Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cambria to Collinsville, Illinois (St. Louis)

Day 1: May 8, 2010 Depart: 8:15 am Arrive: 8:00 pm Cambrian high winds catapulted the CR-V into action this morning but suffered from road trip apprehension as it hit Ohio. Stronger winds sucked the gas tank dry several times and ignited carpel tunnel syndrome in my right wrist from a near 8 hour white knuckle drive. In my attempt to visit every Starbucks this side of the Mississippi, I found myself at a mall in Indiana. Big mistake. My driving eyes could not adjust to the food court carousel light and worst of all, there was no Starbucks. Instead there were redneck high schoolers squealing, t from the suffocation of their remaining baby fat bursting from their skinny jeans, but with real middle American teenager delight. Bunch of yahoos. Indiana did not have a "Welcome to Indiana" sign, or a "Come Back Soon" sign. Instead I was greeted continually with over 200 enormous jugundous crosses. Even more than West Virginia boasts for sure. With that in mind, I hope I won't have to visit Indiana again.
My "cross" country experience culminated with the "World's Largest Cross" located in Effingham, Illinois. Monumental absurdities. Is this not what the Midwest is supposed to be all about? I have to say that overall I found southern Illinois to be nice, lush. At least above the ground. I could smell the soil in the farm fields from the highway. A tractor plowing to the right kicked up a dirt shit storm that blew across the road like the Dust Bowl. That dirt, it was a foul smell, like a Styrofoam cooler full of night crawlers in the hot sun. But then I finally made it to my cozy Marriott.
After I dropped my junk off in the hotel room, it was time for something to eat. Instead I found myself driving to the Cahokia Mounds. I had learned about these in an archaeology class I took, and a friend had recommended that I check them out. The site is only 3 miles away from my hotel, so why not? As I drove in, there was a small marsh on the left side with a few egrets and herons. To the back of the parking lot was a field with 17 deer feasting, along with a few more egrets. I walked around to the mounds and even crawled up the steep side of one of them. It was amazing, the view was beautiful and it did not take a lot to realize that this place was very special. Certainly not just a bunch of grassy hills. As I wandered, a calm washed over me and I realized that in all of my road delirium, coming here was exactly what I needed to complete my days ramble.
View of Monk's Mound at Cahokia Mounds

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