Having now driven the length of the southern tier of Missouri I find the state fascinating as anyone exposed to a state for the first time would. Not exactly first trip, but first real driving trip.
First, I drove down I-44 which is what connects St Louis on the east to Springfield in the south central part of the state. Everyone seemed to pity the fact that I had to endure this, “the crazy traffic.” I later got to figure out that the problem, or at least part of the problem, was the presence of trucks on a 70 mile/hour highway. To be honest, it was quite a smooth ride. But of course, a decade of the Washington beltway and it is hard to get intimidated by any stretch of highway. The only place that potentially intimidates me, driving-wise, is New York city.
I did not get to visit Springfield like I would have, however, I did get to eat at local spot called Buckingham’s which is a barbecue joint. It rocked. I knew it was the real deal when the cook called out to me to wait and he brought my toast over bare handed, no glove or pretentiousness. I loved it.
So that’s a half-rack, with fried okra, toast, and horseradish coleslaw. I did not care for the horseradish coleslaw, but the rest was awesome and reasonably priced.
The next trip was to Joplin which is in the soutwest corner of the state. Driving down the main street in Joplin reminded me of main street in Buffalo. Clearly there was thriving industry at some point, but there was a sense of desolation, almost ghosttown-like. Ghosttown, it is not though, with over 49,000 people and with the general metropolitan area at 177,000, it is definitely a densly populated area.
I’m not sure why I expected Joplin in the southwest to be the mirror image of Cape Girardeau in the southeast, but they are clearly different in culture and appearance. The people in Jopline were warm and very interested in sharing Joplin history. However, did not get to sample the local fare, which is a must the next time around.