Friday, August 24, 2012

Missouri River Rumble-Day 7

A view back up the Missouri.  We were now seeing bars of
sand and gravel rather than mud.
Seeking a spot of shade.
Our seventh day would be a 27.8 mile paddle from Klondike to St. Charles. We expected the ramp there would be busy, as both ourselves and the Missouri 340 would be landing in St. Charles. As it turned out, our landing spots were separated by about a tenth of a mile, so there was no conflict at all.

The St. Charles train station.

As we passed under the I-70 bridge, an interstate that grew from a trail originally laid out by Daniel Boone, we passed the huge Ameristar Casino. Being so large and right on the river bank, I first thought it had to be a power plant, but then saw the hotel and sign. We would be camping at the St. Charles Frontier Park just beyond the Ameristar and Lewis and Clark Boathouse. For the second night, there would be no trains nearby. There was a length of tracks remaining as part of a display by the old railroad station, but this again was part of the Katy Trail, and we would see hikers and bikers stopping and passing through during our stay. As soon as we got our boats ashore and climbed over the levee, the heat drove us all to find patches of shade in which to place our tents.

Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Lewis' dog, Seaman.
St. Charles is the county seat of St. Charles County. For anyone with an interest in history, it is a must see. A large portion of the original buildings on Main Street still remain. In 1769, St. Charles was established as the first permanent settlement on the Missouri and originally called Les Petites Cotes, or the Little Hills. It is the third oldest city west of the Mississippi, was the last civilized stop for Lewes and Clark’s Expedition, and later served as the terminus for stagecoach lines, supply trains, and the jump-off point for trailheads for the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. When Missouri became a state in 1821, St. Charles served as the first capital before it was moved to Jefferson City.

Main Street, St. Charles.

We were on our own for dinner, so I walked up to Main Street in search of a restaurant. The choices there run the range from very high-end eateries with fancy names, to bars and pizzerias. I was about to get an awakening as to exactly how seedy I must have looked after a week on the river. I walked into Tuner’s Bar and Grill, I believe it was, and asked the barmaid if they served sandwiches. She gave me a slow, uncertain, “No,” as she gave me a slow look over. She added, “I think the place you’re looking for is up the street and down the alley. They serve $1 burgers, $1 drinks, and $1 fries.” Apparently the Salvation Army or some similar outreach has a soup kitchen in town. I continued on down Main Street to Frankie Tocco’s Pizzeria, where I got a warmer reception, a nicely air-conditioned booth, and a tall pitcher of ice water along with my beer, and a fish sandwich. I’ve never seen a fish sandwich like this. It was two large pieces of fish on a full toasted sub roll, and goood. It would have put to shame any two fish sandwiches I’ve ever had before. St. Charles is another town worth a long visit, as some of these pictures will show.
The sunset filters through a thickening sky for our last river encampment.


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