Monday, October 10, 2011

2011-30 Hannibal Missouri: A Bonus Report


Hannibal MO
Florida MO

Mark Twain Lake

Campground:   Mark Twain Lake, Army Corp campground.  $9 (half price senior rate)  Electric 50 amp.  Paved driveway.  Both reserve able (full hookups) and drive up sites.  All easy to back into, most are deep sites with plenty of space for those big rig campers.

I headed south out of the Iowa City area on hwy 218, (US 27), which became SR 923, in Missouri it becomes SR B, US 136,  and finally US 61, whew, thank goodness for GPS to keep me on essentially the same road except for all those name changes.  The winds picked up half way through my 173 mile trek.  Gusting to 25-35 mph , but the camper remained steady and comfortable to tow.

I’m staying at another Army Corp campground, taking advantage of my senior discount card.  They’ve already closed a few of the camping loops making for crowded camp loops at the ones that remain open.  I take the first open campsite I find and luck out with one that is surrounded by a forest of fall colors.  Mainly bronzy yellow/browns and light pumpkin oranges and yellow/oranges.  What a dramatic setting.

Oddly the Army Corp campgrounds permit people to place chairs, small tents, table or what ever to reserve sites for their friends who haven’t yet arrived.  It’s the only campgrounds that I’ve ever seen where one can hold a campsite without paying for the site or having the campers already there.  Not sure I like that.


The campground is about 20 miles from the Mississippi River and the famous town of Hannibal.  The town made famous by Mark Twain and the stories he wrote about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  The home Mark Twain grew up in is hear (1839) and all a part of a multi-building museum complex.  It’s almost like stepping back in time, wandering the streets, listening to banjo players in the downtown area.  Seeing the buildings that became a part of the stories Mark Twain wrote about with such skill.  Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) got his start working as an apprentice at a newspaper.  As I read the blurbs about his life, I found I had similarities in common with his upbringing.  He never saw anyone in his family kiss, he started work at age twelve and need I even compare our writing skills? ….  One of the Mark Twain museums in town contains many of Norman Rockwell’s painting that he did for an illustrated Tom Sawyer book.

What better way to get the feeling of this river town than to take a river boat cruise down the Mississippi.  It’s an hours tour, 30 minutes down river and 30 minutes back.  Not much of a tour except the great feeling of being on the river, the fresh air and the perfect sunny fall weather.  Seeing barges slowly moving up river.  And talk about realism, as we were boarding the paddleboat, someone in line pointed out a fat happy river rat on shore scampering among the rock walls,  Munching on tall grass and weeds.  

I later stopped into the Missouri State visitors center.  Which was located in the most unusual place in a house on the side of a hill and not even on a major highway.  The attendant was very helpful, even limping off on crutches to get me a few more brochures.  He said he’d broken his leg breaking in a horse and it wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last time either.  He loves to break horses.  Sounds like the horses like breaking him.  But he was in a great mood and provided me with a brochure on the “Great River Road Travel and Map Planner”  It’s a map that covers the roads that follow the great Mississippi River and I’ll be taking a portion of that route on my trip back to Florida.  This could easily take up a full summers journey.  Hmmm something to think about.

On my last day in the area, I drove around the southern end of Mark Twain Lake to the town of Florida.  Yes, Florida Missouri.  It’s where Mark Twain was born and the State park, just outside of the small town contains the Mark Twain Memorial Shrine.  The original two room house was moved a short distance from the town to the Museum where it is protected from the elements.  Since so much of Twain’s life as a boy is centered on Hannibal, I wasn’t expecting all that much.  But after arriving at the Shrine, I must admit that I really did feel the essence of the man who is truly one of Americas favorite authors.  He was born two months early in that two room house and was ornery from the start.  And even a drive through what remains of the town of Florida, barely a cross roads with a few houses and open plots of land, I once again got the feeling of being somewhere special.  Perhaps it was just the clear sunny autumn day.  A freshness in the air not always felt during the hotter summer days. Or maybe is was the silence only broken by the rustling of the dry fall leaves.   So with wonderful quotes from the great author swimming in my head “my books are water: Those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water”… I headed on back to the Army Corp campground to enjoy a late afternoon of reading a book outdoors surrounded once again by those wonderful pumpkin colored autumn leaves.  

More photos on my Picasa site.  

1 comment:

John Sterpe said...

Nice pictures Doug, hey, did you climb all the steps to the top on the Indian mound