Christian County, Kentucky, to Hickory County, Missouri
Recently, I took a few days off from the usual humdrum and made a fast trip west to visit my family. I drove to Wheatland, Missouri, and picked up my sister; then she rode along with me to Kingman County, Kansas, where we spent several days visiting with my brother and sister-in-law. Then I took my sister home again, and came back home myself. The entire trip was about 1500 miles.
Here are some of the sights from the first day, as I traveled from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to southwest Missouri.
Much of the land in the Missouri Bootheel was cypress swampland until the 1890s. It was considered a great engineering accomplishment when nearly all the trees were cut and the swamps were drained and converted to farmland. Today, it's a very productive agricultural area, but a rich and complex ecosystem has been lost forever.
Most of the hay harvest this year in southern Missouri and southern Kansas was put into big round bales like these. We did see a few big square bales in Kansas. We speculated that they could be packed closer on a truck than round bales and that they would be more stable during transport.
In a gas station, I saw this stuffed bobcat and bird (I think it's a quail.) I don't think they'd win any taxidermy prizes, but they certainly were attention-grabbing, especially for little children.
The other end of this shop in Van Buren, Missouri, was more modern and less cluttered, but I really liked the look of this end. Van Buren always has something interesting to see. I took a few minutes off to drive around town and look at the Current River.
My next stop was at Winona, where I pulled into a gas station to study the map and plot a route across the Ozarks. I had finished my map reading and I was waiting at the stop sign to get back on Highway 60, when a woman in a Ford Explorer rear-ended my car. She was apologetic, but she didn't explain to me why she did it. My car didn't appear to be damaged, but I got her insurance information anyway. "Just in case," I told her.
I pointed my camera at the road as I went down some of the big hills. Here are two pictures that turned out all right. I'm thankful for Highway 60 which is all four-lane these days, but I always enjoy the point in the journey when I turn northward on a two-lane and head across the Ozarks toward Wheatland. I've seen some great scenery from the two-lanes in the Ozarks.
I usually go through Lebanon, but I decided to take some blacktop county roads (about 50 miles of them) and go through Buffalo instead. (This information is for those who really know their southern Missouri geography.) That's how I happened to pass through Conway, and by the way, it was the first town I'd seen in quite a while.
I finally arrived at my sister's house a little before sunset. When I opened the trunk of my car, I couldn't close it again. Once opened, the two parts of the trunk latch were misaligned and impossible to connect. So I called the woman's insurance company and made a claim that night. (Lesson: Always get the insurance info, even if the car does not appear dented at first glance!)
For the rest of the trip, I had to fasten the trunk with a bungee-cord. We put most of our gear in the back seat because it was more convenient. When I got home again, I took the car to the body shop for an estimate, and the guys there bent it back enough to close it properly. Now, I'm just waiting for the appointment in about a week to get it fixed for good.