Leaving Denver, I drove through Kansas, where the temperature reached 100°.
Nearing the Colorado-Kansas border, I had switched off the major highway onto a smaller road that ran parallel, hoping to find it easier to pull over and take pictures at the state line. However, there was no welcome sign to take a picture of! Thinking that maybe I was on too small of a road, I parked, and walked on a bridge across I-70 in hopes of finding a “Welcome to Kansas” sign along the shoulder of I-70. But there was none there either. They did have a sign saying “Leaving Colorful Colorado” along 70, but none welcoming me to the new state I was now in. This was the closest, a sign promoting crass commercialism:
Dejected, I walked back across the highway, this time across the lanes of traffic — which was light enough to allow me to cross without feeling like a frog in a video game. While Kansas thus joins the list of un-welcoming states, with Illinois, Iowa, and Oregon, I did enjoy their unique shape for their state route signs: the sunflower!
Crossing into the state of Missouri,
I stopped in Kansas City at the American Jazz Museum.
The museum is located in the 18th and Vine district, where in the 1920s-40s you could hear jazz music playing in clubs twenty-four hours a day.
The Blue Room is a part of the museum, while also still serving as an active jazz club.
The museum focuses on four famous jazz musicians: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker. Parker is the only one of those four from Kansas City — born in Kansas City, Kansas, but raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Count Basie is another famous Kansas City jazz musician, but the museum didn’t talk much about him.
Heading into St. Louis at the other edge of the state of Missouri, I visited the Gateway Arch there and its Museum of Westward Expansion. Here’s the first view I had of the arch, walking through the city:
Closer up, here is the arch rising above me in the morning light:
After riding a tram up to the top, I could see much of the city and river from 630 feet high!
The arch had a much smaller viewing area than the Space Needle (the windows too were smaller; you can see the edges in some of the above photos). But it was a view from higher up, more than 100 feet above the Needle’s viewing platform.
The museum was interesting. I learned a lot from both exhibits and a movie about Lewis and Clark, whose paths I must have crossed several times along my trip. There was also a video which I did not see, about the construction of the arch. Here is a recreation of the final moments in that construction:
Leaving the arch, I walked all the way across the Mississippi River on the Eads Bridge, the longest arch bridge in the world when it was first built.
One interesting fact about the bridge, that I just learned by reading the article about it linked above, is that an elephant was led across it upon completion to prove that it was safe. Cool!
Here is the state line between Missouri and Illinois, halfway across the bridge and river:
Backing up a bit (and off to one side), you can see the two state names more clearly, with the Martin Luther King Bridge in the background:
Near the middle, I had been told I had to spit into the river, so I did.
Looking back at St. Louis from the Illinois side of the bridge, the city and arch looked nice together:
After walking back into St. Louis, I passed City Hall on my drive through and out of the city:
By the way, how about that earthquake today in Baltimore! Magnitude 5.8; epicenter in Virginia. The strongest I’ve ever felt; it was felt all the way north to Boston and Toronto as well. We (teachers and school staff only, no students until next week) evacuated the building and then were dismissed for the day. An auspicious start to the school year?–our students’ brilliant new engineering innovations will shake the foundations of society’s accepted ideas?