Overdo report

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

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Where I stayed
Days Inn Memphis at Graceland
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sorry about our interlude, but we were without an internet connection. So, you'll find attached several pictures that belong with earlier days, especially those of Neosho because I didn’t have a chance to takes his pictures off his camera. The all-important pictures of the old Ferrante household are thus included here. Also, the pictures of a flattened Joplin, MO.

Another couple of busy days for us. Hannibal, MO was very cute although we got off to kind of a grumpy start. We were a little tired from our driving the previous day. Plus, Hannibal has many tourist traps for Mark Twain tourism and it was confusing how we should proceed. Since we were (as always) pressed for time, the confusion was not a welcome one.

We went to the "Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum" in Hannibal which “was about what I expected” said Mike. There is a purpose for low expectations. It was okay. We liked that the original structures were still standing including (supposedly) Mark Twain’s home, Tom Blankenship’s (Huck Finn’s) home, and Twain’s father’s office as justice of the peace. As the pictures show, the museum really serves to emphasize that reading Mark Twain’s Autobiography is the way to go. He ordered that it not be published for one hundred years after his death so it was only recently released to the public. However, quotes from it are all over the museum and they are all very entertaining. I guess it is very long, though, but I think we should try to get to it. Unfortunately (not alas!), it is packed into one of our moving cubes which is sitting in Brockton, MA at the moment.

Anyway, the entire little downtown area of Hannibal was nice as well. Many original buildings still stand. Java Jive claimed to be the oldest coffee house west of the Mississippi which is a great claim-to-fame. Their coffee was tasty as well. Like much of Missouri that we have seen, Hannibal has shrunk quite a bit from its heyday. It’s sad, but I suppose we’re not used to things in our country growing and shrinking. I imagine in Britain where their manufacturing went overseas literally eons ago, it is easier to accept it as part of 'the system.’ Still, hearing about how it was growing when Twain was growing up and seeing the architecturally cool buildings, it makes you feel a little sentimental (you know for ‘the old days’ of abject poverty and slavery, stuff like that).

We ended up back in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch which just didn’t happen the prior day. St. Louis fell victim to our insane schedule so it looks like we can’t check it off our list. Here’s hoping that Southwest offers a sweet ‘wanna get away’ fare so that we can spend a weekend eating barbeque. The botanical gardens looked impressively large and the science museum seemed intriguing as well. We also missed T.S. Eliot’s birthplace, the world’s largest pencil, the giant shoe made of shoes, and Ulysses S. Grant’s birthplace. Mike says it’s my fault because I had to go to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house. Oh well. I was never going to get another chance to go to Mansfield, MO to see where she wrote the books. It was an okay tradeoff. We also managed to get our oil changed in St. Louis. Jiffy Lube always comes through. My car is much happier.

It was back ‘on the road again’ from St. Louis to the Ozarks! It was a four hour drive to the middle of nowhere. Now, we say this quite a bit. I don’t think we have ever had as much license to say it as now. It was probably two hours of driving before we landed in Van Buren, MO that we didn’t see another state’s license plate (remember we’re not in an overwhelmingly gigantic state and that we had seen them the whole rest of the way).  We also were driving these ridiculously dinky two-lane highways over hill and over dale to get here. It was a nice drive, but I was secretly nervous about our check-in here at the Ozark National Scenic Riverway. I had booked a cabin at the park that is privately run. They only accepted reservations over the phone and I realized at about 1-2 PM on the drive that I didn’t know when check-in really was. So, we got here a little after 6 PM and the key was left for us at the main office (how often do you think that happens nowadays?!).

Our cabin is super cute. A series of them were built here by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30s during the Depression. Actually, several stops on our trip through National Parks have involved the CCC. It’s impressive how much work, and what back-breaking work, they accomplished. Mike said today, they liked to move rocks. It seems true because they are always dredging, quarrying or building something. Some of the cabins have a pretty stone exterior, others, like ours, are shingled. It has a little bedroom, attached bath, living room, makeshift kitchen with hot plate, microwave and mini-fridge, a screened porch and a little picnic table and fire pit outside. All for $65! You really can’t beat it. Everything was also extremely clean which is great. The only drawback was our slightly lumpy bed.

Today, we were kind of slow—comparatively. We took a nice little hike by Big Spring which is shown here in the pictures. It’s so beautiful! The water is a bluey-iridescent which is caused by some sort of minerals in the water (I would say what, but I don’t have an internet connection so I can’t research it). It must come from the limestone that the water cuts through in the hills here. It was a zillion degrees and humid while we were walking though. The forecast was high 70s and it ended up being more like high 80s, early 90s. I know I am out of shape right now, but I was worried that I was losing it when I was so hot. Turns out I was not insane.  We then tried to rent a kayak and float down the adjacent river, Current River. It seems like it would be so much fun! They drive you up the road a piece, dump you in the river, and you float back to where you started. After our hike, I thought it sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s like once Labor Day rolls around here, everything is shut for the season. If we had had an internet connection, we could have searched for some little places to call and see about taking a raft ride, but it was too late in the day and too time-consuming to be wandering around looking for a kayak. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep daydreaming of rolling down the river on a kayak on a hot afternoon.

We played Rummikub this afternoon. Mike wasn’t keen on it when we started, but once he started kicking my ass, he was happy to keep playing. In the Hopewell clan (my mom’s family), Rummikub used to be a big deal. I remember my grandpa playing it with my great uncle, my great aunt and whichever cousins were around. They would play during our annual vacation in Ogunquit, Maine. There would be a good deal of protestation and laughter during play. It is pretty similar to the Rummy card game, but is somehow more fun with tiles instead of cards. I explained to Mike that my mom is like a maniac when she plays. She moves all these tiles around and has the most intense look of concentration. We had fun today, but I don’t think it quite met up with the games entailing more people. I hope we can play Rummikub with the family in the future.

So, after a spectacular few days in Missouri, we’re setting off for the South tomorrow morning. Our first stop is in Little Rock to see the Clinton Library—rock on! Bill Clinton pretty much enabled us to be well-educated (by funding tons of federal student aid) so, we’re fans. Then, it’s over to Memphis for a couple of nights to see (all hail!) Elvis and other musical giants.  The weekend will bring one of our favorite places: New Orleans. We have a reservation at Commander’s Palace for Saturday brunch. It was one of the last reservations available for Saturday. We were lucky we got in at all! Mike’s mom was right, we should have called earlier. At least we haven’t had the brunch yet, though. It should be awesome. 
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