Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Perryville, Missouri

We left Red Bay, Alabama this morning at 8 am and started north. There are a surprisingly high number of new metal roofs in northern Alabama and western Tennesee. Large homes had them. Small homes had them. Huge commercial buildings had them and small commercial buildings had them. We debated the reasons this might be true but didn't come up with a satisfactory answer. My theory was that they were good protection against hail storms but that did not hold up either so we never really figured out why this was the case.

At noon we crossed the Mississippi River after traveling some astonishingly good roads out of Alabama and Tennesee. Crossing to the west the interstate, I-55, turned from a westerly course to a northerly one taking aim on St. Louis, Missouri. The land reflects its origins as river sediment and is as flat as the water surface that made it, the Mississippi. We traversed the river flood plain northward and after 580 miles called it a day.

We are now in Perryville, Missouri at a nice KOA campground. Bob tried to setup our satellite tv system but the elevation of the dish at this latitude is 45 degrees and while we have a clear shot from this campsite there are some trees about a hundred yards away whose tops seem to be causing us just enough loss of signal that we have no tv. That is really nothing important to us as we are both enjoying two or three books each. We just came in from outside where the sound of crickets and frogs is deafening. Bob even saw a firefly pass overhead. It is still opressively warm outside though so we didn't stay outside very long.

The next stretch of the trip takes us into the ever widening spaces of the great plains. St. Louis was the staging area for the great covered wagon trains that traveled westward when the west was still unpopulated. I suppose back then it was almost like Cape Canaveral is to our present day explorers as the west was an unexplored and dangerous place. The number of campgrounds seems to be dwindling. Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas have few and they are very far apart. It is hard to look at a map and appreciate the vastness of this country. Just to get from our present location to the Dakotas is going to take us a few days if we drive only five hours a day. I might have to put in some more 500 mile days to get some distance covered.

We checked the weather in Banff, Alberta today and the high at 6pm their time was 72 degrees. That is quite a contrast to the temps here that are in the 90s with a heat index over 100. We are determined to continue north until the days cool down. That may take us a week or so and will take us across an area that sometimes has powerful thunderstorms. Fortunately, most of the tornado producing storms take place in the spring but the towering clouds can still contain hail and dangerous lightning. We will have a weather eye out at all times and will be using our cellular connection to check for storm warnings as we traverse that area.

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