Business of an exciting sort took us to Missouri at the end of September. While it was not a great week to be absent from work (this was the week of our seventh grade overnighter to Catalina), the reason was of such magnitude and importance that there was really no question regarding whether I should miss the trip and head back out to the Midwest. After all, our seventh graders are blessed to have several teachers and staff who can care for them and chaperone a school field trip. My baby Jacob has only one mom to watch with thanksgiving and pride his graduation from basic training. We departed from Los Angeles’s Delta terminal on Monday evening following a busy day of work and preparation, and hopped on a plane at LAX with cards of congratulations from family and friends and landed in St. Louis early Tuesday morning.
After spending the night at the Holiday Inn near the airport, we picked up the rental car and drove west and south toward Lake of the Ozarks. The 2-hour route took us through Jefferson City, Missouri’s state capital. It was right about time for some food when we hit the city limit on U.S. 54, so we decided to stop for lunch. And having had to memorize all 50 state capitals back in the day with help from the Animaniacs, I was happy to be able to explore the capital. Fifth grade me would have been so pleased.
For lunch, we headed to Prison Brews, a brewery and pub located near the old Missouri State Penitentiary. The brewery featured burgers and sandwiches along with craft beers. The restaurant is designed to invoke the image of prison, with booths decorated like ‘cell blocks’ and artwork that was done by inmates of the state penitentiary. I had a black bean burger and tater tots along with a glass of their honey wheat beer. The burger and tots were decent, but the beer was really good.
After lunch, we drove the half mile to the Capitol building. Though it was tough to find parking that was not metered, we eventually found a place to park the rental and headed inside. It is free to tour the Capitol and museum, so it was a perfect low-cost, educational activity.
We walked through the rotunda and up the steps. A museum employee told us that the Senate was possibly still in session, so we decided to check it out. I have no photos from that meeting as photography by the public is prohibited. The discussion we heard was with regard to tax breaks for foreign corporations, an issue that I did not realize was of concern in the Midwest as much as it is in California. We listened in for a while before heading over to the museum wing.
The museum encompasses the symbols of Missouri and its history. Missouri was the first state west of the Mississippi River to petition for statehood back in 1818. When it was admitted to the union in 1820, the Missouri Compromise allowed for slavery. The compromise, meant to settle the growing heated debate over slavery, was in effect for 34 years before it was invalidated- and it did not settle the issue. It would not be long after the Kansas-Nebraska Act that the nation would be engaged in the Civil War.
Being the ‘gateway to the West,’ there was also much in terms of culture in Missouri. Mark Twain, the famed writer of such works as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, had his origins in the state of Missouri and drew inspiration from his time on the Mississippi River. Kansas City jazz developed in Kansas City, Missouri as a result of a mix of different styles and cultures.
In addition to the various cultural resources, Missouri is a land of many natural resources. Water is in abundance in the state, with waterways, lakes, and springs being important to recreation and agriculture, as well as providing habitats for the many species of plants and animals found in the state. The Ozarks provide some interesting geology and beautiful scenery. Missouri is a top producer of lead ore in the form of galena.
After nerding out for a bit, it was eventually time to head out. The drive from Jefferson City to Lake of the Ozarks was only going to be about an hour, but it was time to check into the resort. I really enjoyed learning about Missouri and all that it has to offer.
Some things to consider:
Parking was a bit of a beast around the Capitol building. Most of the public parking areas were metered and we had no change, so we had to park several blocks away. There was a tiny bit of free parking near the building, however these spots were all taken.
I absolutely recommend a visit to the Capitol if you’re ever passing through Jefferson City. Happy trails!
“Missouri Compromise Ushers in New Era for the Senate.” U.S. Senate: Missouri Compromise Ushers in New Era for the Senate, 24 Mar. 2020, https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Missouri_Compromise.htm.