Back on the road again, right where I belong!
This time I was up at 5 AM in preparation to knock out another batch of passport locations! On the road by 6, the first stop was Finger Lakes State Park, a park known for off-road trails mainly for dirt bikes and ATVs as well as mountain bikes. Arriving just before 8 AM, I had time to look around and see what has changed since my last visit. Like many other parks in the state, Finger Lakes now offers kayaking via boat renting which is fantastic news! Owning my own kayak, while so many of my friends do not, it makes it easy to get them to participate.
Next on the trek was Boone's Lick State Historic Site. Arriving around 9 AM, I was a bit surprised I wasn't the only one at the park at such an early hour. Even more surprising, the gate to the unstaffed park was still locked... The other visitors caught outside, waiting, hopped out and stopped to chat with me while we waited. Soon after we were joined by a neighboring farmer who happened to know the superintended of the park responsible for opening the gate (usually at 9 on the dot). I hung around with this group of locals enjoying the conversation that covered topics from a cow that continued to jump the fence of a nearby farm to a local restaurant, formerly owned by "Poodle" and his "old lady", that had the greatest food (as long as Poodle and his old lady were in a good mood of course). After 30 minutes of waiting, the gate still locked, everyone departed, each heading in a different direction, me on to the next destination of Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site.
Here I found the Sappington family burial ground. The Sappington family features a prominent area doctor and two former Missouri governors, one of which was a strong supporter of the Confederacy beginning his term as governor when the Civil War began and was driven from the capital. Following the visit to Sappington Cemetery, I made my way back to Arrow Rock State Historic Site, a location I just missed on the part 3 trip. It worked out better this way as Arrow Rock was the staffed location in charge of stamping the passport book for Boone's Lick SHS and Sappington Cemetery SHS. After a tour of the museum to refresh my memory, I headed on down the road!
Next stop on the tour of central Missouri was Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site, a beautiful 31 room house built atop a bluff now overlooking interstate 70. I certainly wouldn't mind a house like that! Of course, I could do without the view of the interstate but still, it's stunning! From Bothwell Lodge SHS, I backtracked and made my next stop at Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site which is the final resting place of another former Missouri governor as well as the founder of Missouri's Jewell college named after William Jewell.
From Jewell Cemetery it was a short hop to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park which I remembered from a previous visit where I took my first mountain biking trip that lead me across a mild stream! Needless to say, it became an instant favorite!
It was here though that my trip took an unexpected turn, a turn that threatened the overall success of the trip... I found the park office to obtain my stamp and, after a quick hike to the Rock Bridge and back, I learned that, in addition to Jewell Cemetery, I would also obtain the stamp to Clark's Hill/Norton State Historic Site here rather than the relatively closer State Museum and Jefferson Landing State Historic Site. It became a welcomed challenge when I learned the park attendant would not grant me the stamp prior to visiting the park though that meant I had to reach the unstaffed location and make it back to Rock Bridge before the attendant left at 4:30-ish so that I may receive my stamp while still leaving enough time to get back again to Jefferson Landing SHS (which I would have to bypass in the meantime). Challenge accepted and accomplished! It was a close call, one I wish was not forced upon me as I would have liked to spend a bit more time at Clark's Hill/Norton SHS, which offered a great view of the state capital, Jefferson City, from across the river, but it was an excellent chance to face an unexpected hiccup and see how well I could handle it!
After the "Rock Bridge passed Jefferson Landing to Clark's Hill back passed Jefferson Landing to Rock Bridge" trek, it was finally time to hit the Capitol and collect the final stamp for the day! It was nice to walk around the Capitol as I had not done so for quite a few years. It was now 5 PM and the Capitol had just closed and I was ready to head back home!
Heading home I decided to test my math skills and took a gamble on the, roughly, ½ tank of fuel I had remaining. Noting that ½ a tank turned out to hold about 12 gallons when fueling earlier in the day, I determined I would have just enough to making it the 120 miles back home given my current running fuel economy estimate of around 13 MPG. I felt confident in my calculations and so I made it a straight shot determined not to stop until I made it to the gas station back home! 2 hours of driving and 2 hours of walking around a car show outside of town for a total of 4 hours later, I stopped at the gas station nearest to home and found to have a mere 3 gallons left in the tank (estimate based on a 26 gallon tank)! Not bad on the gamble! It's very helpful to be able to make determinations like this in case you are many miles from a fueling station and aren't completely sure whether you can make it. If nothing else, it can certainly direct your style of driving over the length of road you're about to set out on!
Completing this trip today added 9 more parks to my list bringing the running total to 36 of 88!
Span of 1 day; Approximately 544 miles; Approximately 39.1 gallons of gas; Approximate average MPG 13.9 (facing strong winds from time to time while out and about)