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Days 4-5: Kansas, Missouri, Illinois & Indiana

Our days have been a blur lately.  So much farmland with endless barns, fields, and trees along the way.  Living out of hotels and a suitcase got old pretty quick, so we’ve been driving like bandits! Focused on getting to Michigan to pick up our trailer, we’ve been passing through quite a few states on the way.  After seeing Oklahoma, it was at the top of our list.  However, while we were staying there, we saw a tornado warning on the TV.  That was a rude awakening! As much as I liked Oklahoma City, I’m afraid the possibility of a tornado was a deal-breaker.

 

Day 4 (6/4/14): Oklahoma City, OK | Wichita, KS | Joplin, MO | Branson, MO

After Oklahoma, we drove through downtown Wichita, Kansas.  We took the I-35 highway from Oklahoma City to Wichita and decided that the I-35 should be called the Armadillo Murder Highway because we saw 5 dead armadillos on the side of the I-35 on the way to Wichita.  Lots o’ road kill! Aside from the armadillos, the greenery between Oklahoma and Kansas became slightly more scarce, but the churches became larger with the occasional massive cross marker on the side of the highway.  I think it’s safe to say that we were officially driving through the “Bible Belt.”

Our next stop after Kansas was Missouri.  The route required a 2-lane highway with the random creepy dilapidated farmhouse on the side of the road.  We started verbally labeling these farmhouses “TCM” for Texas Chainsaw Massacre as they reminded us of the movie and the site where it took place…haha! A fun little road game.  🙂 We were heading to St. Louis, MO but decided to make a couple of stops along the way.  Our first detour was Joplin, MO.  When we first saw the sign for Joplin, Justin remembered that a catastrophic tornado had taken place there a few years back, and he wanted to see the tornado site along with how well the town had recovered.  It’s looking good with many newer buildings.

After Joplin, we headed to Branson, MO.  With more theatre seats than Broadway, Branson is known as the “Broadway of the Midwest” and has always intrigued Justin.  Branson had a small-town America feel to it with a Main Street for it’s downtown.  We stayed the night there and walked around Branson Landing, a shopping center by Lake Taneycomo where we saw the mesmerizing water and fire show.  The same people who choreographed the fountain show for the Bellagio in Las Vegas also did the $7.5 million fire and water show for Branson Landing.  The lake had an eerie yet enchanting fog hovering over it.  Later that night, there was a crazy storm with crashing thunder and bright flashes of lightning! The torrential downpour of rain formed rivers of water that ran down the hilly topography of the town.

 

Day 5 (6/5/14): Branson, MO | St. Louis, MO | Illinois | Indianapolis, IN

When we headed out the next day, the rain continued.  From Branson to St. Louis, we came across the world’s largest rocking chair standing 42’4″ high! There was also a surprising number of vineyards and wineries that we passed along the way.  I had no idea that Missouri made so much wine! How random, right? Once we got to St. Louis, the first thing we did was look for a good BBQ place.  How could we come to St. Louis and not try St. Louis-style ribs?! We headed to Pappy’s Smokehouse and stopped for lunch.  Thank goodness! It was seriously the best BBQ we had ever had! We could smell the sweet smokiness sauntering through the parking lot as we approached the restaurant, teasing us with the mouth-watering BBQ to come.

From St. Louis, we drove through Illinois (don’t worry…we’ll make our way back to see Chicago) and continued on to Indiana where we stayed the night in Indianapolis.  On the way, we passed the Mississippi River and also happened to see 4 more of the “World’s Largest” items – World’s Largest Wind Chime, World’s Largest Golf Tee, World’s Largest Knitting Needles, and World’s Largest Crochet Hook! Once we got to Indianapolis, I forgot about the time change and didn’t realize how late it was because it was past 9:00pm at night, but it was still light outside.  What a trip! We had White Castle for dinner (my first time!) and then crashed.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see downtown Indianapolis because we had to get up early the next morning to get to Michigan in time to pick up our trailer.  More on our trailer next time! 🙂