Springfield to Joplin

Our group of four vans, five people, three cats, and one dog splintered today. Buffy wanted to make better time, and Debbie decided to hop the highway. I decided to stick with Birgit and Tom’s slower pace. We’re not on a schedule, and are free to take in as many sights as we want along the way.

Today’s drive was in two parts. It was still slightly damp and quite windy when we left Bass Pro Shop, our home for the last two nights. Visibility wasn’t great.

Flat and straight is easy. Strong winds are not.

The worst part was the wind, which was quite strong and very gusty. You don’t notice it in a car, but we very much noticed it in our tall vans. Roads like this one have a speed limit of 65 out here, but we didn’t feel comfortable doing much more than 50 with the flashers on. Even at that speed I had a hard time keeping the van in my lane sometimes. Traffic stacked up behind us, so we kept pulling over where we could to let it by.

The Carthage, MO courthouse.

The Carthage town square was beautiful, especially the courthouse at the center of it. Tom explored the architecture a bit, while I had a sandwich and took a break from the slowest white knuckle driving I’d ever done. Fortunately, the second half of the drive was at lower speeds and much more relaxed.

The 66 Drive-In.

This is yet another iconic location on Route 66. Unlike many other places, this one is still alive and well. They’re fully operational, as you can see from the movie listings on their sign.

Inspiration for Mater from Cars.

I also had to stop and snap a photo of this old tow truck. This, or one very much like it in Galena, Kansas, was the inspiration for the character of Mater in the Cars movies. The writers did a Route 66 journey themselves, drawing inspiration for the movie along the way. None of the movies mention Route 66 by name, but the story of Radiator Springs is absolutely the story of so many towns that boomed when the road opened, and died when the interstate bypassed them.

Last stop in Missouri.

Finally we rolled into Joplin, right on the eastern edge of Missouri. This was a must-see because Birgit and Tom’s cat is named Joplin, so a photo shoot was necessary.

A painting of Joplin and its history in city hall, which also housed the visitor’s center.

Tom and I checked out the visitor’s center inside city hall. A nice woman was thrilled to tell us all about the city’s history, and pulled no punches about its gangster history. Missouri was a wet state, while Kansas next door was a dry state, so there was no shortage of smuggling and bootlegging going on back in the day.

Bonnie and Clyde’s hideout.

None other than Bonnie and Clyde hid out in Joplin for a while. When the police figured it out they came knocking, only for a shootout to start that left two officers dead. They were in such a hurry to leave that they left many things behind, including an undeveloped roll of film. This house is where all that happened. How appropriate that I drove here with a V8-powered Ford, which was Clyde’s preferred getaway car.

We, ourselves, hid out at Chateau Walmart for the night. It was one of the quietest Walmarts we’ve stayed at yet.

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