June 19: Doesn’t everybody have literary heroes?

I spent a second night in Hannibal, Missouri, after my adventures with my rib on Saturday, because I was too tired and sore after all that to go explore the town. Hannibal is where Mark Twain grew up, and he’s pretty much a cottage industry there. You can go explore the cave that was the prototype for the one in Tom Sawyer, you can visit a reconstruction of the shed where Jim’s prototype lived (I kid you not), etc., etc. Most of it was too gimcracky for words.

On the other hand, the Boyhood Museum (which contained a number of buildings, including a restoration of one of the houses (his father had a hard time earning a living and died when Sam was eleven) Twain grew up in, the house of the little girl he modeled Becky Thatcher on, and a reconstruction of the Blankenship cabin (Tom Blankenship was the boy Huckleberry Finn was based on, and he wasn’t quite as badly off as Huck growing up) was interesting and fun, and worth an hour or so.

The white house is one of several Twain lived in as a kid.  The sign in front of the white fence says this is the one Tom Sawyer got everyone else to whitewash for him [g].
The white house is one of several Twain lived in as a kid. The sign in front of the white fence says this is the one Tom Sawyer got everyone else to whitewash for him [g].
I know exactly what Twain meant when he said this.  From inside the museum.
I know exactly what Twain meant when he said this. From inside the museum.
The "Huck and Tom" statue in downtown Hannibal.
The “Huck and Tom” statue in downtown Hannibal.

Oh, and there was a quilt shop across the street, which looked tiny from the outside, but inside was four huge rooms full of fabric. Yes, I bought two more half yards.

Thank you to Jane Hotchkiss for the lovely afternoon. She recommended that I take Missouri Route 79, which more or less follows the Mississippi River from Hannibal to St. Louis. It was a really pretty drive. The Mississippi is huge by the time it gets this far south, and this time of year it’s really, really full. Several viewpoints along the way provided great views (from at least one you could see at least fifty miles over into Illinois), and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Also, the Mississippi River bluffs are really heavily wooded. All those curly-haired deciduous trees [g]. I bet that drive is spectacular in the autumn.

A glimpse of Old Man River.  This time of year, as my friend Mary says of North Carolina where she lives, the forest is like a green wall on either side of the road.  Only in a few places can you actually see any distance.
A glimpse of Old Man River. This time of year, as my friend Mary says of North Carolina where she lives, the forest is like a green wall on either side of the road. Only in a few places can you actually see any distance.
A tugboat on the Mississippi.
A tugboat on the Mississippi.
The Mississippi from a city park in the town of Louisiana, Missouri.  It's funny to think about where some of that water came from -- some of it passed through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, over Yellowstone Falls.
The Mississippi from a city park in the town of Louisiana, Missouri. It’s funny to think about where some of that water came from — some of it passed through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, over Yellowstone Falls.

Tonight I’m in St Charles, Missouri (a western suburb of St. Louis), and tomorrow I’m going to go see the Gateway Arch! (I’ve been wanting to do that ever since I took Amtrak from Ohio to Texas to visit my parents years and years ago, and got a glimpse of the Arch from the train on the Illinois side of the river). Unfortunately, the museum underneath the arch is closed for renovation, and no, I’m not going up in the arch because I don’t do manmade heights and I’m slightly claustrophobic about manmade closed in spaces, but I want to walk under it and see it close up and personal.

I really want to go to the Missouri Botanic Gardens, too, but it’s 95dF and really humid, so we’ll see if I can manage that without melting in a puddle. They’re one of the oldest botanical gardens in the U.S. and are supposed to be really something.

And then it’s on to southern Illinois, where I plan to stop and see my fellow Bujold listee Jim Parish. It’ll be nice to be social again with a friend.