Our intent was to follow the Avenue of the Saints from SAINT Louis to SAINT Paul. Ruth and I mostly succeeded, leaving the first Saint in Missouri on July 15. If we continued on the Avenue, we would drive 563 miles of 4 lane highway to the 2nd Saint in Minnesota in 2 days. Was it 4-lane? Not all the way. Was it worth it? One must decide for oneself. Was it beautiful? Yes, in a Midwest US kind of way. When I returned to OR-WA, however, I ran into a friend who moved to the Northwest long before I did. Ernie had just returned from visiting friends and family in Pontiac, IL, so we chatted about our trips. He told me that as a much younger man he was in Portland when he had a life-changing thought. I am surrounded by natural beauty here no matter which direction I go in, so why am I returning to Illinois? He didn’t. Instead he ignored tsunami and earthquake warnings, married, put down roots, and now contents himself with annual visits to The Midwest. Will I travel the Avenue of the Saints again? Only if I have to.
The Avenue of the Saints was scheduled for completion in 2008. Is it? Not quite. Is anyone doing anything about this? Not to my knowledge. There are no updates on the internet. The best source of information, which I’m still reluctant to use, is Wikipedia. It has lots of dry facts about the Avenue but no recent updates.
In Missouri, the Avenue follows old US Highway 61 all the way to inconsequential Wayland, the end of MO. It’s consistently 4 lane and seems like an Interstate. The only town of any size we skirted was Hannibal.
In Iowa we followed 218 all the way to Floyd. The Avenue of the Saints in Iowa is 282 miles long. As in Missouri, there were many Saint signs like the one above to sight. We went through Iowa City, where we spent a nostalgic night, passed Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls, where we got lost. We rejoined 218 north when we found it, and only stopped in Nashua to see The Little Brown Church in the Vale and the lake created by damming the Cedar River.
From Floyd to Austin, MN we were on 2-lane highway. This is the still incomplete part of the Avenue if you’re desiring 4 lanes. The towns we passed through were typical of the Midwest. In Austin we visited the Spam Museum, and I’ve been defending this stop ever since. We traveled about 20 miles on I-90 to connect to I-35, which took us to the Twin Cities.
Travel goal accomplished.