Homer's Travels: Route 66 & California - Missouri

Monday, December 12, 2011

Route 66 & California - Missouri

We left Val-E-Vue and headed to Camdenton where we stopped to souvenir shop.  Not finding everything we wanted (I was looking for a Lake of the Ozarks T-Shirt) we headed to the source of the lake, Bagnell dam.  While we said we wouldn't stop at fast food along the route, I did stop at a McDonald's for a plate of hotcakes.  Since we were technically off the route (Camdenton is about twenty miles off Route 66) this was technically not a violation of the no fast food pledge ... and that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

We made it out to the dam and shopped some of the stores around the dam.  I found a couple of cool T-Shirts and I also managed to take pictures of two more giants.  Here's one:

"What, me worry?"
Back to Camdenton and then to Ha Ha Tonka state park south of town.  I was surprised my parents never took me here ... but they may have and I just don't remember (Mom, you can clear up that one).  The park features forests, caves, glades, and miles of hiking trails but the main attraction are the ruins of Snyder's Castle.  The home, built in the early twentieth century, was going to be a private retreat for a wealthy Kansas City Businessman.  He ended up dying before it was finished.  His children finished the project and it served as a hotel until it burned in a fire in 1942.  The ruins are pretty cool and reminded me a lot of Knapp's Castle near Santa Barbara, CA.

Ha Ha Tonka "Castle"
Pictures of the Lake of the Ozark  part of our trip can be found in my 2011-07 Route 66 - Lake Of The Ozarks - Ha Ha Tonka Google Photos album.

Back in the car we rejoined Route 66 and drove through some beautiful forested scenery.  We reached the town of Marshfield, MO, hometown to Edwin Hubble, namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope.  There was supposed to be a model of the telescope in the town square.  We could not find the town square.  Being the guy I am, I refused to stop to ask for directions and, after driving around town for too long, I just left town.  This did not make the Wife very happy (my lack of willingness to ask questions is a major irritant to the Wife) and the car was a little quiet for the next twenty-something miles.  To make it worse we were in Marshfield on the day of the last Shuttle launch.  It would have been a nice tribute to the end of the shuttle era to see the Hubble replica ... if I hadn't been so pigheaded.

 Forty-some quiet minutes later we arrived in Springfield, MO.  I have many memories of Springfield.  Springfield had the closest shopping mall to where we lived.  Christmas shopping was done in Springfield ... a very important fact for a kid like me.  I remember piling in the car or pickup, (My brother and I would be in the back under the camper shell sitting on an old bus seat.  The truck was black with a white stripe and we all called it the Skunk.) heading to Springfield, and just wandering around the stores.

In Springfield we also broke the silence and started looking for a place to eat, settling on a Steak & Shake with the word "TAKHOMASAK" painted on several sides of the place.  Being a lover of ice cream, I am a little embarrassed to say that I had my first shake here.  Yes, it took 48 years for me to have my first shake (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavored).  When I was a kid one of my many eccentric food weirdnesses was not liking soft melted ice cream (soft serve was fine).  I wasn't fond of the "chocolate soup" so I think a shake never appealed to me.  My tastes have changed a lot over the years and I am glad to say that I liked my shake and the accompanying burger.

Out of Springfield the route diverges from I-44 and takes you through beautiful country landscapes and little towns.  In the small town of Halltown, MO we stopped at the Whitehall Mercantile, a small antique/junk store.  We looked around - I don't remember buying anything - and we checked out the guestbook.  Just about all of the restaurants and small stores we stopped at along the route had a guestbook.  The Whitehall Mercantile book, a typical one, amazed me.  It was full of people from all over the world.  It reminded me of the albergue guest books.  There seemed to be more European names than American.  A lot of Norwegians.  I guess if you want to see typical America then driving Route 66 is a great way to do that.

We got back in the car and started to back up and we heard a terrible screech coming from the front-passenger side wheel.  It only happened when we made a turn and went away when we drove straight but when it went off it sounded like our wheel was going to fall off or like we were dragging some metal on the ground.  It persisted as we made our way down the route.  I was thinking bad bearings or something.  I was also hoping it would just go away.  After making a stop to take pictures of the "Crap Duster", we bypassed a part of the route to speed our arrival to Joplin.

"Crap Duster"
We stopped at a gas station and asked for directions to the nearest Honda dealer.  We drove north and the world changed around us.  We went from a typical large town to a devastated war zone.  This spring a tornado ripped through Joplin killing 159.  The destruction we drove through was total but the signs of people rebuilding were everywhere as well.

We reached the Honda dealership and were lucky enough to get there before the last mechanic had left for the day (We were also lucky it had not been damaged by the tornado).  I drove the mechanic around the parking lot ... screeching all the way.  It took less than twenty minutes to fix.  It turned out a small rock had got stuck in the brake mechanism and it had fallen out as soon as he took off the wheel.  We weren't even charged anything.  The Wife and I were both relieved.

We found a hotel and checked in.  We asked the desk clerk about any locally owned restaurants that he could recommend.  He said he once knew of some places but after the tornado "They aren't here anymore." We ended up eating at a steak house that was a local chain (I think we ate at one in Nebraska during our Sandhill Crane viewing).

Joplin turned out to be a sobering end to our driving day.  I have added these and other pictures to my 2011-07 Route 66 Roadtrip Google Photos album.

Approximate distance driven this leg: 232 miles.


  1. State Park looks like a beautiful place. Wanna go take a walk?

    I love these tacky giants


  2. Gv: I've never hiked there. I would love to hike it some time. The giants are cool in a weird sort of way.

  3. Nice! I love that the Crap Duster is in John Deer colors. I wonder if there's relation there.

    First shake?! Congrats! Shakes always taste good with classic American Diner food. Mmmm diner food. I think the Giant in this post is kinda creeeepy. :)