Show Me Missouri Part 3: Route 66 and Romantic America

Route66MissouriPostcard

ROAD SONGS – My playlist made for the open road

1. Small Town – John Mellencamp

2. Low Rider – War

3. California – Phantom Planet

4. Radar Love – Golden Earring

5. Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (the entire two-disc album)

6. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon

7. America – Simon and Garfunkel

8.  This Is The Day -The The

9. Sweet Thing – Van Morrison

10. All Right Now – Free

11. Down in Mexico – The Coasters (Tarintino soundtrack pick)

12. Comin’ From Tucson – Limbeck

13. Cruisin’ Together – Gwynyth Paltrow and Huey Lewis (guilty pleasure pick)

14. Everybody’s Talking At Me – Harry Nilsson

15. I Go Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline

16. Iko Iko – The Dixie Cups

17. Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man – Johnny Cash and June Carter

18. My Babe – Little Walter

19. Saving Grace – Tom Petty

20. Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root

21. Something Pretty – Patrick Park

22. Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2

23. Take It Easy – The Eagles

24. You’re Gonna Miss Me – The 13th Floor Elevators

15. Subterrannean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

25. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses

26. Sympathy For The Devil – Rolling Stones

Had it been my car – I would have played everyone of these songs and all naysayers would be strapped to the roof. But it never came to that since I left my i-Pod dead on my dresser at home.

AND NOW, BACK TO THE LAST LEG OF THE TRIP…

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I made the mistake of sharing a tent with someone who kept complaining of flu-like symptoms – that would come back to bite me later. In the morning, everyone just wanted to hit the road and disperse. I made it a point to shower in the country bathroom provided below the Garrison’s main office but had to wonder exactly how much cleaner I was than before I’d stepped into that soap-scummy shower with spider webs for curtains. At least I didn’t use the mystery soap in the corner.

Bouse's hug

Cousins

It felt right to be on the road again – but we couldn’t pass through Steelville without making one last small dent in the menu of Bouse’s Ice Cream Food & More. It was 10 in the morning and Joyce met us at the window to hand Monica her ice cream sundae. We took a few moments to take it all in – the town of Steelville, Mo. – the “Home of Hospitality,” the “Floating Capital of Missouri” and apparently “The Population Center of the U.S.” – according to steelville.com.

If it had been OPEN - we would have bought fudge

If if had been OPEN - we would have bought fudge.

Main Street was unreal – complete with one working stop light hung loose on a line, Friday morning traffic of old Ford trucks, antique stores dedicated to selling red Steelville Cardinals  sweatshirts, fanny packs and German steins in the windows. The stretch of sidewalk was spotless and sparkling but the fudge shop was still closed.

Locals kept eyeing us, the outsiders, with our morning ice cream, Devin looking like he’s about to be throw up and Monica sporting a Steelville trucker hat and sweatshirt from the antique store. After Devin got sick behind the general store, we felt it time to leave. Back in the car, we began the trek home to Kansas City from the eastern Missouri wilderness.

Route 66 made its requisite appearance on our way to sit in the World’s Largest Rocking Chair 4 miles west of Cuba, Mo. Somehow we got this idea we could all just sit together – like it was one big rocking couch or something. But its legs were monoliths and the seat portion was taller than the roof of my home – so we stared at for awhile and tried to climb it but failed.

Goliath

Goliath

rocking chair sign

Do you see Devin in the back not feeling well? I do.

rocking chair - wow

We couldn't sit in it - physically

Then we posed to look like we were climbing it for the camera but got distracted by the sign on the rocker informing us the gift shop doubled as a taxidermy studio.

rocking chair - climb

Like monkeys

We ran for it – the Fanning Outpost General Store – a lodge of dark wood and intense looking stuffed animals hanging on the walls or mounted next to the shot glasses and key chains. It definitely had atmosphere.

route 66 merchandiseCopy cat mom and pop shops around America have claimed to be the title holder of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair – Amana, Iowa, Franklin, Ind., Penrose, Colo., Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Lipan, Texas to name a few. But none of these can be called the Route 66 Rocker and none of these are recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records – which makes Fanning Outpost the true blue original World’s Largest Rocking Chair – 42 feet tall in stature. Monica celebrated with another commemorative t-shirt.

Cemetery not photographed to the leftWe rambled through Route 66, passing by an old cemetery that struck me as the coolest place to get buried. Can you imagine spending eternity alongside arguably the most sacred road in America, schmoozing in highway heaven with Hunter S. Thompson and the Hell’s Angels, Jack Kerouac and every trucker and road warrior that ever lived. We kept the windows down all four miles we drove on the decommissioned federal highway, Route 66, a legendary journey that extends 2,400 miles total across eight states.

We were dizzy with road fever. We ate in Jeff City and I dozed off after spying the Missouri State Capital outside my window. Monica and Devin slept in back and Marisa braved the rest in silence until we crossed the Missouri River. I woke up to the Kansas City skyline before me, the river below, and the sun overhead a blinding white.

We had done, seen and tasted Missouri as it unfolded over our three-day wayfaring – it had been the romantic Missouri I had hoped to see – large rolling lands, simple towns styled all-American, tradition, beer, running with the river’s currents, sleeping on its soil and smelling like its forests. I long to return to the road and travel deeper knowing now that I’ll never wholly know this state of mine, but only as I see it out my passenger window or from the seat of a raft – it’s the closest I’ll ever come to Missouri.

country road 3

Country Road

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