Route 66 - Day 6 - St. Louis to Lebanon, MO
Google mileage: 163
Actual mileage: 171
Total trip miles: 525
Today has had its ups and downs. It started with good news, the parts for the clutch arrived at 10am this morning. The bad news is that fitting a clutch takes time. The plates have to be whetted before they are assembled, then the clutch has to be sealed and the sealant takes time to dry. This means it's likely to be late in the day by the time we get started. We've been checking regularly and the guys at Moto Europa have been been patient with two very impatient Brits.
Some googling over a breakfast of blue pancakes in a local cafe revealed that the clutch issue is a known problem on the 1050 engines, it sucks that we have got caught out, but at least we are in the right place to get it sorted.
It's now 4pm so we've effectively lost two riding days. Even if we get going this evening we will have to ride on the highway to make up time and the main attraction on the next leg (Meramec Caverns) will most likely be closed :-(.
4:30 pm and no sooner had I written the above paragraph and the bike is ready! We are both extremely relieved. We say our goodbyes, thank the guys (Mark, Dan, Andrew and the team thanks again!) and hit the open road.
We use the freeway rather than the route 66 frontage road to make up some lost time. It's 90 degrees and humid, and even hotter on the highway so we take a break at a Loves truck stop and filling station en route. Filling up both bikes only costs about $25 in the US, that's less than it costs to fill one of our bikes back home. As most US filling stations are pre-pay it took us a few attempts to settle on the right amount.
We are pleased when we make it to Meramec caverns and find that the place is still open for a couple of hours. There are only a few people around and the caves are nice and cool inside which helps us relax after the pace and heat of the highway. A tour is about to start so we jump in line. As with so much of this trip, an hour touring the caves proves to be a delightfully kitsch and fun experience.
After the cavern tour it's back on the highway towards Lebanon, Missouri. After 8 pm it soon gets dark quickly on the highway. Between the speeding trucks and the huge amount of debris on US roads (mostly tyre carcasses every few hundred yards), we are glad when we pull off into the small village of Lebanon.
We get a room in the Munger Moss Motel, a local landmark opened in 1946 which is now run by Ramona Lehman. She is friendly but in a hurry this evening as apparently Mitt Romney is about to be on the TV and Romona says "he's giving us all hope". We decide to skip any political debate and get ourselves checked in and prepare to unload the bikes.
The Munger Moss is a picture perfect 50's style modernist Motel with a great neon sign outside. It's super kitsch, and just the kind of place you might expect Norman Bates to knock on our door at any time. We take some photos of the neon sign, grab a quick bite to eat at the bowling alley next door, then retire to our motel room with some much deserved Coronas.
As we settle in for the night we watch the news coverage of Tropical Storm Irene which is now moving across Missouri after hitting the lower east coast. We hope that it's almost blown itself out and that we just get the rain and not the high winds that the east coast has experienced.
Due to a missed day and half on the road it promises to be a long ride. As the song states, we are "only 24 hours from Tulsa", our destination for tomorrow.