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

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.

The Source

Hidden Waters Nature Park, the headwaters of the Niangua River. Headwaters are sacred, and townspeople have preserved this spot where the Niangua breaks into daylight. The water rushes from its spring and splits the park in half, cascading downhill at … Read More

Joining Lewis and Clark

“Hands!” the sergeant barked at me. “Let me see your hands!” I stuck out my palms, and the sergeant inspected them for calluses. Seeing none, he dismissed me with a grunt. “Yer too green to make the crew. You’d never … Read More

Smokin’

Coasting into Greentop, I would have bypassed the world’s greatest purveyor of smoked meats, without much more than visual contact with the big red building. But Sam Western had stuck his big barbecue smoker in the parking lot of Western’s … Read More

Harry’s Walks

After he left the White House, locals saw Harry almost every day during his morning walks from his house. What a house. The fourteen-room Victorian home sits in an old neighborhood not far from the town square. Today it’s preserved … Read More

The wild animal in my life

The ancient ash tree in our back yard reaches halfway to Orion, where its loftiest branches fork and fork again to throw new shoots toward the sun. Tucked into those soaring ash cradles—not big enough yet to make Louisville Sluggers, … Read More