best laid schemes gang aft agley…

On my birthday, I jumped on my bicycle and rode a long way, at turns laughing or lamenting my first 67 years…came home with a bucket list for my next 67, if nothing goes awry.

When The Circus Left Town

In 1933, the circus came to town.  It stayed for a dozen years, or at least it rested in Rolla, where the Russell Brothers Circus plopped and hunkered for the winter. And each spring, the major three-ring extravaganza rehearsed in … Read More

Devil’s Real Estate

Devil’s Well is a big stomach, says one of America’s preeminent geologist-explorers. It’s Mother Nature’s idea of an indoor pool, except that it’s cold and dark and underground and scary as hell, hence the name. It is the world’s most … Read More

Mass Grave in Jefferson City

This monument stands atop a mass grave in the Jefferson City National Cemetery. Beneath are buried the 147 Civil War Union soldiers killed responding to the Centralia Massacre. “On September 27, 1864, Bloody Bill Anderson’s guerilla gang—including a young recruit … Read More

Barbecue Epiphany Leads to World Peace

The credit card machine kept disconnecting. I didn’t have cash, or my checkbook. “No problem,” said Perry Foster, “mail me a check.” Perry Foster’s Bar-B-Que embodied all that is good about humankind: Trust and harmony and world peace. Oh, and … Read More

Rays of Sunshine

  It’s hard to overlook Ray’s Diner. On Broadway in downtown Excelsior Springs, Ray’s low-slung exterior shouts the words “Ray’s Famous HamburgerS” stretched across the diner’s face in mismatched hand lettered fonts over an awning that screams in candy cane … Read More

The Ghost of a Roadside Inn

Took a nap beneath this sign, sharing space with the ghosts of travelers who stopped here long ago to add a sticky chapter to their Route 66 journey. It was a time when cars had crank-down window air-conditioning and tube … Read More

Worldly Courthouse

We took a series of concrete ribbons to New London to roam the Ralls County Courthouse. Built in 1861, its Greek temple look was adapted from the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson. The courthouse cupola copies the belfry … Read More

A Root Beer Toast to Huck’s Home

I took solace up the hill where a giant water tower-sized root beer mug hovers over the Mark Twain Dinette. They serve giant tenderloins, too, and root beer floats, and Maid-Rite burgers and plenty of photos of the dinette’s namesake, … Read More