Monday, October 6, 2008

Show Me... The Show-Me State!

It was not difficult for us to find the city of St. Louis, MO. From Springfield, IL we simply aimed the bus south and nudged it westward until we ran into a bulge in the mighty Mississippi. From St. Louis we headed west, traversing the entire state. From the banks of the muddy Miss to the sand bars of the shallow Missouri, we have a lot of sights to show you. This is, after all, the Show-Me State.

Show Me... The Gateway Arch!

Officially known as the Jefferson National Westward Expansion Memorial* (no kidding), this stainless steel marvel dominates the city’s skyline despite the disrespectful crowd of nearby office towers. It is a must-see, upclose from the outside…

And even closer from within…

One of a kind monuments are one thing, but what about the citizens who live under its shadow? What about their neighborhoods?

Show Me… the spirit of St. Louis!

At its heart, St. Louis is a compact collection of neighborhoods that live in easy harmony. Though today St. Louis is a bit frayed around the collar, this big, hard-working city feels like a small town. That is, if your small town is filled with self-proclaimed zombie hunters...

...balloon races...

... and a classic Italian-American neighborhood, complete with bocce ball courts, old-world bakeries, and fantastic mom-n-pop restaurants nestled among the cozy homes that crowd the streets.12 the hillNo one leaves St. Louis without cruising old Route 66. And so we did. And quickly we found ourselves in the rolling farm country of central Missouri.

Show Me… The hinterlands!

The Missouri back country life is as slow and deliberate as the farmers who drive its roads. Of course, not all Missouri farm towns are hives of free-wheeling commerce. And that's just the way they like it.

Show me… Diane’s ancestral homeland!

Diane's grandfather, grandmother and father were all born at the far western edge of Missouri, in Butler. Back in the 1930s, in a fit of gold fever the family packed up and moved west to Oregon, and they didn't go back. It's not a bad place to visit, though in that indefatigable pioneering spirit it is a good place to be from.

After a bit of hunting around, we found what remains of Diane's family in Butler. She doesn't know this branch of her family, but at least she now knows where the roots are buried. 2223
Show me… Kansas City, home of the world’s best barbecue!

We had no choice but to eat the whole thing. It's that good. It's so good in fact that a certain John McCain and Sara Palin recently had a lunch date there. We missed them, but we didn’t miss their messy photo-op.

Show me… The actual gateway to the West!

Welcome to Westport, MO (now a part of Kansas City). This town, along with Independence, MO was one of the key jumping off points for white pioneers from 1836 through the Gold Rush and a bit beyond. Keep in mind that 150 years ago, crossing this river meant leaving “The States” behind. Crossing this river meant that all laws suddenly ceased to apply and all rules immediately fell away. It is here where civilization abruptly ends and the wilderness begins.
It goes without saying that we intend to cross this very river and enter this wilderness. Check back soon. We'll let you know how it goes.

* Founded by French fur trappers in 1764, St. Louis was, for its first 100 years, a prosperous outpost of “civilization” on the frontier to the Wild West. It was the starting point for Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, whose spirit of exploration is with us to this day.


  1. hey mike and diane, love the photos you post!
    i wanted to say thanks for all of your advice yesterday, your adventures have really inspired me to do this road trip again, but better!
    i hope we can keep in touch!
    casey thomas (grand teton national park)

  2. Hey Casey,

    It was great to meet you. Thanks again for the lift!

    Best of luck in California. We also hope to keep in touch.

    Mike and Diane