the mad rush to missouri

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Jon stalnaker
aka the Studebaker dude

Editor’s Note: This is a new series from Californian transplant Jon Stalnaker, and his attempt to drive his 1950s Bullet Nose Studebaker sedan in St. Louis. Read the first part.

Our story continues with a mad rush to get to Missouri. The plan was to take about three and a half days to travel the roughly 2,000 miles to get to the Studebaker International meet in St. Louis. We had planned to spend more time on the Route 66 return trip, so the drive was more work and less play. While it was still a pleasure to cross seven states to get to Missouri, we had more than one deadline because the competition started in 4 days. Our hospitality hotel reservations have been established, and we would not be refused. The cars were ready, Mel had joined us and we were on our stomachs. The road was calling with Salt Lake City, Utah as the day one goal.

People familiar with the Midwest kept telling me how wet it was going to be this time of year, so I didn’t even bring long pants. I should have known as I was looking at the weather reports and hoping the thunderstorms would have passed before we set off. While I was a little concerned about the tornadoes and the hailstorms that come with them, I really never thought we might experience heavy rain along the way. We had our first rain in Nevada, and it was considerable. Now I didn’t really think the rain would be a problem as I could still wash the car. It was a new rebuild with all new weatherstripping and gaskets so I had no reason to suspect the car was anything but waterproof. The rain subsided until we reached the Utah state border and another downpour. Having suffered a drought in California for the past two years, I didn’t expect much rain.

We drove 683 miles on the first day and stayed overnight at a hotel in Salt Lake City. The second day we started early and headed east to Wyoming. We spent most of the day walking through this state and yes we enjoyed it too. We didn’t know how far we would go and didn’t really have a clear destination goal for the day. After traveling 560 miles, we settled in for the night in Sidney, Nebraska. This being our fifth state, I began to notice that each state had its own unique aspect when we crossed borders. I would find this consistent throughout the excursion across the state.

Our original plan was for us to spend the second night in Wyoming and we had passed it, so our next smooth target of Nebraska City was a little too close for the next stop. We were just going to see how far we could go. It was a bit long to make the whole trip to St Louis so we knew our last segment would be short. We passed through Nebraska and grabbed the southwestern tip of Iowa before reaching Missouri. We were only in Iowa for about 10-15 minutes and the entire time we were on the road we didn’t see any Iowa plates on the cars around us on the road. And we were looking for one. I thought it was rather strange. Oh yeah, and did I also mention that it rained on us in Nebraska and Iowa too?

So now it’s Sunday night, we got to Missouri, but we had the breadth of the state to go. It would be a short trip on Monday morning, so I thought it would make sense to stop at Saint-Joseph for the night. Carlene (being smarter than me) realized that we would be driving through Kansas City during the Monday morning rush hour, so it was an easy decision to drive through Kansas City before stopping. We drove to Blue Springs for the night after another 570 miles of driving. The hotel parking lot was bustling with the hum of cicadas and we took a short walk to stretch our legs after 3 days locked in the car.

In the morning we had breakfast and hit the road for the last 221 mile segment. We arrived at the International Meet before noon and luckily our room was already available. Stay tuned, the real drama is happening in St Louis. Read all about it next time.


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