Road Trippin' the USA: Eight Weeks Across America, Part 9

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on June 2, 2007 0 Comments











I was on my way to the Ozarks.  I know there is a lot to do there, but I figured checking out caves would be the way to go, so I was off to a tourist trap called Bridal Cave in Camdenton, Missouri.  .

Bridal Cave has an hour guided hike into a cave full of stalagtites and stalagmites.  It comes full with Indian lore of love, tragedy and marriage and keeping with the tradition, weddings take place in a cavern in the cave.  It was a fun tour and the formations were amazing.  My pictures do not do it justice



After touring the caves, I was back on the highway, headed fo St. Louis.  Along the freeway, I kept noticing signs for wineries and “Historic Hermann“, so when the exit came, I decided to check out the town.  Hermann is an Old World German town in the heart of America.  I would have loved to see the whole place, but since I had a ways to go, I decided I would just visit the wineries.  I went to both the Hermanoff and Stone Hill Wineries. I went on the tour at the Stone Hill winery and did some tasting at both.  It was a beautiful afternoon and Hermann is a lovely place to visit.  Once I’d stocked up on some cheese and sausages for later, I was back in the car, St. Louis bound.  Unfortunately, St. Louis was harder to get to than I thought.  I don’t know what it is about Missouri, but I got lost again!  The only two times I got lost in eight weeks was in Missouri!  I ended up driving around in circles IN THE RAIN until I finally got sorted out and made it to my motel by 9.  By this time I was starving and devoured the cheese and sausage.  I was wiped out after that and headed to bed early.




The next day I planned to see St. Louis. I got up and headed to an area called The Loop in the University district.  Like all large towns have, this is the area where all of the trendy shops, restaurants, and people are.  This area actually has a Walk of Fame similar to that in Hollywood, but specific to people who are famous people from St.Louis like Chuck Berry and Charles Lindbergh.  It was pretty cool, but walking through the loop was just like walking down Melrose in Hollywood or The Avenue in Seattle, or the Gaslamp in San Diego, so I didn’t stay long. 



fileId:3096224744143144;size:inter;I wanted to see the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (aka the St. Louis Arch) and after more driving around in circles, I finally found my way there.  By this time, it was early afternoon and by the time I got to the ticket desk, they were sold out of tickets to ride to the top.  That can give you an idea how many people were there, since they did rides up until 6pm!  It was packed.  I spent some time exploring the memorial and doing a little shopping and then decided it was time for a little gambling!  There was a casino right near the Memorial, well, and on a boat, so I “boarded” the boat with my “ticket” (it was weird and there were unusual rules that were complicated and I can’t quite explain how it works, but trust me this was not Vegas!).  It was not my lucky day and I quickly dropped $100 at the craps table so I decided to get out of there before I spent anymore and, for that matter, I decided it was time to get out of Missouri!  Next stop, Chicago.

fileId:3096224744143257;size:inter;Not exactly the next stop, actually.  From St. Louis to Chicago is a small town called Collinsville, Illinois.  Collinsville is home to the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, so I detoured there so as not to miss this fine specimen of Road Cheese!  It took me a little driving around to find it…I know, you’re thinking, “isn’t it giant?”  I headed the wrong direction first, but finally found my way and did the vacation nod at the Holy Grail of Condiments.  Definitely a highlight on this trip as I was determined to see as many unusual sights as possible!



It was time to get to Chicago.  I was smart and planned my hotel before I left, even calling for a reservations and DIRECTIONS, so I found my way there with no trouble at all and settled in with my laptop to updated the family on what I’d been up to.  Tomorrow, I’d finally get to see the Windy City!

~Find Links to the past articles in this series HERE!


Jennifer St.Antoine, Gather Travel Correspondent 

Jennifer’s column, Road Trippin’ The USA, published every Friday to Gather Essentials: Travel, is a chronicle of her experiences traveling the roads of America.  In addition to regular installments of Jennifer’s eight week adventure across the country, on alternate Fridays Road Trippin’ The USA includes her other experiences on America’s roads, including recommendations and warnings for places to see, stay and eat.

You can find all of Jennifer’s Road Trippin’ the USA articles at or in her group Road Trippin’ The USA.

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