The big advantage, of course, of having no real agenda is the freedom to waste time when it suits your purposes. This morning we decided after breakfast that we hadn’t really seen the Mississippi yet, that brief flyovers were not really what we had in mind. So we drove back over to the Illinois side and made for a little riverbank park near the hamlet of Thebes, a site which we found mostly submerged but which still afforded a great view of 685,000 cubic feet per second of water sliding by. The boys amused themselves for a good while wading around in the slack floodwaters (don’t worry, Mom, we were well back from the open current) until Will took a stumble and drenched himself. Now the memory (odor) of the Big Muddy travels with us as his clothes dry out in the back of the car. All in all we frittered away a good hour or so watching a big barge string labor upstream and countless tree trunks cruise down river.
A wonderful spot to spend half the morning.
The lower edge of Thebes quite underwater . . . notice the homeowner paddling out to his abode.
And then once back across the river in Missouri I gave the boys a choice: we could stay on the Interstate and make good time but not see much or we could stick to smaller roads and see more but have to spend perhaps an extra day getting to the Rockies as a result. To my surprise, they voted me off the Interstate. We drove and drove and drove on tiny little roads, first through rolling farm country and then through what I guess are the Missouri Ozarks, a surprisingly empty quarter of tree-covered crests. Today’s big boredom beater: “Every time we come across cattle, the first person to blurt out “cooos” is the winner.”
In a spot on the map called Bixby, we stopped for lunch at a most charming country general store (in continuous business since 1906), the kind of place you only come across by accident when you are half lost.
The boys ponder their ice cream choices after lunch.
At 5:30 or so we had only made it as far as Columbia in the center of the state, and I got the boys to agree to Interstate cruising for a while before making camp in a motel for the night. By tomorrow night, I’d love to see us make Badlands National Park, but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.