Travelling miles and miles in a car with a companion who enjoys trivia and musical tidbits just as much as I do is great fun – we’re struck every once in a while by something that starts us humming or singing a song that perfectly fits where we are…such as when we crossed the Missouri River, and “Shenandoah” came to mind. Then there was discovering Daniel Boone’s last home (in a beautiful stretch of land between St. Louis and Jefferson City – he lived within miles of where Lewis & Clark travelled, and there is no record that they ever met), and remembering “he was a man, he was a biiiiig man, with an eye like an eagle and a…..(I’ll bet you can fill in the rest!) “Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come,” and of course, even though we were in a car:
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.
Here’s a link to a wonderful YouTube video of Pete Seeger (at 90!) and Bruce Springsteen at the Lincoln Memorial singing “This Land is Your Land” – if you’ve never heard or seen Pete Seeger, who died earlier this year, please watch!
This map is from the Museum of the Westward Expansion at the St. Louis Arch, and the red line depicting the Lewis & Clark Trail starts in the east in St. Louis, where we really start to parallel the Trail and follow it for a couple of days. We’ll pick it up again later in the trip, after a long detour to Idaho and British Columbia. The “Voyage of Discovery,” commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson was ambitious and extraordinarily successful – they started out in May 1802. Lewis & Clark returned after nearly three years of exploration having lost only one member of the Corps of Discovery, and with massive amounts of information about the vastly expanded country. Having read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose years ago was great preparation for exploring some of the areas in which the Corps of Discovery passed.
Driving through these regions and realizing just what those men and Sacajawea had to endure is my outdoor classroom – truly “learning it all, over again!” (So fitting! That’s the subtitle of my blog: Read. Travel. Learn it all, over again!) We followed the Missouri north and westward, to visit tiny St. Charles, where the journey began. (Some would argue with reason, that the journey began far to the east, where Meriwether Lewis had the keelboat made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t until St. Charles that the two leaders finally joined forces and the expedition began.
Besides generally following the Lewis & Clark Trail, how else are we managing on this trip? By perusing our well-worn edition of “RoadFood,” which has traversed the country now at least three times! It shows just how enduring those classic old-timey restaurants and diners are when our 2005 edition still points us to great spots for a bite to eat. We’ve written something by the listing for each of the many places we’ve stopped, and I love reading notes from other years…I write in my books – you might want to try it! Yep, whether a food guide, a cook book, travel guide, poetry, fiction or history, my books are lined with marginalia – books which someone, sometime, will pick up at a used book sale, and puzzle over, perhaps wondering who wrote the sentences, exclamation marks, and sometimes ever-so slightly critical words scribbled in the margins.
From St. Charles we roughly followed the Missouri and the Corps of Discovery’s route to Jefferson City, where The RoadFood Book directed us to Central Dairy for delicious, and cheap ($2 for an overflowing pint of scoops)ice cream break – the best deal of the trip so far. Then, as CW so delicately puts it, we “beat cheeks” to Kansas City MO. (This phrase apparently refers to a horse’s flanks – contrary to what you may be thinking…)
Kansa City was a great stop, where I was delighted to find “The Roasterie,” (http://www.theroasterie.com/) an amazing coffee roaster/wholesaler/retailer with an airplane and flight theme (check it out!) whilst CW enjoyed a private tour with the Lead Brewer at “Boulevard,” (www.boulevard.com) a major craft brewer – they were within blocks of each other, and we cheerfully split up for a couple of hours to each enjoy our own “brews.” That’s another good tip for long term, close quarters travel – make sure to build in time to pursue independent activities!
So far, no one place has called out to us as a potential landing spot, though some are full of history and a vibrant culture; in fact, crossing Missouri, I had glimpsed a sign for Rosebud, MO, and I longed for a moment, to live in a place called “Rosebud.”