Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Missouri

The last couple days I have been roaming around the state, visiting friends, seeing things, eating things, unwillingly chasing or being chased by storms, singing under the stars, embracing memories, not standing still, and eating more stuff. Holy cow, why does road tripping make you ravenous? But these last couple days have also been probably some of happiest that I have had since I moved back to the Show Me State. These days and hours and moments allowed me to get outside of my head. I wish that I had some great epiphany on what I am suppose to do with my life, or had that one moment where my life changed, but I didn't. However I feel like I may have gotten a couple inches closer, but I'm definitely not there yet.

 I don't take my vagabond days lightly. I know that at some point they will come to an end and I will have to rejoin the masses and structured society. And in some ways I look forward to that, contributing, being part of something, paying my dues once again, finding a "why" and a "how" to stand still, and oh yeah, a steady source of income never hurts.  My life has always been a game of trial and error.  Maybe that is how life in general works. Sometimes my life plans work and sometimes they don't.  But I have to believe that the "trial" part of the equation, the keep trying, the bouncing back, is worth way more than the "error" part.  I haven't hit the point of no return yet, where all my second chances and nine lives are all up, and that, hopefully, means I am still in the game.  I'm just hoping that the game always, always, includes stopping for milkshakes in the middle of nowhere. 

"You may be lost in more ways than one. But I've a feeling that it's more fun, than knowing exactly where you are." (Passenger/Keep On Walking)

Some little travel notes:
First, before it gets lost in all the words and pictures, a huge thank you to all the friends that joined me at various points on my little travels. You guys are rad.

Second, this is how I "pack":
Cheese, sunglasses, a notebook. Only the necessaries. There is also two apples and 3 chapsticks in there somewhere. By the end of the weekend, the cheese and apples were gone, I lost one of the chapsticks, left my sunglasses in someone's car and ended up with about 6 packets of sweet and sour sauce. 

Down in Dallas County, MO in a little populated area (it's not even a city or town) called Tunas there is a little Mennonite bakery called Ozark Winds Bake Shop. Every time I am down in that part of the state, this teeny tiny bake shop is always on my itinerary. It is not open all the time, and closes when it is sold out, which happens pretty quick, I have yet to get my hands on one of their homemade pretzels.  My little entourage and I stopped by about noon on a Thursday and basically bought what was left of the slim, but oh so delicious, pickings:

Ha Ha Tonka has been on my Missouri bucket list for awhile now, and it can officially be crossed off! Ha Ha Tonka, other than being extremely fun to say, is a state park with ruins of a castle in it. A castle. In Missouri. It was the brain child of wealthy Kansas City businessman, Robert Snyder. He wanted to build a resort to rival the fancy pants ones in Europe. When completed the complex consised of a 3 story castle, a stone stable, nine greenhouses and an eighty foot water tower. Construction started in 1905 and was completed in the 1920's. Sadly, the castle burned down in 1942 and the area became a state park in 1978.

I don't know if you can read the sign but, the path up to the castle is only 521 feet, paved and only an extremely slight incline. Also noted, there are 6 rest areas between here and there. SIX.

It is pretty clear why Mr. Snyder picked this location for his castle, it as has a pretty amazing view of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Another one of my favorite populated areas is Pumpkin Center, it used to be a town, but now it is basically just a road, an intersection, a gas station and an adorable name.

So. When  you see "Middle Earth," clearly labeled on a map, you have to go see it, right? RIGHT. A trail to the mythical Middle Earth, right here in Missouri? Can you beat that, other 49 other states?  I actually have no idea where the trail goes. The second I got out of the car to take the picture, dark clouds advanced and a sudden downpour happened and I had to retreat. Chance? Whatever, I'm blaming Sauron.

Speaking of dark clouds, at least once a day I had to seek shelter from storms. Thank goodness no tornadoes made an appearance, but the dark clouds were menacing and majestic.

I also made a quick trip to Columbia, MO. I used to live in that fine city for about 5 years. I can honestly say it was one of the hardest times in my life, but also a huge turning point in my life.

The city has really changed since I lived there, a lot of my old haunts are gone or changed and I am actually OK with that. It is kind of like a physical reminder that those times, good and bad are in past and gone and cannot be repeated. I have tendency to get stuck in the past and thinking why isn't life like it used to be. But life itself keeps chugging down the road. Change happens, places change, things are knocked down and rebuilt. So sorry folks, no more late nights at the Great Wall. 

And then this happened:
A Batman boat. Or Batboat. I guess the secret that the Dark Knight likes to vacation in Missouri is out.

This also happened:

And last but certainly not least, there was Saturday, a music themed day. I caught up with The Third Man Rolling Record Store (outside of Mills Record Company, a great locally owned record store in the Westport area of Kansas City) and got a special and oh so pretty blue vinyl of Pokey LaFarge's new album, as well as a Shovels and Ropes 7 inch.  I highly recommend anything and everything by both these groups.
Don't worry, you don't have to have a coordinating outfit to shop at the record store.

My days of fun ended in Kansas listening to the Lumineers under a starry sky. Man alive, I love seeing this band, even from a million feet away. I caught them in a smaller venue last year and was blown away by their live show then. I was a little worried that seeing them in such a bigger place and audience would dim the joy and energy of their performance. It didn't one bit.

During "Hey Ho," their most popular song, Wesley, the vocalist, asked the crowd to put down their cell phones and recording devices and just live in the moment. Most of the audience, at least around us, didn't actually follow this request. But we did, and as we turned off our phones and slipped them into our bags, I made a mental note to do this more often. I had been waiting a while for a -summer is here- moment, and when the band played "Big Parade" as their final song, and I clapped my hands raw and threw my head back because I was singing along so loud into the starry night, I felt that summer has indeed arrived.

The Lumineers at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, Bonner Springs, KS, June 1, 2013
I Ain't Nobody's Problem
Flowers in  Your Hair
Hey Ho
Classy Girls
Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan cover)
Dead Sea
Slow It Down
New unnamed song, "Falling"
Charlie Boy
Gun Song
Stubborn Love
Flapper Girl
Morning Song
This Must Be the Place (Talking Heads cover)
Big Parade


  1. Sounds like an amazing/fun trip. Where is that Middle Earth side, can I find it on a map? I would like to go check it out myself. Thanks, Katie, for letting us experience travel through you, you are awesome!

  2. Curse that evil Sauron anyway. I'm pretty sure a fellowship/trek of our own making is in order. Maybe on my way cross country?