Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rural Adventures- Missouri edition

I've been on another 4 state road trip, some of it on the backroads.

Some observations:
About the only thing good about driving across Tennessee is that you can listen to the NASCAR race from one end to the other. That was much appreciated on Sunday.

Illinois ties Indiana for "Most Boring State I've Ever Driven Through."

Most of Missouri is very rural. The entire drive along I-44 you see signs trying to get you to instead drive what used to be historic Route 66. I bit once, to stop for lunch at a place called Missouri Hick Barbecue in Cuba, MO.
I'd been told that Missouri barbecue left much to be desired, and indeed I haven't seen that many BBQ places in the state. This place was pretty decent, though. A variety of meats and a decent selection of homemade sauces that they also sell cheaply by the bottle.

Google Maps sent me on a backroad into Bolivar, highway 32. The highlight of that was driving 15 mph behind a few farm combines. Looks like the communities take pride in their weekend cattle auctions. The best town name was Halfway, MO. Along the road there is actually a Half Way Baptist Church. They're almost Baptist, just haven't made it all the way over yet.

I returned to KY via U.S. 60, an under appreciated road that is about as long as Route 66 and goes all the way through Missouri and Kentucky. It's 4-lane through much of Missouri. I passed some Amish horse & buggies, there are signs all over the road cautioning you about not hitting them. I saw quite a few in Bolivar, as well. I also drove past Laura Ingals Wilder's old homestead where she wrote the Little House on the Prarie books. It's fun to think about how Missouri used to be the frontier.

Speaking of frontiers, I saw many fewer confederate flags in Missouri than I do in Tennessee. In fact, I told someone I lived in East TN and they told me "Wow, they're still fighting the (Civil) War there, aren't they?" "Yes, ma'am" was my (sadly) accurate response.

Worst part of the trip is driving U.S. 60 across the Mississippi River first into Illinois and then into Kentucky. First, you drive across narrow levees and see all the flood devastation around you. Then, the bridge across the river into Illinois is extremely narrow and loaded with 18-wheelers. The 18-wheeler in front of me must have been a rookie because he kept slowing to a crawl to try and avoid hitting the other 18-wheelers coming from the other direction. Trucks pass within inches of each other hundreds of feet above the raging river on this narrow bridge from who-knows-when. That was the scariest part of the journey.

In KY, U.S. 60 is mostly 2-lane. I think I've now driven most of it from the western tip to Lexington. Today I drove through the townships of Wickliffe and Kevil. Wickliffe unfortunately has 18-wheelers roaring down its main street all day, but if you're brave enough there are some Indian mounds dating from 1,000 AD there you can visit.

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