Carthage, MO

The turtle and I left Wisconsin, seeking warm weather and old friends in Texas.

I camped at a truck stop in East St. Louis after 8 hours of driving on interstates that pushed through the center of Wisconsin and Illinois (a full-time job, if I maintain the pace 5 days per week). Truck stops are loud. and free! Although interstates don’t offer the best views, I didn’t have much time to dilly-dally.

The next morning, I got an eyeful of the gateway arch (William Least Heat-Moon posits that the very expensive arch was built to mark the easternmost border of the American West) just before getting ridiculously lost in the tangled urban roadways. The plan was to avoid Arkansas altogether by diagonalling through Missouri and Oklahoma before coasting into Dallas. “Missouri” sounded a bit too much like “misery” to me, so I cheered myself up by visiting the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage.

(g’ahead, click a pic.)

I didn’t actually gain entry to the chapel; 15 minutes before I arrived, it fell under lock and key. The grounds are extensive, though, allowing visitors to stroll through tunnels of trumpeting Precious Moments angels and admire the stone statues of bare-rumped cherubs. Two surprisingly alive palm trees flanked a path leading to one of the fountains. At the Precious Moments Chapel in southwest Missouri, those tropical trees were as incongruous as I.


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