East of the Mississippi

When I travel the country, I am amazed once again at its size and at the incredible endeavor it was to settle this land. In driving through New Mexico, you can’t help but think about the wagon trains making their way west across such rugged terrain. In Oklahoma you ca’t help think about the land rush that took away land from the native Americans, as well as the Chisholm Trail and the cattle drives. Looking at all the green trees in Missouri, you think about the diversity of biologic species, and this trip, I was thinking about how much greener the state seemed from 30 years ago. New trees that had been planted are now tall and majestic – I was thinking about Johnny Appleseed and his legendary planting of apple trees as I looked at all the amazing shades of green, after living in the desert for so long.

We traveled around St. Louis, so I only saw the arch from a distance, but I am reminded of how St. Louis was literally the Gateway to the West. So many families crossed this Mississippi and began a trek to new and foreign lands. While on the one hand, it is an amazing story of discovery and triumph, it is also an ecological and cultural disaster. All that’s left of our Native Americans in the midwest are place names, a few reservations, and come casinos – way more than I thought in both Oklahoma and Missouri.

Each exit near cities large and small reveal the “character” of American towns because of the interstate system. So much sameness where once there was individual character, a local mom-and-pop rather than WalMart, a downtown with viable stores, rather than same-ole same-ole malls. While I am grateful for the chains of motels that make traveling easier, I wonder at what we’ve lost over the years. How many people know – or remember – that the Interstate system was originally designed to move armament and troops in the Cold War easily from one place to another? Now it speeds traffic – and trucks….

There are so many trucks on the road. We truly are a nation dependent on oil – the trucks carry everything, and they consume barrels. Buy locally doesn’t seem to work anymore – and I’m not sure it ever could again.

Just some random musings from the ole history buff that I am….

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