Saturday, October 8, 2011

Touring Howell and Shannon Counties

by Pa Rock

Today is Saturday  (regardless of the date at the top of this blog post), and Boone is out of school for the weekend.  He and his dad and I went on a long drive through northern Howell County and over into Shannon County.

Our first stop was Mountain View, the community where our family lived in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  We went by our old family home, which is now overgrown and looking really shabby.  There was even a toilet sitting on the front porch!

Heading east out of town we ventured by St. Francis Hospital where Tim was born in 1979.   As we neared Liberty High School, we took a detour down a long country lane to visit Blue Spring, a beautiful secluded spot on the river where we would often go to swim and play in years past.  Today was beautiful, only a few other people were out enjoying the river - the leaves were just beginning to turn and the water was crystal clear.

Liberty High School has changed quite a bit and looks good.  It has nice landscaping and the main building has been added on to a couple of times since I was the principal there.  Across the street on the old vocational agricultural grounds sits a very nice middle school.  Obviously many more students are enrolled there now than there were in my day.

Our next stop was a convenience store just off of the highway in Birch Tree, Missouri (Shannon County).  Birch Tree in the birthplace of former Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan and the boyhood home of former Missouri Governor Bob Holden - both of whom were friends of mine.  (Bob still is, though I haven't seen him in years.  Carnahan died several years ago in an airplane crash just weeks before he defeated sanctimonious John Ashcroft in an election for Ashcroft's Senate seat - making Mel Carnahan the only candidate to win an election to the U.S. Senate while dead!)

I was going to ask the people working at the Conoco Quick Stop if Birch Tree would be a good  place to launch a campaign for governor - but they appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent with very limited English ability - so I decided that they wouldn't pick up on the humor.   (Ironically, most of thee bumper stickers and other doo-dads for sale in the convenience store were xenophobic slurs directed toward Muslims.  The paraphernalia was long on patriotism and hatriotism - and short on common decency.)

From Birch Tree we drove toward Eminence, the Shannon County seat of government.  It is located on the beautiful Jacks Fork River.  Our first stop was the Alley Spring Mill.  There was a festival going on at the mill, an annual event called "The Haunting of the Mill."   Lots of artisans were there making things like apple butter, baskets, brooms, soap, stilts - you name it!  Alley Sprig Mill is a beautiful structure that sits next to a magnificent spring and clear watershed.   It is often  pictured on commercial jigsaw puzzles that can be found in stores nationwide.   The skies were absolutely clear blue, making the day even more special.

We next drove to another arts and crafts festival located on the other side of Eminence.  Again, we  found many unique and special ways to become parted from our money!

Tonight Nick is grilling burgers and we are going to watch a movie.  The vacation just gets better and better!

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