They say of Missouri folk that they are taciturn and sceptical, and will listen to you for an hour without saying a word, and they will walk away knowing everything about you, and you will be none the wiser about them. I can't vouch for all of that, but it wouldn't surprise me based on my interractions. And yet Missouri is in some ways a cosmoplitan state, sharing borders with eight other states - only Tennessee shares that distinction. it is the state of TS Eliot and Mark Twain, with adopted sons such as George Caleb Bingham (b. Virginia) and Tennessee Williams (b. Mississippi).
However I did not get to see much of the state. I had planned to head up Route 66 as far as Chicago, but time and weather were against me. I decided to head off more directly towards South Dakota, my primary objective, after a night in Carthage and breakfast in Iggy's Diner, taking in a couple of places in Kansas on the way. However I didn't head off as soon as I expected, as - unbeknown to me - Carthage was hosting the 2015 Maple Leaf Car Show. I must confess to not knowing about this institution, but it seems to involve old car buffs converging on a park in the town and having their cars judged in competition. I didn't stay long enough to find out who the winner was, but I got the T-shirt.
I only knew about Joplin from the song about Route 66, but it is an interesting place. The old Route 66 threads across the town with no apparent purpose until it reaches the Kansas border. Passing through desolate neighborhoods on the patchwork of roads that trace Route 66 from Carthage there is an old disused Route 66 drive-in cinema, a wonderful drive in liquor store, a Route 66 Trailer park and a lot of areas that look, quite literally, like they have been flattened. And they have. Joplin was hit hard by a tornado in 2011 which resulted in 158 fatalities, and the city is still in the process of recovering from the devastation.
Next stop: Kansas.