We woke up at the usual time last Monday, February 6th, had a light breakfast and hit the road. The goal for the day was to clear out of Kentucky and make it into Missouri. The weather was a heck of a lot better than it was back home, starting off partly cloudy. The temps would eventually reach the mid-50s.
Before heading west I wanted to show Wife the Depository at Fort Knox, only a few miles up the Dixie Highway to the north. I had driven by it several years ago when I visited the area on business. It’s very near the state highway as it passes through the iconic military base.
It’s a very large building, with all kinds of very visible security measures. But is there really any gold in there? Some folks say there isn’t. Personally, I have no real opinion on the matter. Why do we even need gold since abandoning the gold standard back in the 1970s and converting the dollar into fiat currency?
Heading west directly after seeing the Depository, we were again treated to picturesque farm and ranchland, with many cattle and horses grazing. Traffic was light along US Route 68 westbound; we made good time.
Around lunchtime we found ourselves in the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, a Federal preserve managed by the National Forest Service. We decided to stop and have some lunch, as it was warm enough, especially if you kept in the sunshine. We ate at a picnic area near the Elk & Bison Sanctuary, hoping to get a glimpse of the critters. Sadly, there was a sign posted there saying the herds were unavailable as they were undergoing “maintenance”. More, I did not want to know.
Westward we went, and by mid-afternoon the Illinois state line appeared in the form of the Ohio River. We crossed the Ohio, and then took a short detour to the north to drive through Cairo. In recent years this town has suffered much, and has devolved into a burned and bombed-out hellscape. Driving down the main business route evokes images of war damage- not what you’d expect to happen to a quintessential mid-American river town. It’s very evident that there used to be wealth in Cairo. If you journey inland a couple of blocks there are several streets of formerly stately mansions. Some are still occupied, many are not. Some have burned; others collapsed. I’m not posting any photos. There are plenty of those and videos out there if you want to learn more. It’s a sad and depressing situation.
Heading south out of Cairo it’s not long before the bridge over the Mississippi hoves
into view. But before we went over it, we detoured into Fort Defiance State Park on the left side of US Route 51. The park was empty save for us, so we drove right to land’s end where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi. Lewis and Clark were here with the Corps of Discovery Expedition, moving north on the Mississippi to gain the Missouri River at St. Louis.
Here’s a video that pans from the Mississippi around to the Ohio.
We had hotel reservations across the river in Sikeston, Missouri, so after seeing all there was to see at Fort Defiance we went over the steep, narrow and noisy steel bridge and into Missouri, and the Central Time Zone. Our hotel was not far away, and we arrived there before dark.
While checking in I asked the desk clerk if she had any recommendations for a good place for dinner nearby. Without any hesitation she told us about Lamberts, a very large eatery a half a mile down the road. She said that it was kind of touristy, but the food was good. We decided to check it out.
After settling into the room Wife and I went to Lambert’s- Home of the Throwed Rolls for dinner, and were not disappointed. This restaurant has two huge dining rooms, side-by-side.
The decor reminded me of Cracker Barrel on steroids, crossed with a touch of the old Hilltop Steakhouse that graced US Route 1 in Saugus, Massachusetts for many years. “#43- Six for Silver City!” Fond old memories right there.
Being a Monday night, there was no wait, and only one of the dining rooms was in use. Still, the place was crowded. Wife and I were shown to a booth, and immediately the waitress was there to take our drink orders. I asked her what beers were available, and she gave me a big smile and said: “I could bring you a ROOT beer”. Lambert’s is a FAMILY RESTAURANT, and in this part of the country that roughly translates into no alcohol. I’d forgotten about that!
Wife had blackened chicken, and I a half-rack of baby back ribs. Both were excellent, as were the sides. Other serving staff roamed the floor with “pass-arounds”. These foods included fried okra, fried potatoes and onions, and apple butter. If you wanted to try any, they’d spoon some onto your plate, or in the case of the okra, a paper towel.
As for the “Throwed Rolls”- if the server distributing the hot, sweet bread rolls saw anyone’s hand higher than shoulder level, they took that to mean a roll was needed and they let fly. I saw several Throwed Rolls travel over 50 or 60 feet. The throws were always accurate; the catches, not so much. But it was fun to watch. The entire dinner experience was fun.
Dinner done, we went back to the hotel of the day and called it a night. Tomorrow we hoped to cross some of Missouri and drop down into Arkansas, planning to get to Little Rock by day’s end.
Stay tuned for more- thanks for stopping by!