Travel

Missouri Part 2

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The adventure continues! (Missed Part 1? Start here.)

As I mentioned here and here, I was in Springfield, Missouri last week to catch up with my roaming yoga instructors to complete a missed module of teacher training. Outside the walls of Studio 72, my free time was limited to early morning and evening car rides back and forth from La Quinta, where I chose to rest my weary head.

It was ranked highly by customers on travel websites and the staff very sweetly made the effort to greet guests with sidewalk chalk sentiments, but I was underwhelmed by the rest of the experience: the scripted delivery at check-in (my pet peeve, vs. a free-flowing, natural exchange); unavailable water – for free, let alone to buy (only lemon- or raspberry-flavored for sale); rowdy neighbors in the middle of the night; weak coffee in the morning.

I don’t mean to sound like a nagging bore, for real. I’m sharing because I care about these things and know that a strong brand is one that leaves you feeling fabulous. On leaving La Quinta, I felt “meh.”

But everything changed the second I hit the back roads with my rental car and discovered some extraordinary sights!

First, on leaving Springfield, I passed a magnificent bike fence built by “BYK MAN.” He told me he started it a few years ago when he noticed his little daughter bursting out of the house towards the road to get the daily mail. He thought a few old bikes would be enough of a barricade to keep her safe from traffic, and over time he added more – some he found himself; some he received as gifts from the kindness of strangers.

It’s become quite the conversation starter!

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From there, I was eastbound to St. Louis, passing roadside billboards (promoting guns, god and fireworks mostly) and attractions like the Jesse James Wax Museum, a Vintage Toy Museum, and the “Route 66 Rocker,” the world’s largest!

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Missouri Part 1

citymuseum6On my trip to the American heartland last week, I did what I always do: I seized the chance to travel as an exciting opportunity to explore!

It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do, and it’s increasingly feeling like an area of personal genius. (I always took my sense of adventure for granted and didn’t regard it as anything particularly special, but people tell me otherwise.)

So although I was headed to Missouri because of a yoga workshop in Springfield, Missouri (as part of my teacher training), I opted NOT to fly into Springfield because, in my mind, it’d limit my lay of the land. Instead, I looked for neighboring sights to see, things to do, roadside attractions to visit, weird Americana… anything that would be out of the ordinary with the potential to deliver a novel, non-touristy experience.

In doing some research, I learned about a shrine to the Black Madonna, somewhere on back country roads at the foothills of the Ozarks. Done! Decision made. I’d fly SFO-STL, stay the night at an Airbnb in St. Louis, then drive to Springfield the next morning, stopping at the shrine en route.

But first, St. Louis!

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My seat mate on the flight there said his city was well known for the iconic arch, the Cardinals sports team and Anheuser-Busch, but lesser known for City Museum, “a scrapyard playground for kids of all ages, including adult kids.”

Our plane touched down as it was getting dark and although I drove to City Museum as fast as I could, the doors had already closed. Here’s what I was able to see:

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From here, I went to Seedz, a lovely little vegetarian restaurant, and then to the Cherokee Arts District before calling it a night. (It was nice to see t-shirt shop STL-Style showing their support for the protestors in Ferguson, MO.)

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