Baseball From Chicago To Houston, Part 3: Through Missouri

Taum Sauk Mountain & Kansas City, Missouri (Map)

Spring 2015


Driving on the interstate, it would normally only take about 3.5 hours to drive from St. Louis to Kansas City. Without baseball to watch tonight and therefore the whole day open, I proposed driving southwest into the St. Francois Mountains towards the highpoint of Missouri, Taum Sauk Mountain.

This was a 3-hour detour overall, leaving us roughly a 7-hour day of driving. I couldn't see any way that Clarkman would oppose this - especially as I was supposed to drive, but sheepishly asked if he could take over because I felt pretty haggard from the night before.


We weren't on the interstates surrounding St. Louis for long, before exiting to a rural 4-lane highway that cut through country of small brick churches, bungalows and rolling hills.

This US-67 was so rural that it was even rare to see the standard Dollar Trees and McDonald's that nowadays dot every square mile of this great nation.

After finding ourselves on even smaller roads, we passed through handsome towns like Pilot Knob and Ironton, before leaving even those behind to wind around forest roads and farmland.

Around midday we finally turned onto the last road to Taum Sauk, finding signs that warned of smoky conditions and possible fire up ahead. I had only previously seen forest fires off in distant mountains & with these small fires still letting us pass safely through, it was more of an experience than anything (of course this isn't ideal for nesting birds or lovers of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park).

Behold! The highpoint of Missouri!

The state park here isn't some gigantic outdoorsy hub like some of the other state highpoints, but Clarkman and I still managed to go the wrong way before realizing our mistake. Realizing this before expending all of our energy, we then recomposed ourselves and conquered the 0.4 mile (643 m), ADA accessible paved pathway to the peak of the Show Me State!

At 1772 ft, Taum Sauk is the 41st highest state highpoint (Michigan's highpoint is 1979 ft). It is ranked as a difficulty 1 and it is the 17th state highpoint I've surmounted.

If you plan on following in my shoes, there's also a 3.0mi/4.8km trail to Mina Sauk Falls, which is the highest waterfall in Missouri. Surprised by the amount of on-the-ground time it took to drive all of the winding roads to get here, we didn't make it to Mina Sauk Falls.

Taum Sauk Mountain and the St. Francois Mountains are more of ridges than peaks, meaning there wasn't much view from the summit of Missouri. Leaving the peak behind, there's a small porch with some information boards overlooking a clear area and providing better views over the surrounding countryside.

As much as I wanted to poke fun at Missouri's highpoint, this was still fine country even if it wasn't Denali or Katahdin.

We would stop in nearby Potosi for lunchtime Taco Bell, before getting a move on through a new collection of small towns. As we crossed over Route 66, I was amazed with myself for recognizing the intersection in Cuba that I drove 5 years prior (they have a distinctive, coloured tile gas station though - don't give me too much credit).

Now, GPS systems would like to bring you back to St. Louis in order to go to Kansas City, but we instead took a more direct route back towards the I-70 that cuts across Missouri. This meant going through Jefferson City, but as time was no longer on our side, I could only crane my neck at the capitol building, old women's prison and the hilly, intriguing downtown.

Instead of Jefferson City, the only stop between Taum Sauk and Kansas City would be for gasoline. It's here that instead of advertised fireworks, I went for the Larry The Cable Guy chips. Boy they weren't good eatin'.

In the course of finding our hotel in downtown KC, we ended up in one of those quiet districts of midwestern cities, where we could park our car easily and take a few minutes to enjoy the last bits of the day's golden hour.

By now, Clarkman wasn't feeling good at all & decided that tonight was the night he'd sit out. Sitting in the hotel for a beer or two, I then decided to go for a brief walk over to this nearby bar. We wouldn't be spending tomorrow night in KC and this was my only chance at experiencing Kansas City by night.

The place I entered was your classic American pub in a narrow old building with sports on the TV. It wasn't very happening on this Wednesday, but I still pulled up a seat and watched basketball highlights with three or four other patrons. It seemed like one of them knew the bartender, which kept him busy except for getting me a beer.

So that place was totally fine if a bit unexciting, but I still decided to leave and head over to the Power & Light District. After just denouncing and running my yap about avoiding St. Louis's Ballpark Village, I went to a pretty similar thing in KC - I guess I thought it was more of a neighbourhood than a designed district?

I ended up at this awful, forgettable bar; acquiring terrible service and cold, stale artichoke dip.

Afterwards I walked around the Power & Light a bit more, finding nothing appealing and very few things even open. While I was enjoying the fact that I was in Kansas City, everything else was pretty perfect for a night for Clarkman to skip.

As for where we stayed, this was the first sleeping spot of the trip that I used Priceline, getting the fancy, art deco Hotel Phillips for a song. The lady at the counter was even a sweetheart as I asked for two beds - even though they owed us nothing by using Priceline - giving us a suitable room on a high floor just like I requested. She also told me that she loved my hair, which Clarkman had been going on about cutting throughout the trip.

Navi 1, Clarkman 0.

It was a good thing I brought my charismatic self to the front of the line.

The next day would be an entire day spent around Kansas City with a matchup against the Tigers that night. Where I had been to Chicago lots & St. Louis a few times before, we were now into the exciting new cities of the trip. Previously I had only driven past Kansas City one time & never stopped.

Continue to Part 4...


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Southwest Detroit's Hotel Yorba

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Baseball from Chicago to Houston,
Part 2: Springfield & St. Louis


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Baseball from Chicago to Houston
Part 4: Kansas City

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