16 – ALLIGATOR ON THE ROAD

I’ll back track a little to our Amana visit. The historical background of the group was very interesting, and so were their accomplishments. Besides their ability to build entire towns and craft fine furniture, invention was a major factor in their culture. In the beginning the quest was for an improved cooler, which they produced, and which eventually became Amana appliances, now Whirlpool. And as for the name of the colony, Amana was taken from The Song of Solomon and means “remain true.” When the emigrants moved from Buffalo they had been bidden to name their new village “Bleib Treu,” which is German for “remain true.”

After leaving Amana, en route to our two-night stop near Springfield, Illinois, our group was scheduled to tour the I-80 Truck Museum, stationed at what is supposed to be the largest truck stop on route 80. The museum was normally closed on that particular day but our organizers had arranged for a special showing. It was early morning and we knew it would be cold, but we weren’t quite prepared for the icy, biting wind that greeted us when we exited our motor home to cross over the huge parking lot to the museum.

It’s an interesting and informative place, and the transition from the earliest trucks to what we see on the road today is quite fascinating. As for the title of this blog, that’s a term truckers use for a blown-out tire, and there were plenty of those all along the way on I-80. Trucker language and conversation, as we picked it up on the CB, is colorful and interesting.

We arrived at our destination that afternoon, and since we were in Illinois, Gayle and Steve decided to unhook the Blazer and drive to visit a friend in Cahokia. Gayle had told me that it was practically a suburb of St. Louis, which it is—right across the Mississippi River with a great distant view of the Arch in several places. However, I had envisioned a typical modern-day suburb. True, there’s modern housing there, but Cahokia was founded in 1699 by three missionaries from Quebec, was part of the French and Indian war, and was ceded to Great Britain in 1763. Fearing British occupation, a number of people moved across the river to form the new settlement of St. Louis. Cahokia remained a fairly small town.

Being so near the St. Louis Arch we expressed interest in visiting it but were asked, “Do you want to go the quick way, or the safe way?” So after dinner we opted to return to our RV park near Springfield instead. However, that wasn’t necessarily the safe way either, since, in the rain and dark a truck and car merging apparently didn’t see us and, in Steve’s words, we were almost a “Blazer sandwich.” Fortunately that didn’t happen, and once back we prepared for the next day’s adventures.

Trivia Time: About four miles south of Cahokia, The Church of the Holy Family, built in 1799, is believed to be the oldest church west of the Allegheny Mountains. The church has been in continuous use under French, British, and American rule.

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  1. Sandy A.

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