Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thebes and Cape Girardeau

Location: Boomland RV Park; Charleston, Missouri

It was another long haul of about 270 miles. The trip was a little adventurous too. During my walk-around before pulling out of the campground, I noticed Liberty's right rear turn signal light wasn't working. It wasn't super critical so I waited until I got to the current campground to take a look at it. Freedom has two places to plug a trailer into. That helps a lot because the turn signal didn't work in either plug-in location so that probably indicates the problem is with Liberty. I tightened up some of the connections in Liberty's plug but that didn't solve the problem. I'll kick this problem down the road again for the next campground. Also, Liberty has a slow leak in one of her tires around the valve stem. I isolated it with some soapy water. To add even more stress, the Temperature/Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) attachment vibrated itself loose. I passed over some of the worst road so that may have caused it. This has happened before. It will set off a low pressure warning once the tire reaches 50 psi. I was lucky to be within a mile of an exit to a location with a wide open parking lot. I was able to air the tire back up, tighten the TPMS and continue on. Oh, I guess in case someone saw where I aired up the tire, I should mention it was an Adult Store parking lot. I was surprised at the size of the parking lot but it worked out good for me to air up the tire.

It's a plainer campsite compared to the last one.

This is parking lot I used to air up Liberty's tire. I took the picture, with the air compressor in the picture to prove what I was doing there. I didn't even notice the name of the place until I was almost finished airing up the tire. The one car in the picture is the only one there.

 This campground is a no-frill one with full-hookups. I'll be able to empty all of my tanks and give them a good flushing. The 500 miles of sloshing around with the cheap fabric softener should help a lot. Again, something only an RV'er can appreciate. I've stayed here before because it is conveniently located along a couple north-south interstates with easy access. I'll only be here two days which gave me today to do some exploring. 

First up on the exploration list was a small town in Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi River. The name is Thebes. There isn't much in Thebes now a days but at one time it was famous. The thing that made it famous was a man name Dred Scot who spent a few nights in the dungeon of the Thebes Courthouse while he was fighting for his freedom. Anyone my age should have been taught about the Dred Scot decision during our school years. He was a slave who filed a lawsuit asking for his freedom. That suit made it all the way to the Supreme Court where the court ruled against Mr. Scot. The court issued a very long ruling with each Justice having his say for and against the case. The summary was that blacks, free or slave, were not citizens and therefore could not file lawsuits. They also issued a secondary ruling that stated the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional which helped start the Civil War a few years later. The story ends on a good note, although bittersweet. Dred, his wife and children were granted their freedom by their owner years later. However, Dred passed away shortly after getting the freedom he fought so hard to get. Over his lifetime, he and his family had many opportunities to escape to the north and get their freedom in a Free State but did not do so. Dred wanted to do it the legal way or be granted his freedom. He won in the end. 

The other thing that made Thebes somewhat famous is that Abraham Lincoln made a campaign speech at the courthouse. And wouldn't you know it, the courthouse that Abe spoke at and the courthouse dungeon where Dred slept is still standing. You can tour it, but only on Saturdays and Sundays. Wrong day for me again. Even though it was closed, it was a nice visit to a sleepy, historic river front town.

This is the courthouse whose museum is only open on Saturday and Sunday. But, it is still impressive to see it still standing over 150 years later.

This is looking along the side of the courthouse to give perspective to its location on the hill above the river. You can easily imagine riverboats parked along the river in years past. 

The railroad bridge surprised me. I wasn't expecting such an old bridge at this location. After checking, the bridge was built in 1905 which puts it in the first 10 steel bridges to cross the Mississippi River.

I especially liked the arched concrete approach spans. I drove up close to the ones on the Thebes side of the river but had to back out since they were working on the bridge. 

This standing near the bank of the river looking back at the Courthouse. It is not hard to imagine Abe and Dred standing up there admiring the river down below. Who knows what thoughts were going through the minds of each of them. We must remember our history, good and bad.  

The second item on the exploration tour was personal stop. It was seeing the sights that a 16 year old boy saw while driving his Volkswagen everywhere back in the early 1970's. The boy was me and the town is Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Even 50 years later, the memories kept flooding back as I drove around and visited many of the places I had known as a teenager. Just like Thebes, Cape is located on the Mississippi River. I won't go into a lot of my past since I wrote about it in a blog post while I was staying in Cape a several years ago. You can read it here, if you want >>>

I think I'll let that post from 5 years ago stand on its own and just say it was a very nice memory ride today. I spoke to the river and she spoke back.

Cape Girardeau has built a floodwall around most of the city to protect it from floods. They have decorated it with a mural highlighting the significant moments in the history of Cape and the area. Excellent job. 

This is just one of the floodgates that closes during flooding. The high water marks are show on the left. The one I lived through was 1973.

This is the river side of the wall showing the size of the gate. Also notice the railroad crossing. The railroad has a floodgate on each side of town as well. 

The bridge in the background connects Missouri on the right to Illinois on the left.

During certain times of the years, this area is packed with people. Just watching the tow boats going up and down the river. The city should be congratulated for providing such a nice spot.

This is where the river will talk to you now-a-days. 

This is where the river talked to a 16/17 year old boy and helped him plan his future. 

I also drove to New Madrid where a giant earthquake happened a couple hundred years ago. If you have read about, it is worth researching. This post is way too long for me to talk about it. But to spark your interest, the Mississippi River flowed backwards, etc. 

Tomorrow is moving day again. The check-in time at the next campground is 5:00 pm. Of all the 300+ campgrounds I've stayed at, I've never heard of one with a check-in time so late. I called today to verify the time and they said I may be able to get in early if the campers from the night before had left early. I told them not to bother and I would try to time my arrival to around 5'ish. To delay arriving, I've found a tire place locally that can put a new valve stem in Liberty's tire. I bet you thought I forgot about that uh? I also found a local laudromat with a vacant lot next door so I can park Freedom and Liberty. So with only a 150 mile trip tomorrow and an arrival time of 5:00, I plan to be at the tire place around 11 or 12, then go to the laundromat. It will take about 1 1/2 hours to do my clothes so I should be on the road by 2:00 pm. I'm hoping I have an uneventful trip tomorrow.  

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. I was in the Coast Guard up in Chicago & came down for the floods in '93, that was a lot of water! I notice that they had even more in 2010(?).
    It was sad to see then, your pictures show it to a lot better now!

  2. I always like your history lessons Darrell, and since I don't have to pass a test on them later, I'm much more relaxed reading your blog.

    I've heard several excuses as to why someone is parked in an adult book store parking lot, and I must say pumping up a tire is very imaginative.


  3. Glad to see ya back on the road. It has been a long year or so. I enjoy your blog as you are going to places that I haven't been and want to see.

    1. Thanks Larry. I'm always looking for new things too