By Joe Sweeney
I’ve tried to meet many of the 50 Missourians we’ve featured, and in doing so, I’ve traveled to many cities, towns and interesting destinations throughout the Show-Me state.
A couple years ago—perhaps in the 2011 or 2012 issue including the 50 Missourians feature—I read about a gentleman who had driven every federal, state and county highway in the state of Missouri, and it got me thinking. I’m sure I’ve not driven every highway in Missouri, but as I studied the state map, I could identify darn few highways that I hadn’t traveled.
Perhaps it was a mid-life thing, but in the spring of 2008, I bought my Harley Davidson Custom Classic and have since logged more than 5,000 miles a year, which I’m told is a respectable number of miles for a periodic rider. I rode many a road in nearly all of the 114 counties of this great state.
I got to thinking, too, that I’ve lived in Missouri my entire life, though at one time or another, I’ve been fortunate to call Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia,
Jefferson City, the Lake of the Ozarks and Camdenton home.
Michelle and I extensively explored eastern Missouri at every opportunity we had when publishing St. Louis Homes & Gardens in the early ’90s. We had a chance to enjoy a paddlewheeler down the Mississippi and to boat the Mississippi on Alton Lake (yes, they’re one and the same), to go hot-air ballooning over the Ozark mountains, enjoy the beautiful drive down Highway J and across the ferry to my favorite restaurant—The River’s Edge in Fredericksburg—and boat just about every channel and cove of the Lake of the Ozarks, including our 200 mile-excursion on the Wave Runner from Bagnall Dam to Truman Dam and back (which, by the way, we can say we accomplished and may never again).
I can’t think of any sizeable lake in Missouri we haven’t boated on, or a river we haven’t paddled down in the canoe or kayak, except for the Missouri River, which I plan to navigate perhaps in the Wave Runner later this summer.
We’ve camped at many destinations around Missouri (if you can say you were truly “roughing” it in a motor coach) but most of the miles have been in the convertible, with the top down and soaking in all the beauty this great state has to offer, especially in its autumn glory.
People ask if jumping in the convertible, truck or on the motorcycle most weekends ever gets old, but for Michelle and me, it’s very liberating—especially on the Harley.
Which reminds me: A couple of summers ago, I rode my Trek bicycle from Atchison, Kan., down the Amelia Earhart Highway in northeast Kansas, to Kansas City, then on to Clinton and the Katy Trail. Subsequent day-end destinations that week were Boonville, Jefferson City, Washington, St. Charles and the SLU campus in Downtown St. Louis.
It may not be for everyone, but I’d strongly encourage you and yours to explore long-distance rides throughout the region on your bicycle. I’m charting a few more routes throughout the state with my shiny new titanium hip … and I’m anxious to hit the road.
Missouri is my home and I love nearly everything about it, but noth-ing more than the wonderful people we’ve been fortunate to get to know along the way. I’ll stay focused on meeting all of our 50 Missourians (and Kansans) in their hometowns, and probably will continue to explore the beauty and lifestyle that this wonderful state offers.
I hope you enjoy this year’s class of 50 Missourians You Should Know, and that you might drop in and say hello to some of these great characters of the state in your journeys. We hope too that you’ll take this opportunity to consider suggesting several interesting characters throughout Missouri and Kansas who you think we should consider for the next edition of 50 Missourians and 50 Kansans.
I hope that you too will get out explore and enjoy the beauty our state and region offers. Safe travels!
Editor-In-Chief & Publisher