Mark Twain National Forest

Day 10: Thursday, May 9, 2013
Start: Poplar Bluff, MO
End: Cuba, MO
Miles Driven Today: 208
Total Miles: 1,897

Today’s drive took us through the Ozarks and through the Mark Twain National Forest. We have really enjoyed the lonely roads that we have chosen; in most cases, we rarely encountered other cars and were able to drive at a leisurely pace without having to pull over to let a Speedy Gonzales pass by. While thunderstorms were forecast for the area, we were fortunate to skirt the rain and to even enjoy some bright sunshine and warm weather in the afternoon.


Into the Ozarks we go!

We first went through the Ozark National Scenic Riverways area. Two major rivers snake through the Ozarks–the Current River and the Jacks Fork River. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways area was the first National Park area created to protect a wild river system. We went over both rivers while winding our way West on Route 106 and then North on Route 19. There were campgrounds, plenty of places to rent kayaks or inner tubes and lots of open road to enjoy the lush greenry of this area.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Fabulous drive through the Ozark National Scenic Riverways

After leaving the Riverways, we meandered Northeast to the Mark Twain National Forest towards the metropolis (NOT) of Bunker. We drove 16 miles up a very bumpy, windy, hilly Route A. But the forest was fabulous and the drive was well worth it. Butler itself was just a few buildings shy of a blip on the map, but we’re focused on journey rather than destination! Thank goodness for that!

Mark Twain National Forest

Entrance to the Mark Twain National Forest

Open road

Oh the open road!

After leaving the Forest, we headed for tonight’s destination: Cuba, Missouri. Cuba is our ‘entry point’ to the next chapter of our journey–driving through the small towns along Historic Route 66! And to start off our Route 66 journey, we booked a room at the Wagon Wheel Motel in downtown Cuba. While I’m unsure why this little motel got so many accolades on TripAdvisor, it certainly has some charm. I just wish the motel owner, Connie, had as much charm as her property. She was as unwelcoming as could be–a very big change from yesterday’s stellar service at the Drury Inn. The room we have is tiny, but it’s clean and quiet. That’s fine with us!

Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba MO

Route 66 Kitsch – Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, MO

After settling into our room, we decided to walk through downtown Cuba. Apparently, Cuba is known as the “Mural City” of Route 66. In 2001, the local bank commissioned a mural to commemorate its 100th birthday. A local beautification group soon created a public art project that resulted in a dozen murals created by local and nationally known artists. Bette Davis, Amelia Earhart and Harry Truman are depicted in murals around town, each with a story of their visit to Cuba. I liked the Prosperity Corner mural the best, which wrapped around the building.

Prosperity Corner Mural Cuba MO

The Prosperity Corner Mural in Cuba, MO

Bette Davis Mural Cuba MO

Bette Davis Mural – Cuba, MO

We took Jasmine and Juliet with us on our stroll through Cuba. We got strange stares from the locals since they were in the doggie stroller. In fact, we made such a big splash that the waitress from the Missouri Hick Barbecue recognized us…we had looked at the take-out menu when we began our stroll, and she saw the dogs. She told us her life story, including her quest to find a Dachshund puppy. Finally, there was something even more incredible to look at than the rare Asian: dogs in a stroller!

Speaking of dogs, Jasmine and Juliet are simply exhausted from all this travel. Sleeping in the back seat is really hard work. 🙂

tired puppies

Juliet and Jasmine rest after an exhausting day of sleeping in the back seat

Tomorrow, we start our Route 66 journey in earnest! Can’t wait!

3 thoughts on “Mark Twain National Forest

  1. Love the photos of the open roads! You’ll see more of these further west – miles of open road without cars. Please take a photo of the route 66 sign for keepsake. As I follow your travels on the Rand maps, rte 66 is no longer listed.

  2. Just read an article in Trailer Life about route 66. hope one day to travel it also but with a trailer.

    Terry and Robin

    • Terry and Robin–some of the road on R66 is a bit of narrow, bumpy Portland Concrete. Not sure how I’d like motoring across some of the route with a trailer. But it sure was a great ride! It’s sad to see some of the towns in ruins…the Cars movie was really spot-on!

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