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In April 2005, my wife and I set out from central North Carolina, two 67-year-olds in a 2000 Buick, bound for Arizona, armed with what the poet Donald Hall calls “a pleasure of place,” and disposed to enjoy what lay between here and there just as much as what we found at our destination, to go places we had not gone and see things we had not seen. Part 1 gave an overview of the entire 5,000 mile trip, Part 2 covered the first half of the journey, from southeast to southwest, and this final installment covers the journey eastward through Nebraska, Missouri and Kentucky.
“There was nothing but the land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.” – Willa Cather
The cattle drives
of the Great Western Trail ended up at the railhead in
The cattle drives of the Great Western Trail ended up at the railhead in
At Gothenburg the
first Pony Express Station is a small museum in a city park, reached
through a pleasant residential section, a memento of a short but
important chapter in the opening of the West. There is a sod house
museum, not yet open for the season, that appears to be about
sod houses but not, as far as we can see, an authentic sod house itself.
I-80 follows the
In places that are
new to us we always try to find one museum that offers a considered
presentation of the essence or genius of a place. The Stuhr does this
admirably. There are any number of museums in
We are delighted to
find the Missouri River Lewis & Clark Interpretative Trails and
Center on summer hours and open at
Sunday. This new facility is very
education and kid-oriented, with a special interest in natural history,
the flora and fauna identified by Lewis & Clark. One especially nice
touch for seniors: laminated cards illustrating plant life have bar
codes which, when scanned, project in bright, large print on a
back-lighted monitor. I don’t know if this was the intent, but it is a
great service for the many senior tourists with partial or impaired
vision, a lesson for the museum world in general.
We loved the river
view, the keelboat, the animal exhibits, complete with sound effects,
and we kept wishing that our grandchildren were with us. We found a few
educational gifts for them in a bookstore which was several cuts above
the average park site souvenir shop.
We cross the
The Lewis &
Clark expedition spent the night of
The Lewis & Clark expedition spent the night of
Back on I-29 to
Back on I-29 to
We arrive in
Way up-river from New Orleans
There is lots to do
South of Hannibal
on Missouri Route 79—the Great River Road—views of the Mississippi
which were thrilling for people whose experience of the river was in the
state of Louisiana. There one drives along the river road but does not
see the river for the levee, large ships going by ominously overhead. We
check out a couple of river towns Jensen had mentioned.
We return to U.S.
61 by county roads, skirt
enjoy a tour of five wineries in the area. With one modern motel and any
number of B&B’s, Ste. Genevieve would be a great overnight stop.
Just south is St.
Mary, Mo., where we spend some time at the enormous (77,000 square feet)
St. Mary Antique Mall, located in an old wallet factory and reached by
way of two unlikely-looking residential streets. We had not designed our
trip as an antiquing junket, but I hate to pass up a chance to add to my
collection of old postcards. Travelers from the east will find a lot of
big malls like this one in the
We cross back over
the Mississippi at Chester, Ill., home of the creator of Popeye, and
make a short northerly detour to see the Menard House, a French Colonial
structure that looks like it belongs somewhere below Baton Rouge. More
nice river views south of
A rainy day, the
first of the trip, does not mar a visit to the austere beauty of the
Shaker museum at South Union, Ky. The original intent of the Shakers was
probably not to leave behind stunning tourist venues, but they are not
to be missed as you travel near the six major sites, four in the
Northeast and two in
Rain continues along the
We pass through Cumberland Gap, going
the opposite direction from the route of our ancestors in the 1780s,
across the mountains of east Tennessee and western North Carolina, and
back along I-40 to our starting point. Cars from
Robert Demaree is a retired school
administrator, poet and essayist whose collection of poems, Fathers
and Teachers, will be published June 2007 by
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