Following the Lewis and Clark Trail
Days 4, 5, 6, and 7
From: email@example.com (Michael Sands) Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 07:52:04 -0500 Subject: [NSX] In an NSX, day four
Just when I thought I did not have anything to write home about, it happens! Today was a surprise, a nice one.
I left my grandmother in St Louis, headed for Illinois. Yes, I promised I was not going to cross the Mississippi, but there was a Lewis and Clark point of interest across where the Missouri pours into the Mississippi. So I went to take a look.
There was a Stone Henge affair, with one stone for each state the Lewis and Clark expedition traversed. And it was on the bank of the Mississippi. The slough across from me was not impressive, making me wonder what I am doing here. The water is poluted, and the barges are chugging up and down the Mississippi. I was impressed with the vegetation around, wondering what it would be like to live off the land. I wondered what Lewis and Clark would think of an NSX...
I needed to get back on the Missouri side and so headed for Highway 94, which seemed to follow the river as far as Jefferson City, in the center of the state. This road was meant for sports cars!
It is narrow, barely wide enough for two cars to pass. You have to concentrate if you meet a truck, and stop if you meet farm equipment. All bridges require you to yield to oncomming traffic. But it is flat, smooth and new asphalt. You have to watch for the shoulder, as it is missing in some places. It winds through the river valley, rarely with a view of the river, but up and down, lots of curves, and passing the occasional small town.
I found myself blasting down each short straight, down shifting into the turns, actually cornering, and then shifting up on the next straight. These corners were the first real ones that let me use the full capability of the car. It was great! Yes, it was nice in the long reaches of the West to drive fast on straight roads. But my favorite thing in the whole world is to go around a corner, man and machine in harmony.
There were some crests that were heart stopping. You come to a rise, hold your breath, and drop your stomach, and then continue. The speed limit was 55 mph and you needed to concentrate to keep that speed. The crests were 40 mph at the most, as they were so precepitious, you could not see which direction the road went as they dropped away!
This was really grand touring and it lasted for almost 170 miles. Of course, if I stayed on the Interstate, I could have done the same in 100 miles, and been bored to tears.
The little towns I encountered were immaculately kept, acres of lawns mowed, and little statues in the garden. The one disappointment was the lack of the Missouri. I wanted to see where Lewis and Clark were going! But I got a glimpse, and I stopped and hiked occasionally to see the river. The valley was beautiful, and when I did see the river, it was always magnificent, curving and winding.
Jefferson is the state capital. I am having a nice grain fed Missouri steak at the best family style restauant, Veit's Diamond Restaurant. Of course, the patrons are all talking about crops, hauling, and religion.. And me, I am just playing with my laptop.
I have no plans for tomorrow. Who knows where the winds will blow and where I will be.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Sands) Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 07:52:30 -0500 Subject: [NSX] In an NSX, day five
More of the same! I found more sports car roads and got to drive enthusiastically. I traveled quickly up to Kansas City and then tried to follow the Missouri River again. I followed 45 to St. Joseph, and then 111 to Council Bluffs, where I am now. I covered almost 400 miles, winding around. Could have done the same distance in a little over 300 if I stuck the the Interstate.
I was struck by the differences in traffic between the morning and after lunch. The farmers seem to conduct business in the morning, leaving the roads clear for me in the afternoon. Nice of them. I again got to travel quickly and along on the secondary roads all afternoon. Fun!
Now for a couple of insights. I suddenly realized there were few sports cars on the road during the entire trip! I saw the Camero (sports car?) with the Nevada Open Road Challenge flash on the side in Nevada. But then I needed to wait for a Kansas thunderstorm to see a lone MGA, with the top down, cruising in the opposite direction. Yesterday, leaving St. Louis, I saw a Alfa Spyder. And today I saw a 911 Porsche. Where are you guys?! Are you hiding? This car was meant to drive. Get out there.
Last night, after writing my last posting, I went to wash the car. Remember, it was coated with tar, road dirt, constuction dust, and thunderstorm goop. I stopped at one of the best spray washes I have ever used. Pressure was high, water clean, soapy water soapy, and the waxy stuff actually worked. They even had demineralized water for the final rinse! And it was the turn around point for the street cruizing crowd...
Twenty cars must have stopped and asked me what it was! Most were the pick-me-up cowboys, but some were urbanites. And all were surprised when I told them it was a Honda. (My wife gets so frustrated with me when I tell them it is a Honda instead of an Acura. She thinks I am putting on aires. Now, Harry, if you could just package up all the right parts, I could do the conversion. The surprise came when two people asked me where I got the body kit to convert it! I almost died laughing!
And that brings me to my final point. We were talking about back lash from people envious of our expensive toys. People who deliberately hurt our cars because they are expensive and desirable. Most of the people I have met here do not even know what it is and do not even think about destorying it because they are curious more than envious. It was refreshing.
I was thinking about the differences between the way I am traveling now and when I first started. Before I was covering 1000 miles, taking 16 hours. I was not even tired. Now I am covering a lot less and having just as much fun. Corners versus speed.
Finally, a note on comfort. How do you place your hands and arms when you are traveling for an hour or so? I put my left elbow on the window sill, and my right elbow on the arm rest. The left arm rest is too low and far away from the steering wheel. I find both elbows getting sore. Then I engage the cruise control (assuming a straight road) and rest my elbows on the insides of my legs. I was thinking about getting a pad for my left elbow. ( I drive with the wheel all the way in, far away from me, and the tilt all the way down. Arms out racing...)
Tomorrow it is Nebraska or Iowa, and looking at the wastelands of the Dakotas. I have Montana to look forward to!
From: email@example.com (Michael Sands) Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 09:16:39 -0500 Subject: [NSX] In an NSX, days six and seven
Zilch. I spend lots of time traveling slightly above the speed limit, trying to catch a look at the Missouri. No exciting grand touring, and I cheated as I by passed North Dakota. I spent the night at Pierre, South Dakota, pronounced Pier! Terrible French....
(The head waters of the Missouri. This is where the Jefferson, Galatin, and Madison come together.)
I am now in Billings, Montana, land of no speed limits. Warren, you can drive faster than 85 mph, as most of the locals do. I was as I encountered three patrol cars in the median, with no ill effects. I will stop at the local office and find out what prudent means regarding the speed limit.
So I my trip now extends over 4000 miles and I am still having fun. Tomorrow it is exploring and a dinner in Missoula. Perhaps I will extend my stay in this state if the driving continues to be fun.
- days 1, 2, 3 (Sunnyvale, California to St. Louis, Missouri)
- this chapter
- days 8, 9, 10 (Missoula, Montana to Spokane, Washington)
- days 11, 12, and home (Spokane to Portland, and the unpublished finale)
Date: 29 Oct 1997 14:31:14 GMT From: "Sperry, James E" <CCMAIL.JSPERRY@RANCH.STATE.ND.US> Subject: Lewis and Clark Trail
While looking for Lewis and Clark sites I ran across your trip account and your Sands of Time Museum. I am sorry you chose to miss North Dakota. Lewis and Clark spent the longest time of their trip here in North Dakota. You missed the North Dakota Heritage Center, some terrific historic sites, beautiful scenery and great roads. I hope you can make the trip sometime in the future. Meanwhile check our our state home page at http://www.state.nd.us which links to the tourism page and our state historical society site at http://www.state.nd.us/hist
With best regards.
James E. Sperry, Superintendent, State Historical Society of North Dakota.