Truckin' through Missouri

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Where I stayed
Holiday Inn Quincy East
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Missouri
Monday, September 24, 2012

We arrived quite late last night up here in Quincy, IL which is just over the border from Mark Twain's birthplace in Hannibal, MO. Our day was a little bit crazy yesterday. We started out in Joplin and took some pictures of the tornado damage which wiped out entire blocks of buildings. It's hard to imagine the impact of 130-something people dying in this fairly small community. I reminded myself of a story from that day when I read the Wikipedia entry. A bunch of people had been working at a fast food restaurant when the tornado struck. The manager, a middle-aged gentleman, herded everyone into a giant freezer, but, lacking anything to keep the door secure, he tied a bungee around the handle and gripped the other end. He managed to save the lives of everyone in the freezer (twelve people, I want to say), but he got sucked up into the tornado. Horrible, huh? People always manage to do both the most inspiring and horrific things for and to each other. 

From Joplin, we made our way over to Neosho. It's funny how Joplin is small, but has a little downtown and then there's just nothing between it and Neosho. Neosho is interesting because although it's not a large community (7,000 we think), the people are pretty packed in. We took pictures of 826 Flower Box Lane for the Ferrante clan. We also wandered over to the town square which was very cute, but very quiet on a Sunday morning. I felt very unchurched. 

Having completed our photo ops in Neosho, we stopped at several attractions. The closest one was the George Washington Carver National Memorial. It's in Diamond. It was a lot bigger than we anticipated and it helped to make our day very long. Mike was very excited when he saw the museum and footpath. I think he just loves the unexpected. Anyway, George Washington Carver's life was worth learning about. Essentially, he was a highly-successful agricultural scientist and educator who was the first African American to graduate from his college. Perhaps not unusually, he was born into slavery, one of only three slaves (his parents included) owned by the Carvers. It's very different from those large plantations in the South. It's hard wrap your head around the idea that a couple would buy two other people and, judging from the size and success of the farm, work alongside them! Demonstrating the oddity of the situation, when George's parents died, the Carvers' actually raised George and his brother. Now, details about what this meant were limited in the museum, but they did mention that they played with the Carvers' nephews and that they were encouraged to be educated. At this point, after the Civil War, they would have been (technically) free so. .. Anyway, it was fascinating and difficult to conceive of this situation. George went onto work with Book T Washington and to encourage the agricultural education of lots of poor (especially black) farmers. Plus, I believe he was a prolific researcher. I was very interested in this because I wrote my dissertation on farming.

We then went to Laura Ingalls Wilder's house which is in a random out of the way locale in Missouri. It was worthwhile if only for the elderly tour guide's awesome accent, which we presume is Missouri. It was something out of Andy Griffith. Y'all come back now, ya hear? I don't think I have time to post Mike's pictures right now so I'll leave that to the imagination for the moment.

Then we went to an old stagecoach stop (pic later). Not worth it! And, on to the town of Cuba which has put up a series of murals on their old route 66 to try to revive business, etc (pics also later). On the way to Cuba, we found the "world's largest rocking chair"! Mike didn't really get how giant it was until we pulled up. I said, did you see it? (He was driving.) And, when I pointed it out, he was like "whoa!" You'll see why in the picture. As you can tell, I was lazy about pictures yesterday. So, Mike has all of the good ones. 

Gosh, I was not too happy when I realized that we were an hour and a half from Saint Louis at this point. From Saint Louis to Hannibal was about 2.5 hours. So, we ate dinner in Saint Louis at about 7:30 and only got to our hotel at 10:30-10:45 last night. Ouch!

Well, I have to sign off because Mike is itching to get our day started at the Mark Twain Museum.   


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