Monday, July 29, 2013

St. Charles, MO

Day 72: Monday, July 29, 2013
Klondike State Park to St. Charles: 31 miles

This is my last day on the Katy Trail. It goes another 40 miles or so east, to Machens, but St. Charles is the end of the line for me. St. Louis is very accessible from St. Charles, and that is my destination tomorrow.

Not only is this my last day on the Katy Trail: it's my last day on the bike before the end of the journey. Approaching a large urban area, it seemed like there were fewer places to explore, and people to meet, than when I was out in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps that was only because I was ready to be done with the trip and move on to the next adventure: my high school reunion.

Shortly after leaving Klondike State Park, I biked past a farm that was now a failed tourist attraction. At one point, Daniel Boone's family had lived on the property. The granddaughter of the more recent farmer, in an effort to preserve the farm and its legacy, had tried to turn it into a destination for tourists. It didn't work.

abandoned farm
This tourist attraction failed to attract the tourists.

sign at abandoned farm
There just wasn't enough here to attract them.

Trappers and traders were navigating the Missouri long before Lewis and Clark made their epic journey in 1804-1806. (Historical markers along the length of the Katy Trail tell the Lewis and Clark story.) The city of St. Charles played an important role in the region's early trade. Today, the historical section of St. Charles is quite the tourist spot. Many of its brick and stone buildings date to the 1830s.

Old St. Charles
This view of Old St. Charles
bears some resemblance to New Orleans' French Quarter.

Old St. Charles
The other side of the street reminds me of Colonial Williamsburg.

The Katy Trail passes through Frontier Park, just across Riverside Drive from Old St. Charles. The Katy St. Charles depot, restored inside and out, is festooned with flowers.

St. Charles depot
I promise this is the last train-related photo.

I stopped for a delightful meal in the Bike Stop Cafe, across the street from the depot, then wandered around the shops in the old section.

Bike Stop Cafe
The Bike Stop Cafe is just behind Old St. Charles's main street.

lunch at Bike Stop Cafe
The sandwiches at the Bike Stop Cafe are tasty and healthful.

The rest of St. Charles is sprawling and not very inviting. There's a huge casino to attract the tourists, and a lot of urban junk. I found a not-so-cheap cheap motel, grabbed supper at Hardee's, and planned tomorrow's trip into St. Louis before hitting the sack.

Lewis and Clark statue
I've been reading historical signs about Lewis and Clark
ever since Day 1 in Astoria.

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