Mad In Pursuit Notebook

Day 23: Wichita Falls TX - Joplin MO

30 Oct 2008 --Joplin, Missouri. Arrived here with a fresh appreciation of my native state and a bottle of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine (which was the best I could do this morning at the Wichita Falls TX convenience store – $21.50 for a tank of gas and a bottle of wine – is it suddenly 1960 again???).

We didn’t waste much time in Oklahoma - bulleted across on I-44 (which is a toll road!). Oklahoma has that wide-open-spaces feel but way more trees and rolling hills than we expected. (Jim was stationed for a summer at Fort Sill but didn’t remember much about the landscape.) I still think of Oklahoma as a “dust bowl” but I heard that after the dust storms, the ruined land was partially reclaimed by massive tree planting. And yet… the autumn mood still matched those old Woodie Guthrie dustbowl ballads better than the soundtrack of “Oklahoma!”

As for the new appreciation of Missouri: the Santa Fe Trail has been a recurring theme in our “Plains” trip. The link between Missouri and Santa Fe is engraved in the rutted wagon paths of history. “Missourians” (the foremost being Kit Carson) were always out front in the most daring of explorations. I’ve been reading “Blood and Thunder” by Hampton Sides (“the epic story of Kit Carson and the conquest of the American West”) – a complex history, without a doubt – not just about the good guys vs the bad guys.