The first stop on our roadtrip was the George Washington Carver National Monument.

We had eaten a hearty breakfast and then been in the car for a couple of hours, so we were ready to hike the Carver Trail.

This trail takes you from Carver’s birthplace around to other family sites, with the idea of giving a sense of what the Carver farm was like.


It is a mile, if you take the Contemplative Loop, as we did. I don’t know why this section of the trail would be more contemplative than any other. There are sensible and thought-provoking quotes from Carver at intervals all along the trail, giving one plenty to contemplate, but I guess this bit is supposed to be even more contemplative.

This quarter mile loop takes you around a nice little pond. We heard woodpeckers, which I think we do not have at home, and much screaming from a school group that was coming around behind us. Also, my boys kept threatening to push each other in, even though I pointed out that it was called the Contemplative Loop, not the Fratricide Loop.

So perhaps we did not approach it in the right spirit to get the full sense of its special contemplativeness.

Here is the Carver house. It is twice the size of the birthplace, but still very small.

We might be better off with a little house like this and 210 acres to run around in, than with our big houses and little land.



Climbing trees seems like a better use of a kid’s time than playing violent video games.

Not that those are the only choices, but so much of the modern kid’s time is spent in front of one screen or another.

When my children were small and we lived in a little place on five acres, they ran around a lot. Now it is rare for them to climb trees, as they did at the Carver farm.



One way things were definitely worse was clearly shown in the family graveyard. Here is the grave of an old man, Moses Carver, who had a good, full life. But most of the rest were children — 10 months, 11 months, two years, 7 years… it went on and on. I cannot imagine seeing so many of your children die. And I am thankful that I cannot imagine it. Sights like this put an end to romanticization of the past.

Unfortunately, the Science Center was closed, so I still don’t know what chemurgy is. Some day I will look it up.

Next we went to Independence. We admired the log cabin and Pioneer Spring, but did not return to the museums there. Instead, we found #0 needles in the knitting shop and prowled around the square. We saw the ice cream parlor where President Truman had his first job, and a statue of him, and other such mementos of the 1940s. This taxidermy shop with antlers all over it was more interesting on the outside than on the inside.

In the course of this prowling, we learned the meaning of “Uff da!” and bought mysterious foreign chocolates.

The buying of mysterious foreign chocolates is an important part of road trips, it seems to me.


Here are the ones that have not yet been eaten. And our postcard. We did not ride in the wagon, but we did get to admire the furry legs of some Clydesdales.

We then went to dinner with my aunt and uncle, which was great fun, and then to the home of our hosts for the night, friends of #2 daughter.

They have a charming little house with arch-shaped doors and a very nice piano. They were charming, too, and made us very welcome. The wife and #2 daughter are having their recitals one after the other on Friday, so I may get to hear her then.

They have flowers and music all over the house, and we played Catchphrase until my bedtime. It was a lot of fun. Nowadays, I have houseguests more often that I am a houseguest, so I had sort of forgotten how much fun it is to join in another family for awhile. Admittedly, we outnumbered them, but we still joined in.

In the morning, I snuck out and made a cup of tea and took it out into the yard. There I was, in jeans and a thin cotton shirt, sitting on the porch swing and enjoying my tea, when I decided that 33 degrees is a bit chilly for that sort of thing. It was at that point that I found that I had locked myself out of the house, with everyone else likely to sleep for several more hours.

I tapped on the window by #2 son’s head until he rescued me, and had a second cuppa to warm back up.