Fuzzy Fables

“That there’s not a skunk,” the guide pointed to one animal pelt on a table, “That’s genuine Alaskan sable.” It was a skunk, the guide admitted, but to the European fur market in the early 1800s, the term Alaskan sable … Read More

Alone in the Wilderness with coyotes

Downriver, I found a suitable gravel bar where I beached my canoe to climb the riverbank and set up camp deep in the Irish Wilderness. Because the wilderness deserves a “leave no trace” campsite, I packed light: a tent, sleeping … Read More

Surprise, Missouri

As I paddled down the Eleven Point River, I knew that within the better part of a county in every direction, I was a population of one. This is the Irish Wilderness. Along the river there used to be a … Read More

Missouri’s Unknown Superstar

Next time you sit down with the kids to watch Disney’s Pinocchio, listen to the cricket. He was born here. At least, his voice was born here. When that loveable bug sings “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the voice … Read More

Insanity

St. Joseph. Jesse James died here. And the single most unsettling image–of a vengeful John Brown–hangs in the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. But no unsettling emotion compared to the final stop on my self-guided tour. The first thing I saw … Read More

A Tale of Two Stacked Ladies

Jack Dawson, I’m calling you out. 1961. The first photo I ever took, long before the selfie craze. My photo op was dramatic only to me. Steaming across the Atlantic,  the Queen Mary’s three smokestacks poured a layer of smoke … Read More

Silver Wings

I left Route 66 and motored north from Rolla. At Vichy, a tiny fork in the road, I passed three familiar friends, three old birds that stood in the darkness a mile away. Even though I couldn’t see them, I … Read More

English Teacher Hell.

Graveyard for Naughty English Teachers

Imagine any English teacher buried there, eternally damned to lie under a misspelled word. Then again, maybe the sign was painted by one of her students, in which case she shares some of the blame.

Gravy

There’s a sad phenomenon in so many of these precious old towns. Generally, more people lie under the ground than on top of it. I thought back to an experience I had in London. The date was November 11, and … Read More