We got a late start this morning. We made a leisurely passage through the Ozark Mountains and took a short hike in the Ozark Scenic Riverways National Park followed by a meandering drive through the Mark Twain National Forest. Coming down from the Ozarks, we made our way northward to Hannibal, MO – the boyhood home of Mark Twain – whose residents provided the inspiration for some of his most famous characters. Arriving in the late afternoon, we spent about an hour wandering through Hannibal before pressing westward toward St. Joseph, MO.
Hannibal can accurately be described as a tourist trap focused for the most part on making a dollar from Mark Twain’s name. Ironically, it is just the sort of gaudy ostentation that Twain himself often parodied in his works.
Of course the central character in Twain’s stories, and in his own life is the Mississippi River itself. We spent most of our time wandering along the waterfront. Much of Hannibal lies below the high water when the river floods. There is a large levee between the town and the river bank, but the top of the levee is only about thirty feet above the river’s normal level. Notice the huge barriers that are inserted into the slots of the levee gates during floods.
Having started late, and spent a good part of the day wandering around the Ozarks, it was pretty late by the time we left Hannibal. Instead of making it all the way across northern Missouri as we had hoped today, we ended up stopping about a third of the way across at Shoemaker’s RV Park along the side of US-36 in Bevior, MO.