from everyone. Also, Samuel has learned a lot of about reading maps and calculating distances and time of arrival to various points along the way. He's become quite the second-in-command to our chief navigator which is usually Mom. Among many things, he now knows that even numbered highways run east/west, odd numbered ones run north/south, and mile posts count backwards towards state lines when traveling west.
We made it to St. Louis by lunch time. Not only were we excited to see it, but it also seemed symbolic that we stop at the Jefferson Westward Expansion Monument since we were on a journey to explore the wonders of the West. Needless to say, it was a hot and humid afternoon. RV parking was located about a half-mile from the monument. To get there we went under an 12-foot-two-inch overpass with only a two-inch clearance to the top of our RV (let's call him Monty from now on). It was too close for all of our comfort levels, but we we went slowly and fortunately we passed under it without a scrape. The real problem turned out to be the heat and humidity. I thought I might have to hale a police car or call an ambulance or purchase a ride on one of the tourist helicopters to return us to the RV as the heat proved to be a significant opponent to some of us. It was a little scary and stressful, and I wont go into all of the sordid details here out of respect for the privacy of those most affected, but long-story-short we did make it back to the cool, air conditioned comforts of "Monty" and everyone survived without any permanent damage. I don't think anyone was actually in any danger, but it does make me question our chosen destination. Should we be driving north instead of southwest? Well, at least it will be a dry heat and the nights will be cool. I'm really looking forward to that!
While in St. Louis we stopped at a Whole Foods Market to stock up on some perishables such as fruits, berries, vegetables, deli-sliced meats and bread for sandwiches. West of St. Louis we drove through several moderate-to-severe thunderstorms—one of which obstructed our view of the road so badly that we pulled onto the shoulder until it slowed. Beyond that it cleared up, and we drove through Kansas City, MO while the sun's angle in the sky made it necessary to wear sunglasses and to lower the visors.
We arrived in Lawrence, Kansas at 8:30 p.m. Mom made another delicious and quick dinner of homemade meatballs with spaghetti and marinara; and sauteed spinach and summer squash from the garden. So good! Now, the hot, humid, still, night air has given way to a moderate breeze of drier air from someplace sweet and wonderful. Perhaps from someplace high in the Colorado Rockies. Certainly, we are no longer under the influence of the muggy, tropical cellophane blanket of the Gulf of Mexico. Whew!
Tomorrow we will climb 6,672 feet in elevation by the time we settle in Estes Park, CO at more that 7,522 feet above sea level. It will be a completely different environment that we are experiencing now—and for many of us it will be completely different than ever experienced. The low temperature tomorrow is forecast to be in the upper 30s, high temperatures in the low 70s. We get to stay there for two nights! Campfires, hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows.