American Skid Marks
Setting out on a great American motorcycle roadtrip.

Kansas City to St Louis

Entering Kansas City Sign

Crossing Into Missouri

I gotta tell you, either I didn’t spend enough time in KC, or I didn’t go to the right places, but Kansas City completely failed to make an impression on me. It’s not that the place is bad, it’s just kinda missing. You know, I gripe about the soullessness of suburbs a lot. KC had the same kind of malign innocuousness to it. The one exception is the area surrounding and directly north of University of Missouri Kansas City. There is a cool sculpture park and numerous water features sprinkled on a giant green lawn. It’s here that the famous giant shuttlecock sculptures live.

View From Museum of Art

View From Museum of Art Steps

Giant Shuttlecock

Huge Cock

Fountain in KC

Fountain in KC

Sculpture and Skyline

Skyline Looking East From Sculpture Park

Wanting to avoid the interstate, I left town on highway 24. An unfortunate mistake that took me through an hour of stoplight studded sprawl heading east. The road eventually turned pastoral and green, and far more enjoyable. At some point, I don’t even remember where, I cut over to I-75 and followed it as far as Columbia. There, I diverted south toward Jefferson City. Just outside Jefferson I headed east on the 94 along the Missouri River.

Farmland Off Highway 24

Corn Field Off Highway 24

This was a long but gorgeous road. You’re almost never within sight of the river itself, but the road is flanked on one side by big green trees and floodplain farms on the other.  It was along this stretch of road that I hit a bird … with my shoulder … at about 70. This was no tiny sparrow either, I would estimate that it was about the size of a pigeon, but I didn’t get a good look at it in the split second before impact, nor did I go back to try to find the assailants corpse. It didn’t hurt so much as it startled the fuck out of me. Had I had the bad fortune of making contact with the bird With. My. Face. things could have been much worse. As it was, I found myself giggling, somewhat hysterically, about the whole thing a few minutes later. I did, however, ride with my visor down for the next hour or so.

Farmland Off Highway 94

Floodplain Farmland Off Highway94

Every once in a while a single event can capture the cultural divide between you and the locals in a microsecond. As I was breathing in the air through this stretch of road, happily following the curves in the road I saw a young kid walking down the side of the road. He was wearing cut-off jeans, a white tank-top shirt and a knit beanie. I’m notoriously bad at estimating the age of children, but I’d guess he was eleven or twelve, skinny, darkly tanned, with deep blue eyes and his furrowed brows gave him an angry faced look. Slung across his arms, held the way you’d carry a pile of firewood, was a large hunting rifle with a scope. If you had stood the gun on end, it would have rivaled him in height. Granted, I don’t have allot of exposure to firearms and so I’m a bit skittish around them anyway. However, as I watched a 6th grader in flip flops awkwardly toting what may have been a loaded rifle with the barrel swinging carelessly out into traffic made me utter an uncontrolled “What The Fuck”? into my helmet. This is a big and varied country indeed.

Nearing St. Louis the hills became taller and windier. There are bends in the road there that sharply crest a hill while curving. I slowed down and took it slow. There is a saying among motorcyclists, “Ride the road you see.” Stated in somewhat stuffier terms you could say, “Ride within your sight distance.” Really, what it means is that you should never, ever, make assumptions about the road ahead of you. What does the road do after that curve? Does it straighten out, like all of the other times up until now? Or does the curve tighten up, forcing you to lean your bike down hard to keep from rolling into the trees? Along the eastern portion of this ride, I kept having to repeat to myself, “Ride the road you see dude”. Some of these roads crest tall pointy hills and make it impossible to see more than twenty feet ahead. And sure enough, over a couple of these crests I found that what I expected to be a straight road, would suddenly curve sharply to the left or right sending my sphincter into fear induced spasms. Had I not been riding conservatively I would have drifted wide more than once.

I rode into St. Louis late, near 9 pm. I checked into a hostel in the Soulard neighborhood and went in search of a drink and a bite. As luck would have it, I stumbled into a local bar and was invited to join a group of revelers who were celebrating the birthday of, Mike, one of the local bartenders. On an empty stomach the beers I was drinking were knocking me out and “Mexican Mike” insisted that I go get some food around the corner at his place. Mike fed me, Angie kept buying me beers and the whole group provided great company late into the night. I lacked the fortitude to keep going when they departed for yet another bar, opting instead to crash and get started early the next day. I wish a hearty hello to Mike, Angie, Janice, The Dude Who Hopefully Slept With Janice That Night, The Dude With Grey Cruiser Motorcycle, Cute Girl, Cute Girl’s Boyfriend and Mike’s Neighbor.  Hopefully, I haven’t left anyone out ;). Truly though, you all made my first night in St. Louis wonderful and memorable. And, contrary to expectations, I did not wake up with any stranger’s genitals in my mouth. Cheers and I hope to see you on my way back though later in the summer!

As silly as it seems, when I saw fireflies here I squealed on the inside like a little girl. Perhaps I squealed out loud. I’ve not seen fireflies in years, they always captivate me set my mind silent for a few minutes. I’m glad we don’t have them where I live, I’d hate for that wonder to wear off.

I’m off my bike tomorrow, I’ll be wandering around St. Louis and taking in the sights. It’s about time, my ass needs a break.


One Response to “Kansas City to St Louis”

  1. Hahahahaha. Best post yet.

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