June 15-17: Ouch.

So. There’s a reason I haven’t been online in four days, and it’s not a good one. I slipped and fell out of the back of my van the day before yesterday onto an asphalt parking lot, and managed to dislocate my rib again in the process (as you can tell from the “again”, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this – the first time was about ten years ago, when I was recovering from shoulder surgery and overdid the physical therapy – my rib has been predisposed to further dislocations ever since). On the bright side, I was in a good-sized college town (Warrensburg, Missouri) at the time, and a good chiropractor was easy to find. He popped it back in, and I spent yesterday resting in a motel room (sans wifi, alas), but my muscles are still screaming sore if I move the wrong way (or sneeze, or blow my nose, or… — driving is fine, though, thank goodness). I also managed to bruise my tailbone, I have a small case of road rash on my left arm (I had a lump on my elbow for a few hours afterwards, but it’s gone now, and the arm works fine), and I bumped my head slightly (so slightly that it wasn’t even bruised). I’m going to be okay, but criminy.

Oh, well. Maybe this is this trip’s Official Disaster (for those who haven’t read Cross-Country, or heard me talk about it, that trip ended with me rolling my car out in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California – I was fine, the car was totaled).

Anyway, with that one exception, Mrs. Lincoln, the last three days have been fine, if way too hot for human beings (100 on the fifteenth, 10-bleeding-6 yesterday – both dF). It was too hot, even at eight in the morning, to go out and walk any distance at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Fortunately, the little road out to my campsite the night before (which was lovely once the sun went down and the temps dropped into the 70s dF) was lined with orange milkweed and purple coneflowers (another one which I now understand why it doesn’t like cool, damp western Washington), among other flowers.

Milkweed in bloom.  First time I'd ever seen this one in the wild.
Milkweed in bloom. First time I’d ever seen this one in the wild.
Purple coneflowers, which ditto.
Purple coneflowers, which ditto.

I also saw a confection of a county courthouse in the small town on the way from the campground.

The county courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.
The county courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Then I cut my losses and headed to Topeka.

Kansas’s state history museum is every bit as good as Washington’s, and that’s saying a fair amount. And their history is longer than ours, too (well, their documented history is, anyway). It started with the usual paleo-Indians, but where it really got interesting was during the years leading up to the Civil War. You’ve heard the term, “bleeding Kansas,” I’m sure, where people really got riled up (to the point of killing each other) over whether Kansas should come into the Union as a free or a slave state. This is where John Brown (of Harper’s Ferry fame) got his start, too.

Bison and horse statue outside of the Kansas History Museum.
Bison and horse statue outside of the Kansas History Museum.
The school building that houses Brown vs. Board of Education, NHS.  It was a functioning school until 1976, the year before I graduated high school.
The school building that houses Brown vs. Board of Education NHS. It was a functioning school until 1976, the year before I graduated high school.

It was also really air-conditioned in there, as was the old schoolhouse that houses the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, although the NPS did that one with geothermal, which was pretty impressive. That’s in Topeka, too, and while calling some of the stuff that I actually remember historic just makes me feel old, the whole thing was really well done. It seems odd to me that the landmark civil rights Supreme Court case originated in the Midwest rather than the South, but that’s where it was.

After I left Topeka, I ended up on the Kansas Turnpike, which is a) really the only way to get to and through Kansas City, and b) the first more than five miles stretch of Interstate I’ve driven on the entire trip. There wasn’t even a Welcome to Missouri sign – my eighth state, and another one I’ve never been to before.

I got lost in Kansas City looking for the Arabia Steamboat Museum – I never did find it, much to my disappointment, because I think it would have been really interesting, but it was getting to be late in the day (aka rush hour), so I went on east into Missouri, found myself a motel in Warrensburg, and fell out of the back of my van.

This morning, after a second visit to the chiropractor to make sure the rib was still where it’s supposed to be (and to have a Tens unit attached to a spasming muscle in my back for a little while), I headed north by east to Hannibal, which means that yes, I’ve completely crossed the state of Missouri. I ate lunch in a café in a wide spot in the road, which was delicious, and also stopped in the hamlet of Florida, where Mark Twain was born. The actual cabin is inside of a museum <g>.

One of many reasons Mark Twain is one of my literary heroes.
One of many reasons Mark Twain is one of my literary heroes.

The cabin where Twain was born.  Presumably before they moved it into the museum .
The cabin where Twain was born. Presumably before they moved it into the museum [g].
Then I came on to Hannibal and found a motel (I’m not going to be camping again until I’m feeling better), and tomorrow I will explore where Samuel Clemens grew up. I’m really looking forward to that, even if it does look like they’ve made something of a cottage industry out of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer here.