Mother Earth, Artist.

Beyond this peaceful spot, on this autumn afternoon, the Great Impressionist had turned expansive soybean fields into giant green-and-gold palettes. Some fields, planted earliest in the spring, already had turned brown, the beans ready for harvest. The drive through the … Read More

Hillbillies, Hay Bellies and Hostess Twinkies

Shuckin' Hostess

It was a dream. A nightmare. When I was a kid, I don’t remember seeing any over-sized hillbillies. Hill folk worked hard to squeeze a living from rocky soil. They were rugged, independent, self-sustaining people. Skinny, mostly, but healthy. They … Read More

The Route 66 Bridges Across the Piney River

Four bridges cross the Big Piney River at a spot so rugged it was damn near the last section of Route 66 to be completed. We floated downriver into the shadow of each bridge, close together, from oldest to newest. … Read More

Old names along a meandering drive

“Next morning we caromed across Lyon Township, named for the first Union general killed in the Civil War, at Wilson’s Creek. We passed Neeper, and the hill where the old Cracker-Neck School stood, and the site of an old place … Read More

Sunrise

The deer and turkey awaken and the fish begin their day at Truman Lake.

Deep Blue

After squeezing through Coot Chute and rounding Owl’s Bend, the Current River joins the Ozark Trail for about five miles. Along that stretch, many floaters miss the stunning blue water of Blue Spring, even though it’s only a quarter mile … Read More

Rite of Passage

The train was late. That didn’t matter to seven men awaiting its arrival. “I’ve learned to be patient,” said Mason, sitting next to me in his prison issue gray trousers and white T-shirt. Earlier that morning, seven inmates had been … Read More

Gustav Spills His Guts

Just outside Windsor, Gustav’s guts started spilling. Gustav had slammed into Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, and plowed north through Arkansas into southern Missouri. By the time it reached Sedalia, the storm had devolved into an extratropical depression, which … Read More

The Road By Gads Hill

Boarding a railroad car at Gads Hill, Missouri, Frank James quoted Shakespeare, announcing to startled passengers his gang’s intent to rob them. Just the rich, mind you. Not the working poor, with calloused hands. No women. No children. The Bard … Read More