US Road Trip Epilog: 24th August 2005

Alex and I spent a long time, earlier on in the road trip, discussing various topics. Hell, there was bugger all else to do for mile after mile. One of the favourite topics - well, one of the favourites that's repeatable - was the criteria for the perfect motel. The Holy Grail Motel, if you will.

It's probably an impossible quest, but the Drury Lodge in Cape Girardeau comes very close - nice clean room, furniture and carpet not covered in stains, wired internet access (faster and more secure than wireless), working power sockets, fridge, TV with a decent picture and all the channels, bar and restaurant nearby, air conditioning that doesn't smell of old socks and so on. The killer criteria for me, though, is being able to park the car right outside the room. I like to be able to keep an eye on it, and it makes checking the fluid levels etc. much easier.

The only fly in the ointment with the Drury Lodge is just that. When I was cleaning the car last night I left the door open and after that there were loads of flies buzzing around inside the room. Annoying, but as it's my fault I can't really complain.

More miles on Highway 61
More miles on Highway 61.

Out on Highway 61 once again, 125 miles or so north to East St. Louis. It's kind of a bittersweet drive as, though it's perfect driving weather (as it was yesterday) and quite scenic, I know these are these are the last real miles I'll be doing in the Riviera. Maybe. Time will tell.

Along the way I need to stop at a Wal-Mart and buy some more luggage, to hold all those plastic bags of laundry. $50 buys a huge rolling suitcase, and initially I think it's way too large but once all the laundry and other junk in the car is in there suddenly it doesn't seem so big. Lord alone knows how I'm going to manhandle this lot back to the UK.

On the outskirts of St. Louis I think it's wiser to use the Interstates past East St. Louis itself, which I know from experience isn't the kind of place you really want to drive through. The Interstates are as much of a nightmare as ever - poorly signposted, exit ramps on the wrong side, in desperate need of resurfacing - but we make it to the other side and Gateway Classic Cars. Charlie and Sal are as friendly as ever and, after a walk around to check on the (ever-expanding) stock, we make arrangements for tomorrow.

Now it's time to go back a few miles down the Interstate and find my hotel for tonight and tomorrow night. The Casino Queen isn't my kind of place at all but it's close to Gateway Classic Cars, next door to a MetroLink station, and after looking on the internet and quoting the offer code found there the room is only $59 a night (plus inevitable taxes). The room itself is very nice but of course there's no internet access and a limited range of TV channels. After all they want you out gambling, not staying in your room.

The gaming tables and slot machines inside the Casino Queen
The gaming tables and slot machines inside the Casino Queen. I feel kind of furtive taking pictures in here, like I'm a private detective documenting someone's gambling addiction or something.

Curiosity eventually gets the better of me and I have to go and have a look at the riverboat casino itself. Gambling interests me about as much as macrame but, having watched so much CSI Las Vegas (as well as movies like Casino), it is fascinating to see it in real life. Not so fascinating I actually feel any urge to participate, mind. I'll probably be blacklisted from return visits to the Casino Queen as I won't be registering - for free - as a member of their Queen's Club and using the $5 gambling voucher I was given at check in.

Sunset over St. Louis
Sunset over St. Louis.

On the deck of the Casino Queen is something much more to my taste, a beautiful sunset over St. Louis. The Gateway Arch is apparently the tallest monument in the US, built to symbolise the city's role as the gateway to the west.

US Road Trip Epilog: 25th August 2005 >