Ha. And you thought I went on a trip to Missouri. Well just take a look at that there picture below….proves I’ve been to Brazil!
Okay, so it’s Brazil, Indiana. But why quibble about details? I’ve been to Brazil, right? 🙂 Alright, that bit was free….
What I really did over the weekend was take a road trip to Missouri. An awesome, incredible, amazing, wonderful trip. *clears throat and starts oration*
One Thousand and Three Hundred Ninety-Two windshield-splattered-bug miles later, I, the incorrigibly untiring Farming Gypsy of Indiana, have gone to and returned from the wonderful state of Missouri. Many of you, in your perverted and otherwise confused minds, may conceive in your minds the picture of Missouri being a hot, humid, ticky, chiggery, sales taxy, and extremely rocky state, miles and miles from snow-capped mountains and picturesque sun-baked beaches. However, may I proceed to present you with the hitherto unknown or carefully and persuasively hidden view of Missouri; a state of rolling, tree-covered Ozarkian hills, a state of myriads of exciting rocks lying on the ground waiting for the avid rock hound to exclaim and claim, a state of lakes, rivers, decidious trees, rocky outcrops and cliffs, pines and junipers and evergreen trees, curves and windings in the roads, small, squat, hundred-and-fifty year old stone houses, log cabins, a state free from the restrictions of building code, a state that is truly contagiously gorgeous.
This, my friends, is Missouri, the Show Me State. And it did indeed show me the wonders hidden therein. For once I crossed over the mighty Mississippi River into the beautiful city of St. Louis (see below for a picture of the St. Louis Arch to PROVE that I really WAS there), the terrain changed. No longer was I in the flat expressionless expanses of Indiana and Illinois. No longer was my inner mind haunted by the fact that there were no evergreen trees, nor hills, nor winding roads. My heart, my mind were thrillingly opened to the simple beauty of rural Missouri. And I sighed, exclaimed, laughed, and almost cried. It was beautiful. And I had not seen a hill or road curve or an evergreen tree for over two months.
Although there are hills and trees and curves, it’s a different kind than Oregon’s is. Both are pretty, I can’t really decide which is better. They’re both nice. I think I’ll definitely have to go back to Missouri, if I can, this summer, to explore more. And to get a taste of humidity if I don’t experience it here in Indiana, which I rather think I shall. But anyway, back to the trip.
Friday morning at 3:30 AM on the 3rd of May I arose, groggy and sleepy and not exactly wanting to get up at such an awful hour, and yet filled with that tight sort of eagerness which for me always preceeds the knowledge that ahead of you lies a great adventure; limited only by the days you have free, and the number of gas dollars in your wallet. Quietly I packed up the things I had not loaded in the car the night before, like butter and peanut butter and eggs and slipped out the door into the waiting car. A dark green 1995 Chevy Oldsmobile, it is the property of the Fingerle’s grandparents (for those of you who do not know, the Fingerles are the farm family with whom I am staying). If it sounds like it’s the kind of car that a couple in their 90’s would drive, surprise! It is. I was definitely driving in style. 🙂 Anyway, I loaded the old thing down, climbed into the seat, figured out where the lights were and all that, turned it on, and pulled out of the driveway slightly after 4 AM.
I was off!!!!
Silently we (the car and I) barreled through miles and miles of flat darkness, the car purring in sychronized methodicalness, I humming in contented idleness. Slowly the landscape brightened and the sun came up. The land was flat. Around the time I entered Attica, Indiana, at 6:30 AM, it started raining. It kind of rained lightly off and on until I got maybe halfway through Illinois. From there until I was way out in the countryside past St. Louis, it was torrential rainfall which made driving somewhat nerve-wracking, especially as I neared the city and traffic grew heavier.
Around 9 AM we entered Illinois. Not much difference there. I flew along I-70 as there was not much to see and entered St Louis Missouri around 11 AM. (this does sound excessive but remember that I gained an hour upon leaving Indiana because of the time zone line). Now; you must keep in mind that I am not generally a city-lover. For one thing, they’re too big and too smelly and too loud and too ugly and too liberal. St. Louis probably has all these attributes. But still, I like it. There’s a feel about the city that I like. The skyline is very impressive, and I just think it’s kind of a pretty, nice kind of city. Of course I say this not knowing anything about it. For all I know it could be the worst city to live in. Going through St. Louis was not too bad, barring the rain and the traffic and the stress of making sure I got off on the right on ramp and on the right off ramp and all that. But anyway, I drove through St. Louis and headed on out on I-70.
Through all the rain and traffic, I saw the names of town after town. Finally I realized that I was probably out of St. Louis by now and wondering where I was. It seemed to me I should be on a different highway by now. So I kind of checked the map and saw that perhaps I was on the wrong road. Well that wasn’t so very nice a revelation. So I pulled off the freeway, filled up with gas, ate an orange, and consulted the map. I was on I-70, headed toward Columbia. I wanted to be on Highway 44, headed toward Lebanon. Hmm. Big problem. It was still raining, and it had actually grown quite cold. By now it was around 12 or so, and it was barely 40 degrees. It had been 62 when I left Indiana, and, thinking it would be warm the whole time, I had on nothing but jeans and a T-shirt. I had not brought much in the way of cold-wear, but didn’t think of that at the moment. After hemming and hawwing at the map, I found a route that seemed like it would be a good way to go to where I wanted. It turned out that getting off on the wrong highway out of St. Louis turned out to be a blessing because this way I ended up going through some very beautiful country I would not have otherwise gone through had I gone down 44. So I crossed over the freeway and turned into a little country highway that wound its way through miles and miles of quiet, hilly, green rural area, with the occasional old farmhouse or barn scattered here and there. It was not raining so heavily now, but the temperature dropped a couple more degrees and I opted not to stop by the side of the road now and then and take pictures. I’m a little sorry I didn’t, but on the other hand, it gives me an excuse to go back, and, it WAS cold. So I puttered along through the hills and the countryside, taking in all the beauty and filling my heart with it, praising God for the country He created and the way He touched it with unique beauty. I was thankful that although I had gotten off on the wrong highway without knowing it, He turned it for good so that I could experience beautiful countryside. I wound down through Hermann, MO, a very cute little town right on the banks of the river. I don’t remember the name of the river at the moment, but it was a real cute little town with brick buildings lining both side of the down town area, where I drove through.
Then out into the countryside again, to meander through miles and miles of Ozark hills. It’s such fun to wind down through a little tiny mountain valley, a few farms and houses scattered here and there, cattle grazing contentedly in the pasture, then up and around a curve, topping a hill and seeing yet another vista of rolling hills and trees before you. I passed down through Drake, Owensville, Vienna, Bland, and Brumley, most of them little nothings of cute little towns. Drake was hardly even a wide spot in the road, and the few buildings that were there looked like they’d been settin’ there since 1850 with hardly a change since then.
Once outside Brumley, I arrived at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where I intended to spend the night. Fortunately I arrived there just in time. The guy in the little toll booth was just getting ready to close, but gave me instructions where I could camp, then closed up shop. I’d pay the next morning. I drove down through the campsites and chose one right on the lake’s edge. By now I was tired. It was 2 PM, and I’d been driving for 11 hours straight. I needed a rest, and so did my faithful companion, the Oldsmobile. Its shafts and steering were squeaking a little with weariness, and I could tell it needed a break. So we parked on a little rise over looking the river, there to stay till the following morning.
I may add also that I really traveled in style, as this car had leather seats, cruise control (which is awesome feature across Illinois!), temperature reading, compass, and all that fancy stuff that my truck didn’t have. So it was a good ride.
It was really cold now. 37, 36 degrees, and raining. I could tell the lake was pretty even with this all. Shivering and shaking, my hands freezing cold and red, I managed to unpack my tent and set it up without too much trouble. Then, with most of the afternoon before me, I donned some warmer clothes (all the warm ones I had with me, which was only a shirt, an overshirt and a thin pair of long johns) and took a vigorous hike around the campground. There were several trails through the woods and sometimes showing a view of the lake, and God blessed me by keeping the rain from coming most of the afternoon. I warmed up in warmer clothes and so it was quite a pleasant afternoon hiking around the state park. I even found some neat rocks which I picked up. Lake of the Ozarks is very very pretty. Almost like Detroit Lake or Foster Lake or something, except with deciduous trees instead of firs. And the hills are a bit lower. But I found it very pleasing. Some of the trees were in bloom ( I don’t know what kind they were) and the birds were singing. No one else was around and it was quiet in the woods and along the lake shore.
Hmm. Well long about late afternoon, early evening the sun decided to go to bed. So I thought I might as well too. I’d eaten some cold snacks before hiking, but upon returning decided to go straight to bed while there was still some warmth around. I kind of wouldn’t have minded a good hot dinner but it so happened that the propane stove I’d borrowed needed assembling, which I didn’t know until I needed it, and I didn’t have the tools to assemble it, and on top of that even if I had I didn’t have matches or a lighter to light the stove with. So I went to bed. Without a good hot meal. Without good thick warm clothes since I hadn’t brought any since I thought it was going to be warm since it was warm when I left Indiana. I learned that is a foolish thing to assume and that it would be better to always prepare. Without a sleeping bag or a pillow or a bunch of good thick blankets. It appears that I had forgotten to pack the other quilt and my pillow. So I had nothing but one thin blanket to sleep under. So I bedded down in my tent; hat on to preserve a bit of warmth, socks and shoes on to preserve a bit of warmth, and all the clothes I could muster to preserve a bit of warmth. I tossed the blanket over me and tried to warm up.
And it grew colder and colder and colder.
It got darker and darker.
Then, I heard a noise.
asdfdreoireuwqpocklbncvbngtuewutruewetwtrqerqafdbblnm;lhkjhpuypouit-typot. scritchy scratchy clank claank bonk.
Hmm. What was that? A bear? A moose? A lynx or bobcat or cougar or mountain lion or puma or red wolf or coyote or South African polar bear?
Hmm. It (the noise, that is, not the animal) continued. It was quiet around the campground and there were no other campers near me. It was dark. Cautiously I sat up, quietly. Then I quickly unzipped the tent and poked my head out, hoping it wouldn’t be chawed off by a bear or something in the darkness. It wasn’t.
Instead, in the dim evening light I could see a racoon lollopping off into the darkness, leaving ice packs and cheese scattered behind it. I learned that evening that it is a very foolish thing to leave one’s cooler full of food outside in the middle of a forest. Racoons are smart. Coolers are not.
I zipped the tent back up and lay down. For several minutes I fought with myself, but finally got up and decided it would be best to see how much damage there was, and possibly put the cooler back in the trunk of the car. I’d only taken it out because I figured it would stay colder outside than inside. I hadn’t reckoned on wildlife. Thankfully the only thing that was kind of damaged was one block of cheese. Later I managed to use some of it, just cutting off the dirty parts and the parts that had raccoon prints on it.
I put the stuff back in the cooler and the cooler back in the trunk and myself back in the tent.
And. It got colder and colder and darker and darker.
Thus ends Part I of the Missouri Saga. Check back soon for Part II, or if you are following the blog, you can wait for the automatic email to pop into your inbox.