“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Anyone who knows me knows this song may as well have been written for yours truly. Here I am! On the road again!

I am finally accomplishing a much desired goal: Going on a road trip to research for my book. I’ve been working on a fiction story which includes some true historical characters and being a perfectionist it has been driving me crazy not to KNOW basic things. Like, are there bluffs near that location? Or, when they cross said river, are the banks lined with forests, rocks, or sand? What does the whole area travelled FEEL like, look like, and taste like? Ok, maybe I’ll skip the tasting.

I know it’s not going to look the same now as it did mid Civil War, but hey, most of the mountains and rivers are still there–and the main road for our journey was actually on the map in 1860! Also looking forward to museums and “regional history” knowledgeable folk along the way.

I’m so excited!

I embarked this morning with my bodyguard. Um, I mean my youngest son. My husband is just a wee bit protective of me (he’s the best) and hated the thought of me traveling alone. Since he was unable to take the week off, he insisted on sending my teenage son (just what a teenage son longs to do.) At least if the car breaks down, I have help carrying the luggage and scaring off any bad guys.

Our first stop was in Hannibal, MO. This part has nothing to do with my research, but being a book nerd and having never seen Samuel Clemens’ home town, how could I be in the neighborhood and not stop by to check it out?

Hannibal must have been a beautiful town, though many of the old buildings now lie empty and falling into disrepair. Nestled in beautiful rolling hills, there are many of those rocky bluffs I am so fond of. The mighty Mississippi rushes past, numerous barges laden with cargo travel past, no floating trees noted today. We stopped by the cave where Injun Joe met his just end. It cost nearly $20 each to go in, so we opted out of that tour. Instead we proceeded to see Becky Thatcher’s place,

conveniently located across the street from Mark Twain’s childhood home. A nicely whitewashed fence stands off the side of Mark’s place. From the looks of it, the town’s children have been adequately bribed to keep it brilliant and clean. By the way, the handsome fellow in front of  the white picket fence is my active duty bodyguard, armed with music and audio books.

From there we drove through rolling hills spread with fields of soybeans or corn. Note to self: Photos shot while driving, don’t come out so hot.

On to Monroe City where my husband’s great-great grandparents married (characters in my book). The church where they married isn’t there, but one built shortly thereafter is. 

Tomorrow, we get to explore the western edge of Missouri, where my story begins.

I wonder. What kind of luck does a poor family have to move out into the middle of no where, searching for a space to call their own, a place to live and let live, yet end up stuck on the border between North and South, as well as the skirmishes that occurred across the border between Kansas and Missouri during that region’s most tumultuous years?

Not good, it seems.

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