From May 1804 to September 1806, Meriwhether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery into the West on an expedition that would change the course of history. They left in the pursuit of knowledge, and for the sake of documenting the adventure. In some ways, what I am doing is similar; I am embarking on a long journey into unseen lands, exposed to experiences that harden the spirit and open the mind. I am forced to learn as I go just like they were.
For the most part, however, our journeys are drastically different. They often had to fight to survive and possessed little to no knowledge of what was around the corner; their supply of resources was determined almost exclusively by the time of year and the land that surrounded them. Today, the resources are nearly unlimited if you know where to look or who to ask, and with access to the internet I can see what’s ahead of me from 50 feet to 50 miles.
As I walked through Missouri, I was greeted with hospitality and kindness as I have learned is customary in all the states I’ve walked through. This time, however (perhaps because of the cold, the power of networking, or shear dumb luck), I found more hosts for a longer period of time than I have seen so far while walking across the nation. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and Missouri went by in a flash. I went to the top of the St. Louis arch, switched from a backpack to a pushcart, saw a flower-covered Stan “The Man” Musial statue the day after his funeral, got a tour of a former Uranium and TNT processing plant at Weldon Springs, watched a newborn calf being born after a day at the spa, went to a pig roast with a Brady-Bunch-Esque family, toured the capitol building in Jefferson City, had the greatest weekend ever at Mizzou in Columbia, and got snowed in near Kansas City during 2 consecutive snowstorms.
Now that I’ve crossed under the gateway to the west, there’s no turning back. I am at the halfway point, and I am feeling great. I am reminded daily that I can’t do this without the help of others, and that learning to be self-reliant sometimes means leaning from others. As March approaches, I look forward to warmer weather and the vast expanse of unknown that is THE WEST.
Thanks to Karl and Shirley from Chesterfield for being the most gracious and helpful hosts a dude could ever ask for; to Walter “Stormy” Crawford for an exclusive tour of the World Bird Sanctuary; thanks to Kathy (and Leo the lion) from Augusta for the reminder to live life to the fullest, everyday; to Kim, John and their family and friends from Augusta for a wicked awesome night of fun and music (especially the drum circle); to Marybeth, Ed and the Brady Bunch from Washington for showing a hobo a really good time and understanding the value of thinking outside-the-box; to Simon from Kirkwood for being a lifelong teacher and a great friend; to the BALTIMORE RAVENS FOR COMING UP CLUTCH; to Ryan from Jefferson City for going out of your way to make sure I don’t miss what’s right under my nose; to Deb from Washington for being the greatest surrogate Aunt ever; to Cory from Columbia for kicking my ass on our 20+ mile bike ride and showing me everything Columbia has to offer; to Rachel from Columbia for being my Valentine; to the Police from Sedalia and La Monte for helping me get out of the cold at night; to Al and his family from La Monte for supporting another (albeit slower) cross-country traveler; to Alec and Ryan from UCM in Warrensburg for a solid disc-hucking session and letting me crash on your couch; to Jenny from Holden for giving me much needed shelter when I was sick and tired of being sick and tired; to everyone at Jamie’s restaurant in Holden for making my birthday a great one without even knowing it; to Pete from Kingsville for making my day, making my night, and making the next morning too; to Trina for being an awesome mom and looking out for the son of a worried mother; to Sean from Lee’s Summit for taking me out of the snowy, frozen real world and into the incredibly addicting world of Skyrim; and to Shami from Raytown for a delicious gyro and making a very convincing argument to travel to Pakistan.