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Cobblestones, Rail Trails and River Walks

November 6, 2012

Missouri – Saturday, November 3

My first order of business today was to get an oil change – so I drove about 10 miles up the highway to a Valvoline oil change shop in St. Charles, and ended up staying all day – there was so much to see and so much good walking! What a wonderful introduction to Missouri!

After the oil change, I parked a block off the Main Street area, and planned to walk as far as I could on that street before circling around to the actual Main Street with all the shops (didn’t want to get distracted early in the day!). That part of the walk took us through the “antique district” and the historic Frenchtown district. St. Charles has a strong French background, and I even heard some people speaking French. On the far side of all of that, I came to the beginning of the KATY rail trail (a 225 mile trail where the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad used to run), which runs along the Missouri River, so we headed out of town for a ways on that. After about a mile and a half, we passed a dog park that was having some sort of event with a bunch of people and dogs, so we went down there to see what was going on. (I thought if it was a fund-raising event, I could make my animal-related donation). It turned out to be more of a rally to get a bunch of people to vote for a local resident and her dog who are one of 12 finalists in a contest that Beneful is sponsoring, and the winner gets a $500,000 makeover of their local dog park. So I dutifully voted, and there were human treats and doggie treats, and games with prizes. Since we were there when they announced a couple of the games – “Snoopy Says”; played like “Simon Says” – I figured we’d give it a shot. We came in third – haha! And it was my mistake that got us out. I was asking Tula to lay down (not her best trick) and it took a couple moments, and then I realized the other 2 people left weren’t making their dogs lie down because the announcer hadn’t said “Snoopy Says”. And then we also came in third out of the starting 12 in Musical Mats – the canine version of Musical Chairs. Tula’s so good on a leash now she didn’t seem to think it was strange that I was leading her in circles and periodically telling her to sit quickly! We won a nice collapsible feeding dish made by Outward Hound for our efforts!

Then we walked back into town along the rail trail, and walked the whole length of the Main Street, which was about a mile long with a cobblestone street, and restored brick and stone buildings that had been turned into dozens of quaint little shops, pubs and restaurants on the first floor, and apartments (I think!) with pretty wrought iron balconies on the second stories. There was a tiny little log church, and an old building that was the first capitol of Missouri. “Grandma’s Cookie Shop” was doing a brisk business with the motto that “a balanced diet is a cookie in each hand” and they use a fan to blow fresh-baked cookie smells out the door – I succumbed! I thoroughly enjoyed the town – one of my favorites yet – or maybe I’m just really happy to be back on the road! We circled back around to the van, and I put Tula in and went back into town so I could go into a few of the shops. I’m not usually much of a shopper, but there were a couple places I wanted to pop into – didn’t get anything, but it was fun to look. The Missouri River with a big riverfront park was a block or so on the other side of Main Street, so I walked back to the van to get Tula.

But first, I spent a little time looking into a possible donation. I hadn’t done much about that today, since I had pretty much planned the Red Cross donation to be for today instead of yesterday. But since I had enjoyed the town so much, I thought I would see if there were any local food pantries or anything that happened to still be open nearby, and to my surprise, the O.A.S.I.S. food pantry (Outreach Assistance Serving Individuals in St. Charles County) and thrift store were not only kind of nearby, but open til 5. There was actually a you-tube video on their website that explained their future goals. The first lady I talked to gave me a list of items they could use, so I headed out to shop. But it was about 4:30, so I decided to stop by the food pantry first to find out where I should leave the food if they were closed when I finished. I found out it’s illegal to leave food or clothing or anything by the doors – mostly because of bugs. So instead of shopping since time was running short and OASIS wouldn’t be open again til Tuesday, I gave them a check, which they can use to get what they need. The lady was interested in my story and how I happened to find them, and when I explained a little more about what I was doing, she offered to take me on a little tour of the facilities. It’s a nice set-up – the proceeds from the thrift store (nice and clean and organized) go toward food expenses, and they have private interview areas for the families that are referred to them, and the families are able to fill out a slip with a list of food and supplies that they need, and then a volunteer goes and fills the order. The families are not allowed to go into the food storage room, which is also very organized. OASIS owns an acre of property and they are renovating another building that will also be for a non-profit organization. So it ended up being an interesting visit.

Since there was still some daylight out, we went back to the river and walked around Frontier Park and along the path by the river. St. Charles is near the place where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers join (I had to learn a little river geography!) and was the starting point for Lewis and Clark’s great journey to explore the upper reaches of the Missouri. There’s a larger-than-life statue of them and their dog in the park. And Daniel Boone also settled in St. Charles with his family – so much history! I kind of liked the fact that St. Charles was the starting point for Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the west, and it was also the first town of my adventures west of the Mississippi.

It was a very full day, and I was happy to discover that Red Roof Inns, like Motel 6, are all pet-friendly and don’t charge any extra for pets. So far I’m finding both gas and motels are less expensive than in New England, and that’s good for the budget!

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One Comment
  1. Congats to you and Tula, Nancy! Third place. Yay! Loved this post and glad you’re on the road again.

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