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[/IMG]With my wife at work and my son at a birthday party, I had a few hours to spare this Sunday afternoon.

So I thought to take a drive out onto Route 94 leading down into the Missouri River valley and west of St. Louis.

It was warm and clear. Perhaps the last Sunday to be so inclined for a while, so I felt that I should not miss the opportunity.

I piled my camera bag, a couple of off-brand diet colas, a map and reading glasses into the old Corolla. It was about 1:30p.m. The sun was still quite high; enough light for a photograph or two along the way.

I reached Route 94 about half an hour later, joining it from Interstate 64, and headed south. This part of route at least was very familiar – leading past Weldon Springs (site of a large nuclear decontamination project), through Defiance and on past Augusta into less-traveled land.

On route, I stopped at an unfamiliar winery here in the heart of Missouri's Rhineland, the Louis P. Balducci Vineyards. The countryside was especially appealing in this spot, but I stopped into the tasting room for an added bonus and tasted a couple of reds. They were good, but unfortunately too expensive. Looking around at the freshly built tasting room and uniformed staff, I could see that a lot more than just the wine was being factored into the price here. Personally, I prefer my wineries undeveloped and rustic but those days seem long gone now.

I continued on, passing through Dutzow where I photographed this delightful old building, until I reached Route 19, and headed south across the Missouri into the town of Hermann.

A nice town, built up and down the rolling hills of the Missouri River bluffs, but, despite a well preserved historic district, lacking in charm and feel. At least, that's how I see it. I did not linger – besides, I had already driven 100 miles out and needed to make my way back home.

So onto Route 100 to return on the south bank of the river.

Another pretty, winding road, this led me to the town of New Haven. Outside, the usual ugly and characterless strip malls that mar almost every Midwestern town, but here I found a Subway sandwich shop. Walking out with a chicken sandwich, I decided to head down to the New Malden riverside to eat it. I am glad I did.This was a much more attractive riverfront than that of Hermann, simple and well-kept. I stood there awhile, eating my sandwich and enjoying the fading light over the Missouri. My road into town took me past a delightful church, glowing in the last rays of the sun.

That same sun caught me full in the eye as I left the town, turning into a delightful sunset. I stopped by the town water tower and took this last photograph..
Then home as fast as I could, from Route 100 onto Interstate 44 and back into St. Louis. When I got home at about 6 p.m., I found I had driven 200 miles. Not bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon jaunt…