Thursday, 10 May 2012

Days 9-11: Missouri & the Ozarks

We left KC on a dreary rainy morning and spent most of the day driving through the Missouri countryside with only turtles crossing the road...
Speed bump, Missouri style
...and cows/cemeteries (we count them for fun) for entertainment. We stopped at Harry S. Trueman Lake for a quick picnic by this mega reservoir (it has 1,000 miles of mostly privately held shoreline). Here we had a chance to see some of the ~10,000 turkey vultures we have seen since Wyoming up a little closer.
Big birds. Big lake.
We passed through the Lake of the Ozarks and a rather not interesting looking tourist trap town called Osage Beach. I'm glad we didn't stay here, as was on an early version of the plan. Betty (our GPS) said we were again expecting a late arrival, so we didn't stay longer than an ice cream.

We drove a really fun road up and down hills through the Ozark forests and got to our campground at Johnson's Shut In's State Park, arriving 2 hrs before Betty said we would. Our plan was to hike a section of the Ozark Trail, climbing to Missouri's highest peak in the process.

But alas, it was not to be. Despite perfect weather, I woke up at 2:30 AM with some kind of nasty virus that thankfully turned out to be a 24 hr one. So I spent most of the day lying around sleeping or feeling miserable while Karen read books, roadmaps, matchbook covers and the instructions for using the car jack. We did get out for two short strolls that both nearly did me in. One was to the "shut ins", which is where this river...
The Black River
... flows through a narrow canyon and over these rocks...
Note the two dudes, centre right, for scale
...creating cool swimming holes, hence being popular with folks from nearby St. Louis in the heat of summer.

The second walk was to where this dam...
What twit builds a reservoir on the TOP of a mountain?
...breeched in 2005, sending 1 BILLION gallons of water through the hole in 12 minutes, and scouring this valley...
Reservoir in the distance
...out of the hillside. Read about it here. Good job it happened in December, because it washed away the campground and took out the park ranger's house. And then flowed down through the swimming hole.

Feeling much better after I slept some 18 hours, we headed down the road through Arkansas to Memphis, arguing with Betty all the way about the fastest route. I swear to goodness she thinks the backroads here have a 30 mph speed limit (it's 55-65, depending on state).

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