September 21, 2003

Day 33 - Ozark Mountains

Little House on the Prairie, KS to nearby Cherokee Village, AK, Ozarks.

After fleeing the mosquito's a short drive over to Laura Ingles house the real life "Little House of the Prairie". Closed today so I was the only one there except a resident cat who was very friendly and followed me around while looking at the buildings. The place still feels out in the middle of no where in the middle of open fields. Fed the cat raw milk cheese and we are buddies for life.

--Little House on the Prairie

--The Little House.. and cat on the prairie

--Hitching Post

This movie-clip I made is large (11MB .avi) and uneventful, but if your interested in Little House on the Prairie it shows what the surrounding area looks like.

Headed east on back roads through the prairie following a cold front moving east that has been with me since Oregon.. the same rain in Oregon that shut out the view of Mt.St.Helens turned to snow in the Rockies in Montana is now warm humid rain in Kansas.

--Route 66 Sign

Cross into Missouri into the Ozark mountains. Every region of the country has certain driving habits like Boston drivers and Virgina drivers both seem oblivious to other drivers, except Bostonians drive fast while Virginians drive slow. For some reason Missouri drivers are very aggressive drivers. They tend to drive 1980s beat-up Chevy's, ride your tail weaving back and forth and make dangerous passing maneuvers for no good reason given half the chance. This is not a specific encounter but many over and over while driving through Missouri over the years. I attribute it to being smack in the middle of America neither east, west, north or south there is a schizo feeling about the state as if there are strong internal conflicts of character. Maryland has some of the same issues as do other border states but Missouri has the worst case of identity crisis, perhaps a mirror of a country as a whole.

Headed into Branson near dusk and drive through the middle of downtown. Branson is not well known back East because it would not be a destination the typical liberal educated east coaster, but for the hillbilly god fearing party going person from the Ozarks it must be a slice of heaven. Nestled in the Appalachia-like mountains it is a cross of Las Vegas glitch with Disneyland rides and Nashville entertainment .. all covered in a thick sauce of southern Christan family values and hillbilly culture. I say hillbilly culture because they wear it proudly like the Beverly Hillbilly's. Together it creates a strange gumbo that can left me confused and amazed such a place exists. It is like visiting a foreign country where everyone is American, everything is familiar but disconcertingly off, like in a dream.

Continued on into the night through the Ozarks along a difficult mountain road Route 62 along the northern border of Arkansas, pushing eastward. It would have been better to do this during the day but I needed to make tracks. Twisting mountain roads at night are not easy and can lead to fatigue but I drove until at least midnight. To top it off the storm front unloaded flood like rain including nickle size hail at one point.

Stopped in the town of Cherokee Village and headed up a dirt road into the Mark Twain National Forest looking for a campsite, lots of heavy fog from the weather. Saw a sign for a primitive camp, pulled in and just as I was coming to a stop at the fire circle my rear tire went flat. Incredible timing. Too tired to deal I crawled in back and quickly went to sleep.

Posted by stbalbach at September 21, 2003 01:40 AM