|Camden Co, Missouri||North America||1,512||English||37.969/-92.592||1,109 miles|
Montreal is located in the Canadian province of Quebec. It is the largest city in the province, the second largest in the country (after Toronto) and the fifteenth largest in North America. Originally it was called Fort Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary”, named after Mount Royal,the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city. The city is located on the Island of Montreal, where in 1611 Champlain established a fur trading post. Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1832.
It also has the distinction of hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics. But for many people its the home of the Giant Orange, a 3-story tall, fiberglass and plastic fruit-shaped building that has been serving orange juice since 1942. Oh, and there’s also the Montreal Grand Prix.
Historically the commercial capital of Canada, today Montreal is a bit out-shined by Toronto. However, it remains an important center of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, film and world affairs.
Someday, Paul and I are going to go to Canada’s Montreal. But for now, we settle for the next best thing.
Our trip to Montreal actually begins as an extension of our Versailles trip. Because so many of these tiny communities are located off the beaten track, we make the most of every day trip by visiting several if possible while we’re “in the hood” so to speak. Sometimes it’s a breeze when the towns are barely a stone’s throw apart. But getting to Montreal from Versailles will take us a good hour.
We head south on Highway 5 and within 10 minutes we see the sign for Gravois Mills. This immediately takes me back to my college days when I worked as a camp counselor at the YMCA camp just outside this cute little town. The job itself paid diddly squat. But I got to horse-back ride, sail on the Lake, and live in the woods for three months. Priceless!
As we drive through Gravois Mills it looks about the same as I remember. However, I don’t recall the Bait’s Motel (not sure I would want to shower there), and I squirm a bit when I see the Rebel Docks (which sells boat docks) sign, which is made from a Confederate Flag. Yes, Missouri was a divided state during the civil war; but I was under the assumption we had entered the 21st century at some point. Hmmm.
As we get further into the Lake region, road signs entice us with vacation spots, but there are also numerous cave signs as well. With a limestone underbelly, Missouri is often referred to as the “cave state” or sinkhole state. In fact, there are more than 6,000 caves in the Show-Me state, and new ones are constantly being discovered.
But the road begins to roller coaster like nobody’s business, and in response I raise my arms in the air and “yahoo!’ while Paul grips the wheel and gives me a “oh please, not again” look.
Not 10 minutes later, we cruise through Laurie and past the St. Patrick Catholic Church, known for the National Shrine to Mary. Like many of the churches in the Ozark area, St Patrick’s has an outside area where they offer Mass in the summer. I always thought this was kind of cool when I was growing up. But today, we keep going, soon passing though Sunrise Beach and Hurricane Deck. (Did I mention that Missouri is also chalk-ful of poetically named towns?)
We’re making great time, until we come up behind an incredibly large hay-hauling truck. Stuck and barely moving for the next few miles, I sing along with the radio to drown out Paul’s cussing.
But nine miles outside of Camdenton we lose the truck and suddenly we have a spectacular view of the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s called the Lake, but its more of a region really. As the largest privately owned lake in the United States,the Ozarks has 1,375 miles of shore line – more than California, folks, takes up a huge chunk of the bottom of the state and brings in some where around a bazillion tourists every year – and I’m not exaggerating. But Missourians don’t give a rat’s ass about statistics; we just like that fact that we have “beaches” to go to that don’t require plane fare.
It’s sprinkling as we we pull into Camdenton. But it’s the increase of rock outcroppings and the soil, now almost reddish sandwiched in between, that catches our eyes. We have nothing like this in the central and northern regions of our fair state, and the change is dramatic.
Pretty soon we turn left onto highway 7, and face yet another bumpy, twisty road. At one point, miles of white picket fence appear on our left, then we whizz past the Box M Ranch, which hosts an impressive arched gate and a split rail fence. Overall, brown cows pretty much dominate the landscape.
And then, we stumble into Montreal, greeted by the road sign next to the Number 3 Fire station.
Highway 7 triangles at the Montreal Post office, which by the way, boasts prominently it has its own Zip code: 65591. But we go right and it doesn’t take us long to figure out Missouri’s Montreal is not quite as impressive as it’s Canadian cousin. It also doesn’t take us long to realize we are soon out of town. So, we do the required bat-turn and head back, stopping at the only commercial place we see that appears open – the Buffalo Wallow Antique Store.
We park in the empty lot and notice there are two buildings. After a quick rock-paper-scissors decision, we head for the one on the right. Dark and cluttered, the room is filled with the required mix of antique stuff. We mill about, seemingly on our own as our footsteps resonant loudly on the squeaky wood floors. It’s a while before the owner appears, entering the same doorway we had moments earlier.
But soon, he’s chatting us up. In fact, he’s quite friendly, which we find is pretty common in these little towns. Tells us he’s been at the location for 16 years, but the buildings were originally a school house and general store.
He also informs us that Montreal isn’t the metropolitan city we might assume from first glance. In fact, there’s no real governing body per se, or restaurants to speak of, or gas stations either for that matter.
Overall, it seemed like this Montreal is more of a fork in the road for people on their way to, pretty much anywhere else.
But then again, maybe we went the wrong way at the triangle. And Montreal is only a stone’s throw from Bridal Cave, totally worth seeing. And although this country cousin doesn’t have a Grand Prix, it does have a trucking company called “Dirt Racing Motor Sports Inc.” I’m sure we missed a few other Montreal tidbits during our short tour of the area.
But by this time, it was getting late and the roads are a bit iffy after dark. So, time to say goodbye to the store owner and Montreal, and to the first of our Byanyother.name trips.
One last thought though: Please drop us a line though if you’re more familiar with the area – suggest other places to see, etc.
Then watch for our next adventure. We’ve heading for the bonny shore of Scotland!