In recent years, many drivers leaving St. Joseph for points east — we're thinking primarily Columbia, St. Louis and Chicago — have eschewed the often-harried route along Interstate 29 and Interstate 70 for the more relaxing drive along U.S. 36.
The journey became even more enjoyable in 2010, when the highway was completed as a four-lane road all the way across the state.
Now, just in time for spring, you can take that relaxation a step further.
A new bike route allows riders to trek from St. Joseph to Hannibal on roads along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor. Dave Fiedler, a cyclist from St. Louis, mapped the route with the idea that riders would be on the highway shoulder as little as possible.
"We want to stress the side roads," he said, adding that on the leg from St. Joseph to Cameron, for instance, you're on state routes A, T and N most of the time.
This puts riders closer to places like Osborn and its welcoming, educational Shatto Milk Company — which is part of the plan. "The fun is in getting off the road for a while and seeing things," Fiedler said.
The cyclist worked out the route in cooperation with the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance, a group dedicated to promoting tourism in pointing out the boyhood homes of Mark Twain (in Hannibal), Walt Disney (in Marceline) and J.C. Penney (in Hamilton), along with St. Joseph sites such as the Pony Express Museum.
Beth Carmichael of the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau is a board member of the Heritage Alliance and said members are in the early stages of discussing signage along the route. For maps and more information, visit bikemohwy36.com.
We like many things about this plan: the fact it's designed for families, the focus on historical aspects and the idea that in using existing roads no taxpayer money will be spent on route construction.
In this fast-paced, stressful world, here's something that urges us to slow down and enjoy the ride. That might be the nicest aspect of all.
Copyright St. Joseph News-Press. Distributed by The Associated Press.