On day 3, we could not get out of St. Louis fast enough. We tried to visit the Gateway Arch, but we didn’t want to leave our car packed full of luggage in the pay-to-park garage. We tried driving around to the other side of it, but Google kept giving up bad directions. At one point, she wanted us to turn up a street that was so torn up and full of rubble/trash that I had to point out to the Mister that he missed the turn and even then he did not believe me that it was still considered a street. So we learned the best way to see the Gateway Arch is in the rear view mirror.
Our first stop was for some breakfast frozen custard at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. It might be the best thing about St. Louis.Then we hit the road and came across a bunch of awesome, vintage neon motel signs.We stopped at a flea market, I believe it was the Mason-Dixon Line Flea Market. I bought an old, green, glass bottle from a character who showed us his found diamond and his found spoon. The spoon was pretty cool! And then we stopped at the Riverside Wildlife Center. Back when Route 66 was the main artery there were several wildlife centers to stop at for families with kids. So we decided to stop and check it out. The place smells. Like reptile. And meat. It’s so bad. But I sucked it up and luckily, half of the tour is outside. They say that they are an animal refuge center and take in exotic animals that were formerly pets. They had chickens and rabbits that kids had received as Easter presents, but then the chicks and baby bunnies are cute anymore the families get rid of them. We also saw several alligators, goats, tigers, a lion, bobcats, and a wolf. Inside the center we took a tour of their reptile room which houses several snakes, turtles, baby alligators, and caimans. And we got to hold an alligator, too! The Riverside Animal Center is along the way to Meramac Caverns. And you can’t miss Meramac Caverns because they have a million billboards and painted barns alerting you to its location. We didn’t visit the caverns because we had visited Carlsbad Caverns on our trip east, but if we hadn’t just seen a bunch of stalactites and stalagmites, we would have stopped.Next up was a water tower full of bourbon and an awesome motel in Cuba, Missouri. We probably should have stayed the night at the Wagon Wheel Motel instead of stopping in St. Louis, but if we had done that, then we might have missed out on Ted Drewes custard and holding alligators …We then saw the World’s Largest Rocking Chair.We stopped at the Mule Trading Post and saw the old Hillbilly sign. Unfortunately his arms do not windmill anymore.After that was the amazing sign at Totem Pole antiques and we probably should have stopped for dinner at the Sirloin Stockade. The mid-west will put a fiberglass cow or horse on anything!And the drive into Lebanon had several more signs including restaurants, a bowling alley, and an adult superstore.We checked into the Munger Moss Motel and met the owner, Ramona. She is a character. All of the small motel owners are characters. But they are part of the charm of the route. She and the mister discussed healthcare in America and shopping made in America. We stayed in the Route 66 themed room which is decorated with photos of the Munger Moss and other motels along the Mother Road. And the neon is amazing!
The Munger Moss has been put up for sale in the past. Although not still on the market, I think Ramona and her husband Bob would like to retire. The asking price when the motel was on the market was $995,000.
For dinner, we had the choice between BBQ and Applebee’s. And we decided to try Applebee’s. It felt very Friday Night Lights-ish. It was located on the route, and there were locals eating there, so why not. Besides, the BBQ place looked like it had just changed names, and I’m not a fan of trying a restaurant when it has recently changed owners.
Stay: Munger Moss Motel, 1336 Historic U.S. 66, Lebanon, MO 65536, (417) 532-3111