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California to Missouri - Road Trip

Updated on September 21, 2014

We love to travel

One of the things that we do best is travel, seeing as much as the United States as possible. This road trip was to visit family in Missouri but there are many things to see along the way. Since this is a RocketMom challenge as an about me lens, it seemed appropriate to use the latest road trip to share more about me and what was learned on this trip taken from June 30, 2011 to July 21, 2011.

Niles and I left early in the morning for this road trip. My husband was unable to go so it was just the two of us. From the look on his face, it seems that he is asking "Are we there yet?"

So many states, so little time

Our route

From California to Missouri. I40 and I44 all the way. Why is it the road work in Oklahoma is never competed? I've made this trip two more times since and they were still ripping up the highway.

Things that one ends up buying on the trip

United States Interstate Highway Map
United States Interstate Highway Map
Most people who plan to travel work from a map when planning their route. I know how to get to Missouri. I don't need a map. However, when traveling with children, the map is important. It teaches them about state lines, county borders, distances and stops the asking about how much longer. Give them the map and let them work it our for themselves. I bought one when we were almost through Arizona.

4th of July Parade - Marshfield, Missouri

Although we missed our hometown parade where Niles generally rides with the Pony Baseball League, he still got to ride in the 4th of July parade in Marshfield. This entry is a family affair with my brother, my son, my nephew, my grandson and a great niece and nephew. Also on the jeep is my brother's best friend and his daughter. The guys are part of a World War Two reenactment group so they ride in all the parades. They also do Civil War Reenactments on horseback.

If you have not had the pleasure of visiting a hometown parade in a smaller community on the 4th of July, it is really a treat. Our small parade has the same feel as the one in Marshfield. It is not hard to find yourself swept up in a moment of pride in our country and the people who have served in our armed forces. On the 4th of July, it doesn't matter where you are, it is about Americans celebrating our heritage and our history.

4th of July - Not the best picture but good grief, it was dark. It's amazing that it came out at all.

We are not allowed fireworks of any kind in our county in California. Niles has never had the opportunity to try a sparkler or any kind of firework for that matter. At my niece's house in Ozark, Missouri, we had lots and lots of things that the guys had a great time blowing up.

Pretty sky, pretty landscaping - Heat index of 105 degrees Fahrenheit

Silver Dollar City is great when it is not hot and muggy. Christoper looks cool but Niles looks slightly damp.

Branson stops

Niles and his dad posed for this picture taken in front of the Bass Pro Shop in Branson, Missouri. Very pretty setting but it was downright hot! Branson also has an amusement park called Silver Dollar City. Don't go there wearing denim in the summer. It's pretty awful. The Bass Pro Shop in Branson is nice but the largest one in the country and the first store is in Springfield, Missouri. It is enormous and they are still adding to it. It is a tourist destination and has lots of things to see.

Civil War Site - Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

The Ranger's were very helpful in sharing information about the battlefield and the people who were caught up in the middle. They also gave us the teacher's guide and the information for the students as we are now a homeschooling family. This is great information to teach about the Civil War and the reasons behind it. One of the packets is about "No easy choices; Taking sides in Civil War Missouri". What we learned will help with the Civil War history that we will be working on this year. There are no places in California that have this kind of history and being able to walk on the battlefields and visit one of the original homes makes it real. It's not just book learning. Having been to several of the other battle fields in Virginia and Pennsylvania, this one strikes me the same way. With such beauty comes such tragedy. .

Checking out the cannons at Wilson's Creek

These are the cannons that shelled the Ray House until they were informed that it was a hospital site. Again, the beauty of the area belies that suffering that happened there. This battlefield is a family favorite as the reenactments held there are always attended by the family and my niece was married there in full costume and on horseback. This is also where the family comes to ride with trails specifically for horses.

Niles on horseback, first time ever. Turned loose in the pasture, he learned to ride. Snowman is patient.

The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

From Wikipedia

"Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of early Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt"

This is a long standing feature that encourages spray painting as part of the art expression. The small figure to the right of the third car is Niles who decorated three cars with his name.

Links to the sites we visited

If these are places that you have not already visited, then here is an opportunity to learn more about them.

The Painted Desert


The colors could have been more vibrant but we had just driven through a monsoon thunderstorm and the sun was not shining. Still, for a sunless day, it was still impressive. The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest are part of the same area.

The Petrified Forest - Arizona

I am completely happy with this photo. As mentioned above, it was not sunny and I was not sure if I could capture the colors in the petrified wood. This turned out better than I expected. This was a learning experience for us both. How do you get petrified wood? The answer is volcanic ash, water, and trees.

Meteor Crater - Arizona

Impressive hole in the ground. Spend some time in the Visitor's Center where there are many impressive interactive displays that will delight children and adults alike. There is a simulation where you can create your own meteor. Niles managed to blow up the earth. Good science, learn while you have fun. There is no way to take a good picture of the crater with my camera. You just need to know that it will hold 20 football fields at the bottom and that it was originally 200 feet deeper.

Apollo Test Capsule at Meteor Crater

Apollo Test Capsule at Meteor Crater
Apollo Test Capsule at Meteor Crater

Please share your comments - Been there, done that or plan to go?

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    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 

      7 years ago

      Great pictures! I have done this same trip - Southern Calfornia to Ava, Missouri about 10 years ago. Very memorable trip!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't get to travel much these days but I sure enjoyed taking this trip with you! I love that 4th of July sure took in all the sites, thank you for sharing the are bubbling over here! :)

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      8 years ago from McLaughlin

      You visited my neck of the woods! I go through Ozark, Missouri to get to Branson. Really enjoyed the article!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I stop at the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo each summer when I go to New Mexico. The last time, I actually brought a can of spray paint with me so I could leave my mark. It has been quite a while since I took a long road trip, so I enjoyed reading about yours. Thanks!

    • sonnygone profile image

      Sonny Goodman 

      9 years ago from Sherman, Texas

      Nice Lens! I really enjoyed your pictures and comments.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This looks like an amazing adventure, and how wonderful to experience it with Niles! I love how you added "what not to forget," which got a big smile from me (I can relate!) Did some of the trip tie into genealogy? I'd be curious to hear if so...

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 

      9 years ago from California

      What a wonderful adventure--a mix of history, nature, and modern stuff. Thanks for sharing the trip!

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      What a beautiful memento of your trip! I absolutely LOVED the images of the Petrified Forest and the Arizona Desert... how absolutely stunning! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Welcome home. Thanks for the tips and tidbits about your trip! Can't wait for the next installment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful trip... great photos. Looks like you both had a wonderful time!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Loved traveling with you...I wish we had visited the meteor crater when in Arizona, we've flown over and seen it from the air, I think it was this one, but it must be something to see on the ground. Like a visit to mars or the moon.

    • Ann Hinds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Hinds 

      9 years ago from So Cal

      @ChrissLJ: SDC: Wish you had told me that 2 weeks ago. Since we will probably return to the area, will keep that in mind. Thanks

    • ChrissLJ profile image


      9 years ago

      I've also been to Marshfield, Wilson's Creek, Silver Dollar City (agree to never wear jeans there) and Bass Pro in Springfield! =0)

      A trick from the locals about going to SDC, in the hot of the day, go on the Lost River and then visit the Saloon for one of the cancan shows. (There are other shows, but the Saloon show is the best.) They keep the shows air conditioned, so between that and the wet clothes from the water ride you'll soon be shivering.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Interesting lens! Squidangel blessed and linked to my Facts about Missouri lens.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I would love to travel more, keep travelling while you can, it must be wonderful!

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      9 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I would love to travel more, keep travelling while you can, it must be wonderful!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      There's so much you can learn while traveling. I love visiting historic sites. Too bad it was so hot but looks like you persevered.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Looks like you and Niles had a wonderful trip, Ann. Great photos!


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