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Middle of MOwhere

by Richie

Arrow Rock, Missouri
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Pretending to be morning people, we exited Lake Rudolf at 7am. There must have been a Hot Rod convention in Evansville, as we saw scores of fly jalopies cruising by.
Past the state line, rolling hills and deciduous trees began to give way to a flat and featureless landscape. Fields of withered soybeans and  parched, stunted corn told the tale of this summer’s drought. In an odd coincidence, we spotted a roadside wildfire just past Burnt Prairie, Illinois.
Approaching St. Louis, a traffic jam over the bridge gave us a good long view of the Arch.
We ran through a surprise storm front with bursts of gusty crosswinds, making for some lively steering. Anxious to get off the road for lunch, Tim was pleading for the next rest area but I pointed the coach to Reifsnider State Forest instead. And it certainly was an off-road experience. We ended up on a wildly steep gravel road, with no opportunity to turn back, and were forced to cross a half- dry rocky creek. I bottomed out the coach coming and going. But we managed to have a lovely picnic once the adrenaline subsided, and I’ve made a mental note that “State Forest” means unpaved roads.
Mid-afternoon we arrived at Arrow Rock to camp for the evening. This historic town was once a bustling riverboat port. Blockades during the Civil War and the advance of western railroads put the town into serious decline. Then, in an unkind final blow, the Missouri River spitefully changed course and left the town a mile from the water and without purpose.
Nowadays Arrow Rock is a sweet little tourist stop. It’s only a couple of streets wide, lined with original stone curbs. The Lyceum auditorium was happily crowded this evening.