Missouri meanderings

Missouri is the Show Me State, so when my wife and I recently visited Kansas City we decided to see what Missouri had to show us.

We pointed our car at Springfield, the third most populous city in Missouri. Upon arriving at our hotel, we were told that our room wouldn’t be ready for several hours. All I can say about this is that my wife is the type of person who believes that if you aren’t early, you’re late.

We asked the clerk if there was anything that one could do in Springfield for a few hours, and she immediately recommended a visit to the Bass Pro Shops.

This sounded as good as anything, so we decided to give it a whirl. The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Ultimate Fishing Boat Outlet And Super-duper Hunting Gear Emporium occupies about 80 acres. Some of that is parking lot, but a good share of it is a ginormous building.

Walking into the store, my nose was instantly drawn to a particular aroma. They had a coffee shop! It had been at least 10 minutes since my last jolt of java, so my wife and I purchased some hot liquid refreshments, sat on a bench and people watched.

We spotted several Exhausted Toddler Parent roadrunners and some prime examples of Fanatic Angler kingfishers. There was also a good number of Please Honey, I Really Need This Boat warblers.

The establishment proved to be as much of a museum as a retail outlet. I viewed numerous epically large game animals that had been stuffed and mounted and placed in epic poses. This included the mythical 30-point buck that was romanticized in the classic hunting tune “Da Turdy Point Buck” by the talented ensemble Bananas At Large.

We walked past a concrete enclosure that contained a small pond and what was, allegedly, a live alligator. I say “allegedly” because the creature didn’t move at all during the several minutes that we observed it. Perhaps dealing with all those allegations had worn out the alligator.

An escalator lofted visitors up to the entrance of an aquarium that boasted penguins as its main attraction. Admission was $42 per head which, with taxes and penguin perusing surcharges, would put a big hole in a Benjamin Franklin. We decided that penguins are cute, but not $100 worth of cute.

The next day we motored southeastward toward Poplar Bluff. The Ozarks rolled past our windows, wooded hills punctuated by small towns and an occasional farmstead. The landscape would sometimes open up to reveal an idyllic emerald valley where cows grazed peacefully in their leisurely, cow-like manner. It looked like heaven on toast.

I’m a farm boy from the prairie, so I couldn’t help but wonder why the flatlands weren’t being farmed. The answer could be seen in the roadcuts, which revealed limestone bedrock covered with a thin veneer of grayish topsoil. A guy would bust his plow if he tried to plow it.

Speaking of mythical creatures, we saw several bumper stickers that featured a bigfoot silhouette. I wasn’t sure what the message might be.

Was the car’s owner proud of his family’s sasquatch?

Or was he an Uber driver who was open to giving rides to bigfoots?

There is certainly plenty of forest where bigfoot could hide. I personally don’t believe in sasquatches, but then again, I have never been subjected to the eerie hoots and yawps that allegedly arise from midnight Missouri woodlands.

I notched a personal “first” during our drive when I espied a deceased armadillo at the roadside. Sadly, my wife wouldn’t let me stop and claim this trophy.

After viewing the solar eclipse at Poplar Bluff — one of the most memorable parts was seeing hundreds of miniature crescent suns projected onto the ground beneath the trees — we decided to head back to Kansas City. We didn’t realize until too late that approximately a million other motorists had the same idea.

We live in a low-population area. Our version of a traffic jam is when there are two cars ahead of us at a stop sign.

After weaving our way out of town, we hit the open road. Things went swimmingly for a few miles, but then traffic ground to a halt. Probably just some minor snag up ahead. Wrong!

The view out our windshield revealed a river of vehicles that stretched as far as the eye could see. This was a “first” that I would rather have missed.

As we crept along — sometimes attaining a heady 15 MPH — I closely watched the roadside for my armadillo.

Alas, he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe a bigfoot beat me to it.

–Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at http://Workman.com and in bookstores nationwide.


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