On Monday, we drove from Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday (blog post) northeast along I-44 E through Missouri’s rolling hills. These are the kinds of hills where heavily laden trucks crawl up and then race down hills hoping momentum will carry them up the next hill. Driving up and down hills with too many trucks is frustrating. Finding a speed where the fast people will just pass right away is hard. Even harder is finding the slowest speed where the slow uphill drivers won’t keep passing down hill. Passing trucks uphill is easy. Passing trucks downhill is a pain.
On the outskirts of the St. Louis area, when we turned north on I-270, all the hill passing nonsense disappeared. Past the interchange for I-64/US-40 then past the interchange for I-70 is MO-370, a new freeway that creates a shortcut between North County (Ferguson/Florissant and more) and St. Charles. We took MO-370 West across the Missouri River and got off on the first St. Charles exit. We arrived at our next RV park – Sundermeier RV Park.
Linda got us checked in and headed off to our assigned spot Which wasn’t far from the spot we had the last time we stayed in this park – over the 4th of July in 2004. The park hasn’t changed but the surrounding area has dramatically improved.
Since we were going to be staying for four nights, we setup some (but not all) of our dog fences to the side of the truck and camper encircling the picnic table. We put out some chairs and extended the side awning.
In the evening, we met up with family in Old Town St. Charles for dinner at Llywelyn’s Pub on North Main Street. I had their Driscoll Salad which came with balsamic-basil marinated chicken breast, mixed leafy greens, baby kale, fresh strawberries, candied pecans and feta cheese crumbles. On top of all that was a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Super good and definitely worth mentioning.
Tuesday morning, we had business to take care off. In the afternoon, back at Sundermeier, I took the dogs for a walk. The last time I was in this park, Linda and I walked the dogs down the Katy Trail south towards Old Town St. Charles. I found the Sundermeier back gate opening onto North Main Street, the last street before the Missouri River.
The Katy Trail (Missouri State Park) is on old railroad bed and is raised above flood stage. From where I was standing on North Main Street, it looked like a dike. I climbed up the slope and topped the hill onto the trail.
Surprise! In the 14 year since I had been here, someone created a really nice park with restrooms, pavilions, swing sets, basketball hoops, benches, picnic tables and nature trails. I would learn later that there were even more amenities in DuSable Park. The particular section I first landed in is called the French August Regot Area.
I found a nature trail and followed it along the Missouri River. From the river, I got a good look at the railroad and highway bridges next to Sundermeier. The highway bridge (MO-370) is behind and slightly lower than the railroad bridge.
Returning back to the camper, I told Linda about the park I found. After dinner, Linda and I walked the dogs together. We got on the same trail I had taken earlier that day but instead of turning where I did, we continued on along the river. We ran into another part of the park neither of us knew existed. From the area around the boat ramp (Blanchette Landing), we could see the I-70 bridges to the south crossing the river. Amazing views at sunset.
We met a man and dog around the size of our dogs. Since the dogs appeared to want to greet, I asked the man if his dog was friendly. Indeed it was. We talked a bit. He asked if we had been down to the dog park. We hadn’t. He told us the dog park was on the other side (south) of the bridges (highway and railroad). We had wondered about a public dog park. Sundermeier’s park map had an arrow labeled dog park pointing in that general direction but that was all.
Linda and I were careful when walking in this area. There are a number of normal looking people using the park but some sketchy looking people are often loitering. Linda was uncomfortable with the high creep factor of some of the park patrons.
We had the day to ourselves Wednesday. We planned to eat all three of our meals at our campsite and run errands. Before breakfast, we walked the dogs on the Katy trail south under the bridges and found the Ed Bales Area of DuSable Park. First we found the big dog park. It was the biggest dog park I had ever seen.
Continuing south, we found a big and small (mixed) dog park. Next to that gate was the small dog park.
The small dog park was huge. It seemed twice as big as the big dog park. I like the way that the fence is buried into the ground sufficiently to deter diggers like our Benji from tunneling out to freedom. No burs. Nice grass. Places to sit comfortably. Shade shelters and picnic tables included. I wish I had known about this the day I arrived.
Thursday morning, we went grocery shopping. In the afternoon, we made ready to travel by putting everything away on the inside of the rig and disconnecting all of our connections except the electricity. Our plan was to get up at 4:00 AM and be on the road by 5:00.
We had plans Thursday evening to meet up with family to celebrate Linda’s sister’s birthday at The Cheesecake Factory at the Galleria Mall (near I-64 and I-170 interchange). We arrived at the mall late in the afternoon. In Nordstroms, I bought a soft leather reversible belt. After wandering about the mall, Linda and I went over to Cheesecake Factory to wait for the others. The birthday girl made it right on time but the majority of our group was riding together. Their driver got hung up at work and the rest of the gang showed up more than an hour later.
Once everyone had arrived, Cheesecake Factory seated the seven of us. After demolishing several baskets of bread the group was finally ready to order. I ordered Santa Fe Salad, lime-marinated chicken, corn, black beans, shredded cheese, tortilla strips, tomato slices and mixed greens with peanut-cilantro vinaigrette. After all the food arrived, I observed out loud that I had the largest mound of food in the group. It really was a large salad. I ate the whole thing. Since it is that time of year, I ordered the pumpkin cheesecake for desert. The cheesecake came with two huge mounds of whip cream. Whip cream is definitely not on my diet so I offered it to the others. I managed to give it all away. After eating the pumpkin cheesecake, I was more than full, more than satisfied. I think we all over ate.
Feeling both miserable and absolutely marvelous, we all said our goodbyes and got our hugs. Back at the campsite by 9:00 PM, we fed and walked the dogs. Both Linda and I needed some time to further digest our food so we stayed up a bit. Instead of getting out at 5:00 AM as planned, we got out just before 9:00.
About Sundemeier RV Park – I would stay here again. It is in good repair, clean, orderly and the concrete spots are level, nice and wide. It can be crowded and often has rallies staying in the park. I find the location to be particularly good with easy access to parks, restaurants, highways and local attractions. However, visitors should expect the park to be noisy. Noise comes from the railroad tracks, the freeway and the airport. While trains don’t blow their horns, we still heard the trains rumble as they passed by. The highway noise is just that. Neither the trains nor the highway caused me to lose sleep. AC and vent fans are enough to drown out those noises. St. Louis Lambert Airport is another matter. When the weather conditions are right, Sundermeier is under the take-off flight path. Airplanes constantly taking off low and fighting to gain altitude over our camper easily gets past white noise from fans. This only happened one out of four nights and then primarily in the morning after 5:00 AM.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!