Two-Day Trippin’

Alan Spector is the author of five books and is working on books six and seven. His latest is “Body Not Recovered: A Vietnam War/Protest Movement Novel.” Spector also writes the blog “Retirement According to … Alan Spector.”

By Alan Spector

Do you love to travel?  Explore history?  Find fun new places to eat?  Enjoy a relaxing atmosphere?  Take in a winery or two or more?  Stay in a special B&B?  Relish spectacular views?  What do you love to do and experience?  

This must sound like a commercial.  Well, in fact, it is—a bit.  It’s a commercial for the quantity, quality, and variety of day trips available in and around St. Louis.  And isn’t retirement so much more full and fulfilling if you are doing the things you love to do and are learning new things? 

As but one example about how all of this fits together, Ann and I just returned from a two-day trip to Ste. Genevienve, Missouri.  Here are but a few things we learned and experienced:

  • Ste. Genevieve is the oldest permanent settlement in Missouri and the oldest French settlement west of the Mississippi—French colonial history is as intriguing as the British colonial history up and down the East Coast yet only about an hour from St. Louis.  The comfortably walkable town has a church and homes from the colonial period that can be toured and a quaint and growing history muscum.
  • Nearby Kaskaskia Island (we returned home from Ste. Genevivieve through Illinois) is the only part of Illinois that sits on the west side of the Mississippi.  Extensive flooding in 1881 literally changed the course of the Mississippi, trapping the town and surrounding area across the new channel.  Kaskaskia, which had been flourishing and was the original capital of Illinois, was devastated by those same floods.  
  • The Kaskaskia area also has a Lewis and Clark heritage, houses the “Liberty Bell of the West,” has the remnants of an historic fort, and offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi river.
  • Chester, Illinois, which also claims a Lewis and Clark legacy, is the home of Popeye, the Sailor.  Popeye’s creator, Elzie Segar, who developed the cartoon in the 1920s, was from Chester and purportedly designed his main character based on a local tough guy.

Add to this sightseeing a welcoming B&B, the St. Gemme Bouvais (the French toast is to die for), and fun places to eat, like Stella and Me, Sara’s (a classic old-time ice cream parlor), and The Anvil (don’t miss their onion rings).  OK, I know I’m still sounding like a commercial—it’s an ad for a fun and interesting retirement trip.