November in Missouri is seldom predictable, but today’s overcast skies are fairly typical. As temps hover in the upper 40’s we pack our tuna sandwiches, chips, water and carrots, then bundle up for our threefold destination.
Our first stop will be Salisbury. While it’s English cousin is famous for such architectural marvels as the Salisbury Cathedral and nearby Stonehenge, Salisbury Missouri has…wait for it…the Sinclair dinosaur!
From there we will head over to Wien, the site of an ancient Catholic church that Paul remembers from his boyhood. And finally, we will cruise into Brunswick, the Pecan Capital of Missouri. Subsequent postings will cover each of these sites in more detail, but for today it’s all about getting there!
We begin our journey on highway 63 North. This north-south thoroughfare is an easy drive ever since MO-DOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) completed the welcomed four-lane expansion in 2010. Outside our windows, wide open fields dominate a landscape peppered by occasional businesses, single farm houses and numerous farm equipment. Relatively flat, this area offers the back-road traveler miles of picturesque landscape.
We turn right onto highway 24 east, toward Moberly. Known as The Magic City, Moberly’s impressive turtle-shell bridge on highway 24 rises sharply over railroad tracks, providing a bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside. Before long, we pass the turnoff for Huntsville, the county seat of Randolph County. Just up ahead, those who love odd mailboxes will appreciate an awesome large-mouth bass one on the right. Within minutes, we reach Clifton Hill. The acres and acres of pecan trees that flank the highway are owned by Shepherd Farms, which until a little more than five years ago, also had an impressive herd of buffalo.
From Salisbury, we take 129 north 17 miles to Wien, which is named for the capital of Austria (Wien is German for Vienna). While the terrain outside our windows is flat and a bit boring, the road twists in and out and round about between individual farmlands. Not surprising, there are also several sharp turns forewarned by numerous “slow down” signs. Then, just as suddenly, the flat bottoms disappear, hills pop out of nowhere and the road roller coasters in response. Along the way, we pass the turnoff off for Prairie Hill, and also one of my favorite Missouri named towns, Bynumville.
From Wien, we backtrack south on 129, until we get to D, where we take a right. While on D we whizz by the entrance to Lake Nehai Tonkayea (another one of Paul’s old stomping grounds). D ends at the unincorporated community of Mike. From here we turn left, following the signs to Keytesville, home of Sterling Price, a key Missouri figure during the Civil War. We pass through Keytesville and at the T take 24 West. From here it’s just a little over 11 miles to Brunswick.