Wednesday, June 14, 2017

HRPT 2017-Day 5: June 14- Champaign, IL to St. Louis, MO (195.3 miles)

Since this year's Power Tour is kind of a zigzag across the Midwest, we headed back to St. Louis for Day 5.  Added to our group today were Travis in a Holden Ute and Rickie and Derinda in Rickie's Mustang Race Car (it doesn't look racy, but I'm told it is quite fast).
Power Tour version of crop circles. 
These marks mysteriously appeared during the night
Our route today took us through more cornfields (this is a Power Tour standard).  But, we also went through many more small towns than on earlier days.  Several towns had roadside oddities.  As we turned onto Route 51, there was a giant soda jerk holding an ice cream.
Not scary looking at all.

On the way out of a town called Pana, Illinois, there is a giant hand with painted fingernails laying in the grass.  We all got a good look at it because it was right there that we stopped to check out a noise from the front of the Acadian at low speeds.  It ended up just being a noisy control arm bushing, so we pressed on.
Hunting noises. Tour On!!

After Pana, we passed through Ohlman, IL where the locals set up a burnout box at a stop sign and posted a hand painted "Burnout HERE" sign.  Once the smoke cleared, we kept cruising along the route. 
Signs, signs, everywhere signs, blocking up the scenery and burning up tires

The water in the road is not from rain
We passed a Christmas tree farm.

We then passed by a huge barn in a cornfield and saw some cars stopped in front of it.  As we passed I saw the nose of an F-4 Phantom fighter jet poking out.  Tara, Ken, Bryson and I decided to turn around to get a closer look.  It was part of a POW museum and they are restoring it for display.   We talked to the guy who said that government de-militarized the plane by cutting it into 9 pieces in order to ensure it would never fly again. 
Secret Hangar

We took advantage of the photo opportunity and then headed onto our lunch stop-- Weezy's on Old Route 66 in Hamel, IL.  It was a small place covered in "Route-66-abilia."  The fried chicken special was really good, but not as good as the Home Town Café's in Lineville.

On the final stretch to the venue, we skirted some ugly weather that stirred up some wicked dust devils in the cornfield along the highway and buffeted the hell out of the less-than-aerodynamic Acadian.  The storm brought the temperatures down for a little while, at least.
It's a twister! (not quite)
When we reached our destination, Gateway Motorsports Park (technically in Madison, IL), we learned our lesson from last year and instead of following the parking directors into the oval track away from everything, we said we were going drag racing and they promptly pointed us toward the dragstrip and the manufacturer midway.  I grabbed a spot along the oval track grandstands which gave us some shade as well as potential protection from the small rain showers that popped up.
We are on the right path

No drone needed

Manmade, but shade nonetheless
Our friends from Orlando, John and Patty Smith, met up with the Tour at the dragstrip and John didn't waste any time getting his challenger out on the dragstrip.  He ran a 13.4 sec quarter mile. I missed having my Corvette with me as it would have been fun to see how it compared to my passes here before I supercharged it.  I definitely need to get out to the track when I get home.
John Smith's real car is a SuperStock HEMI Tribute
Our hotel is the Drury Plaza at the Arch.  It's the same one we stayed in the last few times the Tour has come to St. Louis.  It's a great location downtown and has a "complimentary" happy hour for guests.  It also has the absolute worst parking garage I've ever been in.  When you go in, you have to go up a 70 degree sloped ramp and then make a blind, sharp right turn at the top.  This year, there was a big truck backed into a spot at the top of the ramp which made the turn even tighter.  The aisles are narrow and the spaces themselves are tight and usually split by large concrete columns.  I really like parking there.

After a few happy hour cocktails and food, Tim, Tim, Tim, Lori, Lori (seriously, we have multiples of each), Ted, Tara and I went across the street to the Gateway Arch.  We had planned to take the ride up to the top. Except for Lori who's afraid of heights.  When we got there, the Arch was under renovations and only one tram was running and it was sold out for the rest of the day.  The museum was closed, too.  Lori promptly claimed we had convinced her to ride up, but, alas she could not because it was sold out.  It's still a cool view from below.

The museum was closed, but I am told Lewis and Clark built this Arch as a way to find their way
back east.

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