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November 7, 2012

Missouri – Sunday, November 4

Winfield is just a tiny blip on the map of Missouri, but my stop there had the biggest impact on me today. As I left St. Charles, I wanted to head north along the Great River Road to Hannibal, following the Mississippi River. I knew I’d be driving through some little towns on the way, and I didn’t really expect to stop in many of them. As I drove through Winfield, I noticed a sign at the bottom of a street that said something about a chicken dinner. I wasn’t hungry at all since I’d had a bigger-than-usual breakfast, so at first I ignored it. But then my brain registered the words “meals on wheels” in parentheses underneath. I wondered if it was a fund-raising dinner. So I turned around and went back and found the senior citizen center where the chicken dinner was going to be held. I asked the guys who were getting ready to cook chicken if this was a fundraising event, and when they told me it was, I told them I would like to make a donation instead of buying a dinner. They talked to someone inside, and I went in and met a group of wonderful ladies trying to get set up for dinner. When I explained that I wanted to make a donation for their Meals on Wheels program, I told them a little about what I was doing, and they were so interested and supportive of my adventure that it really made my day 🙂 I ended up sitting down to talk for a bit, and they took some pictures, and then they even all came out to meet Tula! In fact, one of the ladies started taking Tula for a short walk around the yard, and Tula trotted away happily with her which surprised me because she’s usually so clingy, but then I think she realized I wasn’t on the other end of the leash, and she hurried back and made a spectacle of herself greeting me as though I’d been away for months. And then she was happy to see everyone – luckily they all seemed to be dog people! I ended up buying a chicken dinner to go and they gave me ice for my cooler and we took a couple more pictures, and it was just a really heartwarming stop. Angel, the director, told me how many meals they deliver every single day in the community, and I can’t remember exactly what the number was, but it was in the hundreds – and I admire what they’re doing. As I continued my drive north, I thought about some of the people I’ve met so far on my journey, and there have been sooooo many good, kind people who are trying to help others who are less fortunate. I come through and make my small donation, but they’re the ones working day in and day out to help others – I’m happy to meet them, and I certainly enjoyed the group I met in Winfield, working hard for the Lincoln County Council on Aging!

It was time to get going with my walking for the day – I came to the town of Louisiana which was a big one compared to the little ones I’d been driving through. We walked through town, then down to the river (where I saw the first of many long coal trains, then far out into the neighborhoods, and covered almost 4 miles. There’s a lot of cool old brick buildings in Louisiana, but some of them have seen better days, and there were quite a few empty storefronts. Then I continued on to Hannibal, and found myself in Mark Twain country. Nearly the whole town seems to be a memorial to Mark Twain – and Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. It became difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially since he used his neighborhood pals as models for his literary pals. It makes me want to read those books! Mark Twain’s childhood home is still standing, and is now a part of a museum complex at one end of town. Tula and I walked through the historic part of town, then went down by the river to look at the Mark Twain steamboat. Lots of people were out and about on a Sunday afternoon. We also climbed 244 steps up to a lighthouse on a bluff high above the Mississippi – we were higher than the bridge spanning the Mississippi! Tula and I walked til dusk, and I need to remember that it’s going to be dark earlier. We finished our walking for the day though, and then I began the drive across the state toward the St. Joseph area, but called it a night in Chillicothe.

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