Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011

Forgotten bits of MO and some more of MO

In Missouri, we were late. We were staying at a BnB and I was nervous about arriving late. I'd gotten it into my head that because they were comp-ing the room, I had to be a super guest. Luckily, nerdiness got the best of us and after Cuba we were Marshfield-bound.
Once we got to Marshfield, however, the town hall was nowhere to be found, which meant that the Hubble replica on it's lawn (in honor of it's Marshfield-born inventor) remained hidden as well.
"We'll just ask someone where it is," Ivo said, confidently, despite the fact that we have only very rarely seen any pedestrians at all since leaving Chicago. (I blame the unseasonable scorching heat.)
As luck would have it, a teenaged girl was emptying her mail box at 9pm on  a Friday night, and we were able to ask the way.
"Do you know where China Gardens is?" She asked. As Ivo said "No" I said "well....." Of course we don't know where it is, but she'd said that it was up the road and how hard can it be to find  a chinese restaurant in Marshfield, Missouri?
She hesitated "We haven't lived here that long, so it's hard to say..." She said and then went on to say "Just take a left down there and it's right by the storm sirens."
"Thanks!" we said and pulled away, realizing only once we were back on the road that we have no idea what a storm siren looks like. Truthfully, any other ethnic food restaurant would have been a better landmark for us.
Thanks to a large gun on the corner by the town hall, we found the Hubble, got back in the car and zoomed on to the BnB, where our room key with detailed instructions awaited us in the mailbox.
The jacuzzi in our room helped our road recovery and the place was really sweet. Unfortunately, our interview with the Missouri Rt 66 historian was cancelled, due to his being out of town. (We'd arranged it through the BnB owner.) Fortunately, we met an unlikely historian on the road.
We'd been determined to stop and get out more today, setting a shorter goal than we'd done the past few days, with the intention of making Baxter Springs KS for the night. Our first proper "should we take a photo? - do you want to get out?" moment was an old kitchy gas station that's no longer in operation, but where owner Gary sells a few Rt66 guide books. We stayed for more than an hour and a half and though Gary tended to repeat himself, he was an amazing wealth of knowledge. A kind-hearted, self-described "hill-billy" he gave us free cokes, took our photos and told us how the road was meant to be enjoyed. I felt so guilty every time I thought "So, guess we'd better be pushing off" because he inevitably was about to start a tangent about how city people rush around.
We recorded him a bit. He has a lovely accent that must reflect his childhood in the Ozark hills ("married at 16 years old. 'Bin married 50 years. Everyone was impressed that she's not even a family member.") He didn't just make fun of himself, however. He spoke of going off to California and "following his" (non-disclosed) "dream". "I just kept hard at work, never looking up at the sky and then one day, I looked up and said 'hey! there's a blue sky up there' and there was a cloud up in that sky and I thought 'I used to make dogs outta them' ya know or men, or shapes or whatever."
Back on the road we had no luck at all finding a decent lunch place and settled for something unsatisfying in Carthidge. (Luckily, a trip to an organic market had provided us with road snacks.)
After entering Kansas and an inpromptu meeting with a parade (Ivo expected the worst when he saw a bunch of cop cars, with lights blazing, blocking an intersection, but we'd just left Joplin, so...) we drove down a major strip until we curved left onto a quieter stretch. There, we found a simple white bridge. Over the main road there was a simple stone barrier, but if one forks a foot to the right and rides the actual RT66 (much of our trip involves riding slowly on a road just north or south of a road everyone else is using) they ride over a large solid white bridge that has a big satisfying arch and takes one over a sluggish muddy river. Having missed the Rt 66 fork and passed over the boring bridge, we parked at the road-side and walked across the white bridge. There, we heard the burp of a bull frog and stood still, looking onto the water. There we saw a swimming turtle and in the tall grasses, some sort of mole or beaver or something snacked on the foliage. It was idyllic.
Now we'e in Baxter Springs, which means that every time Ivo leaves the Inn, he returns with stories of other banks that were robbed and other bandits that were famous in the area. We walked around the town this afternoon and read the yellow plaques that, more often than not, describe that the building that once stood there burned down and was replaced by this brick structure.
We're staying in the Cafe on the Route Inn. It was formerly a bank, once robbed by Jessee James. We're in Cherokee county, folks and we're staying in a former bank. the hotel is as stark as last night's BnB was busy. White walls and bed sheets are where the Walnut St Inn would have put fancy cushions and lace doileys.
Tomorrow - Tulsa and this vegetarian's salvation. Halle-frickin'-luah.

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