Yesterday we stayed in Collinsville, just outside St Louis. Getting there was an adventure and we went twice over the ‘Chain of Rocks’ Bridge – once the wrong way, then the other time the right way. We lost sense of our direction so called into a gas station to ask the staff there for help but none knew how to get us back on our route. I accosted the guy next to me and asked him – not only did he know but he told us to follow him and drove us right to the hotel. I was so pleased I could’ve had his babies! His poor elderly mother was in the car and just what she made of this crazy Englishwoman jumping up and down, shaking his hand and kissing him I don’t know – she’d probably only thought she was going out to fill up with gas! But there you go, angels do walk the earth.
Today we spent the morning trying to get the hire car fixed. The dashboard kept telling us to check the tyre pressure and then when we had to make an emergency stop (not our fault for once) the wheels and brakes seemed to shudder. I wanted the wheel alignment checked as well as the tyres and brakes but with the car rental they just replace your car if there’s anything wrong with brakes and don’t have the facility to fix anything. Unfortunately the local branch didn’t have a spare car and I wasn’t prepared to hang around. Eventually I was directed to the nearest Firestone garage, which just happened to be inside Fort Leonard Wood. It was very strange driving on a military base, watching lots of on- and off-duty service personnel go about their business. The guys at Firestone couldn’t have been more helpful and found a nail in the back driver side tyre and a tyre deformity on the offside front tyre. They quickly changed them and we resumed our journey.
We spent most of the afternoon in St Louis, first of all taking a tram ride on a round the city tour through the park and past all the historic buildings. We learnt a bit of the establishment of St Louis and also about the gambling laws and casinos. It was fascinating. After that we had vouchers for a free appetizer for lunch and we shared that and a main meal – I’m learning! The it was on foot to the Arch, where we went up in tiny little cars that left you extremely squashed. After that we went into the museum about the establishment of St Louis, its pioneers and their relationships with the First Nation Americans. Fascinating. We ended our stay with walk round the Hispanic Festival, then hit the road again. Tonight we’re in St Robert, Missouri.