Road trips teach you so much about the country you travel, letting you enjoy the scenery and absorb the flavors of the communities you pass through.  I always think of the first people to explore these areas and what they saw, the thick woods, the flowing rivers, the mountains and plains, pure in their abundance, beautiful in their vistas, frightening in their scope.  What courage, or ignorance, they brought on their journeys.

My recent trip through Missouri was full of summer beauty from the Ozarks to the Mississippi.  Missouri borders my home state of Oklahoma and neighboring Arkansas, so the scenery is familiar to me, but recent rains and the July bounty made it a lush vista to view as we traveled through.

First stop was in Springfield, a wonderful city where I saw this sign that seemed so perfect for the area…DSC_0008…and ate a delicious steakburger and fries in this landmark stop.DSC_0012Leaving the interstates, which is the best way to explore and enjoy, it was mowing time and the hay bales, now round instead of the familiar rectangles, gave a somewhat festive design to fields we passed…DSC_0017…and even the medians.DSC_0033We stopped in Fulton to visit the campus of Westminster College, where two of my children graduated.  The Winston Churchill Memorial, where Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech now is the home of a piece of the Berlin Wall, repurposed into a sculpture by Churchill’s granddaughter and a Christopher Wren designed chapel.  The church bells chimed and I smiled at how that wakes the students across the campus early in the morning.DSC_0020DSC_0022I walked up the hill to the columns which my daughter and son both walked through twice, as they entered as Freshmen and as they graduated, a Westminster tradition.  I’m not sure what it is about columns on Missouri campuses, as there is a similar set on the campus of the University of Missouri, 25 miles away.DSC_0030Heading north to Hannibal, we left the southern Missouri Ozark regions and headed into the agricultural fields nurtured by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  It’s almost harvest time and the corn was high, rippling off into the horizons to the rolling hills beyond.  Soybeans were the other crop we saw bursting in the fields.DSC_0036
DSC_0038In Hannibal, we traveled the Mississippi by riverboat, feeling the pull of the river’s strength and its ability to lull you along on a summer day.  Eagles rested in trees… DSC_0105…and barges were pushed along by trusty boats like the Sir Randall with its two-man crew.DSC_0114Signs of times gone by when the frozen river was cut up and the ice stored in straw until summer when it could be used for ice cream.DSC_0095We left Hannibal for St. Louis, choosing to travel the road along the river.DSC_0172This route took us along the river for beautiful scenic outlooks, starting with Lovers Leap which showed the layers of the bluffs along the river…DSC_0139…and gave us lovely views of the river’s twists and turns.DSC_0162Far below us in our view of the swollen river, we spotted a bit of a town and a cemetery that seems to have survived the rages of the river.DSC_0159The reality of living along the river was apparent when we explored the town of Clarksville…DSC_0182which boasts that you can touch the Mississippi there.  I did put my feet in, but the river was high as evidenced by the sandbagging that lined the streets closest to the water.DSC_0184The richness of the soil was shown as the road took us once again into the rich farmlands with corn stretching as far as we could see.DSC_0166 DSC_0164We came around a bend and spotted this house, deserted and surrounded by corn.DSC_0178A road took us into the cornfield for a closer look at the other side with an overgrown yard of flowers.DSC_0173Across the road was this once beautiful home.DSC_0175I wonder what stories these two places, surrounded by the corn, could tell.DSC_0177We reached St. Louis, where stories of history awaited.DSC_0343On our way home, we stopped by a roadside stand, back in the Ozarks of Missouri and bought some of the summer fare to take home and enjoy a Missouri meal.  We grow all these things in Oklahoma, too, but it was a nice finish to our short trip through Missouri, where we were treated like the neighbors we are.IMG_4985Happy summer travels!DSC_0054