|Washington Co, MO||N. America||130||English||37.763368/-90.772212||4,029 miles|
The name Caldonia is thought to come from large central Pictish tribe, the Caledonii, who lived in modern Scotland during the Iron Age and Roman Era. But the exact location of what the Romans called Caledonia is not clear. After Hadrian’s Wall was built to protect Roman interests in the area, Caledonia was situated to the north of the wall; to the south was the Roman province of Britannia or modern England and Wales.
But we had no trouble finding Caledonia, Missouri.
Paul and I love traveling throughout the Show-Me State. It’s always an eye-opener and we learn so many new things every time we visit these little off the beaten track communities. But after visiting Caledonia, we learned a really valuable lesson: always check our pictures before saying adieu. Our drive by picture of the Caledonia city limit sign – well, that’s exactly what it looked like – a drive-by. Blurry? More like a snapshot of pea soup (taken in fog). So, the above “road sign” is a placeholder until we can get back this way again. That being said…
Caledonia, Missouri was founded in 1819 by Alexander Craighead. If Caledonia doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue, consider this – its a much better choice than the alternative: Craigheadville (a definite possibility in a state where adding ville to pretty much anything is often first choice). But back to Mr. Craighead. A proud Scotsman, he operated a store on Goose Creek, and was responsible for platting the town of Caledonia around it.
Paul and I didn’t have any expectations when we set off. But Caledonia,bas part of our three-city whirlwind tour, including Belgrade and Arcadia, turned out to be a real gem. In addition, getting away this weekend was a Godsend for both of us. Like so many couples our age, operating in that unique middling stage of life – responsible for children and aging parents, both of which we love dearly – our psyches need a jump-start every now and then and a chance to take a breather, preferably somewhere else. Caledonia did us good.
Home to the oldest Presbyterian church west of the Mississippi, Caledonia boasts a long and glorious history. One of the brick buildings we stumbled upon indicated it was once used as a hospital during the Civil War.
But it was the Old Village Mercantile Store that made this tiny town such a memorable experience. The sign on the window says circa 1909 and the substantial sidewalk cover is supported by three wooden columns that proudly state they have coffee, antiques and fudge. That third one spoke to us. We parked and practically raced each other to the door.
Inside was like stepping back in time. No it was better than that – more like stepping into that warm, cozy place everyone knows exists, but can’t always find – where everything is peaceful and calm and full of sugary delights, favorite old toys and knicks and knacks and pattiwacks galore. We spent a great deal of time meandering the aisles, oohing and awing, feasting our eyes on all the “stuff”. We left reluctantly, but not without with two kinds of fudge, gently wrapped with clear crisp wax paper, taped shut – with plenty of napkins. It was a given, that fudge wasn’t going to make it home.
About five miles south of Caledonia we stopped at the famous Elephant Rocks State Park.
I had heard about this place for years, and frankly it lives up to my imagination. What an impressive demonstration of Mother Nature’s handiwork. Massive boulders, a leftover of the last ice-age when the glaciers retreated to the north, Elephant Rocks are car-drive worthy, indeed.
We spent the next hour or so climbing and jumping around like curious children. And it was awesome!
Of course, we spent the next 1/2 or so, enjoying the relative cool atmosphere of our CRV, stuffing ourselves with amazing fudge, all the while sighing, taking in the rock-dominated view, and trees as far as the eye could see.
When we finally left the Caledonia area, we were pleasantly tired, a little sticky and ready for our next adventure.