Day 4: June 12, 2011
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I obviously didn't study my route close enough or I'd have realized that it passed through a key town, Pittsfield, Illinois, from the 2008 Sweetheart Cruise. Seems I've traveled some vintage US 36 without realizing it.

The first picture is what you see when you wade ashore (or walk backwards on dry land) at Hannibal, Missouri. The riverfront is home to the Mark Twain riverboat that gives cruises and a Mark Twain statue that doesn't. I guess the young Mark/Sam was still developing that twinkle in his eye but I think I do see a hint of a smile on his lips. This bird in the flowers caught my eye before I caught his.

During the aforementioned Sweetheart Cruise, we enjoyed some pretty good BBQ in an old grocery warehouse near the river. Today the place looked abandoned.

I parked near the Tom & Huck statue and bought my ticket for the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. The museum provides an introduction to Mark Twain's life. It contains the model of a never built (but it sure would have been impressive) sculpture of Twain and his creations. Inside the home, which he last visited in 1902, each room contains a different Twain and a different quote. The house looks pretty good from the outside and so does the Becky Thatcher/Laura Hawkins house across the street and currently closed for renovations. With all the fences in such fine shape, residents have taken to whitewashing signs. I believe that is Mark Twain presenter Jim Roberts with the brush.

It turns out that it's only the museum that is new and it's the same old Mark Twain. The new museum has some "interactive" displays of Mark Twain stories but most seem to be little more than elaborate housings for video screens. There are some interesting artifacts upstairs and I really like the original Norman Rockwell paintings of Mark Twain scenes.

This storybook service station was in Clarence, Missouri. Besides the station's own truck, there is a full cast of customers comprised of a cop, a cab, and a camper. The inside, photographed through a window, looks pretty good, too.

This abandoned bit of concrete Thirty-Six is just west of Callao. Note the "roll 'em over" curb seen on other Missouri roads such as US 66.

I spent the night at the Sunflower Motel in Hiawatha, Kansas. It got new owners about a year ago and they seem to be putting some real effort into the place. HVAC, baths, and more are being replaced a room at a time as money permits. This is my room. The sign is pretty cool but it would be even cooler if the neon worked.

RoadsideAmerica calls this a "strange grave" and they'll get no argument from me. After checking into the motel, I headed out to see what amounts to the biggest attraction in town on Sunday (when two promising museums are closed). Several "explanations" can be found on the internet but almost all describe a man intentionally and successfully depleting his (or his wife's) fortune on the monument.

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