Location: Eureka, MO This KOA is 1 mile from Six Flags, yet 30 minutes from Downtown St. Louis. We spent little time other than sleeping here. It is a pretty KOA that even tent campers would enjoy.
Mileage: 10,000.0 exact reading of the odometer as we pulled in front of my sister’s home in KY.
Jr. Ranger Badge #8: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
7 a.m. “I’m SO weary, but I must get up….” I thought after I found my alarm and turned it off. This is the last day of our trip and I had to get up and get us off to St. Louis to avoid long lines at the Arch. We all struggled to cheerfully get into the car but we made it – granola bar in hand- on the road before 8 a.m.
Our last stop was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Here we have come full circle. We began our learning journey on the Mississippi River in Memphis and ended on the same river in St. Louis. Our efforts to get up early paid off with short lines and a quick trip up the arch in the “tram” (or tin can) ride. We looked out over the flooded muddy Mississippi river and the city of St. Louis. Once we were back on the ground the kids were ready to tackle another Junior Ranger Program. This time they had to search the exhibits of the Westward Expansion Museum for the answers to questions about explorers, Indians, farmers and fur traders who made an impact on our country’s expansion.
My highlight was seeing a full Buffalo robe like the one described in a book we had read about Cynthia Ann Parker, a woman who was captured by the Comanche when she was 9 years old. She lived with the Comanche until recaptured by the Texas Rangers. By then she only knew the Comanche ways and never adapted back. (The fictionalized biography we read was, Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker by Carolyn Meyer.)
After taking another Jr. Ranger Pledge and receiving their badges, certificates and patches we were on our way back to the campground to hurriedly pack up one last time.
Within an hour we were over the Mississippi River and back on "our" side of the USA. I at once began to feel at home and on a regular car trip, instead of the big adventure we had been on. Our drive to KY took us through two more states (Illinois and Indiana) without too much notice. Tired from the last few days events we passed the hours fairly quietly. We only stopped for food and gas. The excitement began as we neared the Reiss home with our eyes (except for S’s who was driving) on the odometer – watching to see if we’d hit the 10,000 mile mark.
***The final tally: