Cairo, Illinois sits at the very bottom of the state; right there at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. I had never been there, but it looked like an interesting place to go.
The town of Fall River is due east from Wichita. The town is not on the main highway, which explains why it hasn't changed much over the years.
If you keep an eye out, you'll see miles and miles of stacked stone fences in eastern Kansas. The amount of labor needed to do this is staggering.
The creeks were all full. Most trees are still bare, but the redbuds are out along with the grasses and flowers.
The town of Saint Paul, Kansas. It was founded as an Indian School, and then (after the Civil War) stayed as a school for the white settlers. I do not know the story of that rather obvious addition to the steeple.
Girard, Kansas has the same layout as county seats everywhere. There's a courthouse in the middle square, and the businesses all surround the courthouse. This is Mom's Kitchen, where I stopped for lunch.
The sign at the door said something about needing to be 21 years old, but I doubt that the rules are enforced too strictly.
That's Earl on the left and Carl on the right. Carl (who is 80 years old and a WW2 veteran) said he often walked over to the Viet Nam veterans memorial next to the courthouse to read the names. He said he often thought about the families of the boys as well as the boys who enlisted with him.
...so I, too, walked over to see the memorial.
I entered Missouri at Lamar (on US-160) and stayed on that highway all across the state.
From Poplar Bluff, Missouri to the Mississippi River, the state is just dead flat. I crossed over to Illinois, and then immediately turned south to the city of Cairo. Cairo has seen better days. This is a photograph of the downtown core area, but much of the city (and it's not a small place) looked pretty much like this. By the way, it's pronounced like Karo Syrup.
Not wanting to stay in Cairo, I dropped down into Kentucky and spent the night in Wickliffe. It was cheap, anyway.
I walked down the street to a diner where the choices were shrimp, catfish and quail. I had the shrimp.
Wickliffe is a county seat (and is also built along the same courthouse principle).
The view south out of town, towards Tennessee.
Things were a bit greener here than in Missouri. This road has been elevated out of the swamps that are on either side. There was a strong musty odor. Not objectionable, just strong.
Still in Kentucky; this is not a prosperous area.
Once in Tennessee, I turned back up into Kentucky at Hickman, and waited for the ferry to take me across into Missouri (keeping track of the borders was not easy).
This is not the ferry (as the sign informs)...
Grain storage along the river.
Eventually, a little line formed.
And, after a wait of 30 minutes, or so, the ferry showed up.
A captain and crew member.
The tug would swing out to change directions. On the return trip it'd push from the other side. The ferry barge never actually turns around, it just shuttles back and forth.
Only $5.00 for motorcycles. You can hardly beat that for a nice cruise on the water. The landing is actually some distance up the river.
The river was flowing faster than I would have thought. We were going upstream and though we seemed to make good progress as measured by the water, we didn't move too quickly when measured by the shore.
The Ohio River is larger than the Mississippi. This crossing is below the point where the two rivers come together (Cairo, remember?), so it's by now a very large river.
This is the road leading north from the landing. I didn't bother checking my maps, and ended up riding several more miles than I really needed.
New Madrid, Missouri. This was the center of the largest earthquake in American history (it happened in 1811). If it ever happens again there will be big trouble (there have been a few changes since then).
The view of the Mississippi River from the levee at New Madrid.
From New Madrid, I dropped down to Arkansas, and then stayed in that state most of the way across. This is Hardy, where I stopped for lunch.
A couple of impressive bridges over a river valley. The highway bridge on the right is for the old highway.
The new highway is visible to the left.
Eureka Springs has become an impossibly busy place. The roads, however, remain wonderful. Actually, to my mind, they're just a little too steep and too twisty to be best for the Moto Guzzi. Mind, I'm not complaining...
The view from the same spot, but looking up the hill. Note that the sign says 15 mph. That's accurate, enough, for cars.
I jogged back north into Missouri, and then headed over to Joplin. At this point, the sun was setting, and I didn't have any new roads to tackle. I was just clicking off the miles to get back to Kansas.
Highway US-400 in the far southeast corner of Kansas.
A nice trip for the weekend, but at just over 1,200 miles, it's probably on the high side for having enough time to stop and take pictures.