This year, Independence Day fell on a Friday and that meant an extended weekend! We decided that we wanted to explore and take in some new sights so planned a short road trip to our neighbor state Missouri.
Frugal Boy was 100% ready for adventures and mischief!
After a couple of hours on the interstate, it was time to get out and stretch our legs and change a diaper.
We had packed a bunch of snacks for the trip. Our plan to save money was to just buy sandwiches along the way and supplement those sandwiches with all of our snacks. With lunchtime rolling around and our first destination within a couple of miles we stopped at a Jack in the Box drive through to pick up our hot lunch. As I was waiting in the drive through lane I caught a glimpse in the rear view mirror of a woman running past the back of the car. A couple of seconds later, I saw a man run by. What the?! I turned around to see a whole group of joggers making laps around the strip mall parking lot. Maybe it was a 5K race, or perhaps they were just training for the zombie apocalypse.
Waving goodbye to the joggers we headed down the road a little ways to our first stop, Cahokia Mounds Historic Site.
It didn’t take us long to find a nice place to setup our picnic lunch.
The visitors center was quite large and perhaps best of all, it was free admittance!
Cahokia Mounds was a native American settlement between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D. At its peak, it had a population of approximately 20,000. That made it larger than the city of London during the same time period. Cahokia was the trading powerhouse of the Americas with only Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) rivaling it.
The Indians built large earthen mounds to serve as either burial places for distinguished individuals or to elevate leaders living spaces above the commoners.
The VC featured a life sized recreation of what a part of the city may have looked like. Game, such as deer, provided needed protein in addition to the agricultural crop that they harvested.
The largest mound, Monks Mound, was the home of the leader of the city. The head chieftain was supposedly the brother of the Sun god and that of course made him a god himself. In the 1800s Christian monks farmed the terraces of the mound (hence the name). The mound rises a staggering 100 feet above its surroundings, has a footprint of 14 acres, and is the largest prehistoric earthworks in the Americas.
Climbing up the stairs really does feel like you are going into the sky to meet the sun gods brother.
From the top, you can easily see downtown Saint Louis. Frugal Boy’s hat was a bit big on him.
The settlement covered six square miles and included dozens of mounds, wood henge (a calendar of sorts kind of like stone henge), a perimeter stockade, and borrow pits (wetlands). We spent over two hours exploring the grounds and barely even scratched the surface. You could easily spend an entire day at Cahokia Mounds.
Alas, we were still in Illinois and needed to get to our destination, Farmington, Missouri. The rest of our day was fairly uneventful and it wasn’t too long before we were checked into a hotel for the night.
Stay tuned for Day 2 of our adventure.