In early March I took an exhilarating yet exhausting drive across the Ozarks. Though Springfield and Salem lie nearly on the same latitude in Missouri, they’re about 75+ miles apart.
The preferred routes on divided highways chosen by Google clocked in at about two and a half hours. The southern route followed US 60 to Cabool then north on US 63 to Dent County. Going north on I-44 to Rolla, MO, Rt. 72 goes south to Salem. I’ve done these two highways to excess.
“Why not take the scenic route direct on local roads,” I thought. “it’s fewer miles and about the same time!”
Luckily I managed to crawl out of the sack before 6 a.m. Cathy helped me make breakfast, so I was on my way just at sunrise. Luckily, light traffic.
I moseyed up to Marshfield, then galloped due east to Grovespring and Manes, but got lost finding Long Valley Road on a short cut to Success. Fortunately, the roads were clear to Licking. And the sun rose enough so I was no longer squinting.
My old friend Deloris Grey Wood had a dozen members of the local historical society ready to hear some stories at 10 a.m. on this sunny Saturday.
I was too tired from three hours of driving to do any storytelling. I told about the old tie hackers and read Doyle Faubus’ railroad tie story from Ozark Voices. People seemed to like it. Most everyone bought a copy of the book; good news considering the long drive.
After lunch with Deloris, local forester Tod Kinder, and his wife Rose, I had to see Tod’s sawmill. He’s producing a variety of hardwood boards, much of it using logs rescued from the local landfill. Impressive!
Driving back to Springfield, I detoured only once, to see the confluence of the forks of the Roubidoux Creek. This is one of those amazing little natural wonders that dot the Zarks.
When I reached Grovespring I was getting sleepy. How about a Mountain Dew? Haven’t had one in years. Luckily the WoW Café was open.
Out on the porch a gent about my age and his wife were taking in the shade. I remarked the day had been almost warm.
“I was lucky to grow up on a farm. My mom said we could go barefoot whenever we wanted when it was warm,” he said.
“A lot of kids had to wait to Memorial Day I’ve heard,” I commented.
“We couldn’t go swimming in the creek till after Memorial Day,” the man said. “Once, it snowed on that Monday holiday. We didn’t go swimming till a week later.”
“You probably weren’t in any polar bear club.”
“We had to go out and get the cows in the evenings. Once the sun starts going down in spring, it can turn right chilly. We’d be with bare foot running after the cows. So we’d warm up by standing in a fresh cow pie. Back then that felt good and warm.”
“I’ll bet your mom loved that.”
“We always washed up between our toes in the pond.”