Memphis, TN to St. Louis, MO

Day 15   April 1

Memphis, TN to St. Louis, MO

79F in the a.m. Not a cloud in the sky as we left Memphis.  The bike route follows the Greenway, then winds through neighborhoods, past a cypress swamp full of ‘knees’, the root extensions of the trees that some think help the respiration of the tree.

It was on this road that we passed two bikers with flashing red lights on the backs of their bikes.  We thought about stopping to talk to them, but didn’t.  After turning left onto a busier road, we stopped a short ways up so that Mike could take some photos of the cypress swamp. That’s when the 2 bikers caught up with us and Mike flagged them down to talk.   A man and a woman, they were from Memphis and were regular bikers and had even mapped a route south of Memphis earlier in the month.  Ward Archer was the man’s name, but I didn’t get the woman’s.  They were intrigued with our planned Mississippi bike trip, the woman saying several times, “I’d love to do that..” They told us about using to find maps and routes.  Ward also told us they were head to the Shelby Forest General Store.  We didn’t realize our route would take us to the same spot, but it did.

While we stood talking to them, bicycle riders singly and in groups passed on both sides of the highway.  Memphis appeared to be a very bicycle oriented town, at least compared to the other cities we’d visited. 

The Shelby Forest General Store turned out to be an old wooden building on a corner of an intersection. When we drove past it had just been invaded by a horde of motorcyclists. As we slowly turned the corner we saw written on the wall of the store, “World famous cheeseburgers.”  Since it was lunch time we decided to stop.  They also advertised ‘Fried bologna and turkey melts’. 

The inside of the store was filled with people standing in front of the counter; animal trophy heads, antlers and snake skins hung on the walls and were draped over the exposed beams; and behind the counter three women worked feverishly at a grill.  A very loud and talkative man was handling the cash register.  When we checked out to pay, we reminded him that we had ordered ‘sodas’.  “Sodas” he exclaimed. “Where are you from?”  We told him Minnesota and said that we could have said, ‘pop’.  He laughed at that too.  When we asked what they call them ‘down here’.  He said we call everything a “Coke”.  You could order a can of root beer and we’d say ‘Coke’.”  Now it was our turn to laugh, but he joined in. 

One of the women behind the counter said, several times, “Thanks for your patience folks.”  The motorcycle club had arrived en masse and they had 30 orders to fill.  We sat at the counter reading newspapers, while we waited for our world famous cheeseburgers.  They were good ones and the atomosphere/clientele in the store was worth the stop. 

We talked about the heat with the proprietor when we left and he said they’d broken a record yesterday and were due to break one again today.  

The next road we took was two laned, curvy and rural.  Suddenly up ahead on the road we saw an animal trotting towards us.  At first we assumed it was a dog, then we saw that it was all white and I said ‘fox’ (the farm raised kind), but Mike said, “NO. That’s a raccoon” And so it was.  We slowed down, but the raccoon veered into the woods.  Mike jumped out of the car and ran in pursuit with his camera, but the little white bandit disappeared.  Neither one of us has ever seen an albino raccoon. 

We were very appreciative of the MRT signs when they were in place, but we found them missing at some critical junctures, which ended up sending us in circles.  We tried to follow the written directions in the MRT guidebook but they were not always helpful either. 

By 2:15, it was 85F and puffy clouds floated overhead. At 4:15 it had reached 90F.  Mother Nature’s April Fools Joke on us humans. 

We reached St. Louis around 6:30 and drove to our hotel – a Hyatt located just across the street from the Arch.  Our room had a fabulous view looking towards the Arch and the river beyond.  They had designed the hotel so most rooms had this perspective.  Whenever we were in the room, Mike sat in a comfortable chair next to that window and took photos. 

John Oehler, our friend Beth’s brother and one of our Lake Superior Voyaguer Canoe companions had driven over from Cincinnatti, to join us for the evening.  And also so he and Mike could sample bourbons.  This was a shared interest they discovered during the canoe trip.  We were very pleased that he was able to take the time to come over and meet up with us.


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