Missouri the Beautiful

I’ve wanted to get out of Missouri for a long time. It’s frigid in the winter and miserably humid in the summer. I want to live in the mountains. Now that the possibility of leaving is real, I’m thinking about everything I might leave behind.

The first and most important thing to give me pause is my family. With the exception of a few relatives, almost my entire immediate and extended family live in Missouri. I’m blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my parents. A lot of people don’t have that. Even though I’ve been living away from home at college for four years, I’ve always been an hour and a half drive from my family if I needed them or they needed me. Someday I’ll have kids. That’s probably when I’ll most want to live close to my family. Both sets of grandparents lent a hand in raising my brother and me growing up. I can see their influence on me and am sure they were a huge help to my parents. I can’t imagine raising a kid without a support system. So if I do move away, I’ll want to at least move back when the time comes to start my own family.

Missouri has a nice balance of all four seasons. I especially appreciate the fall when all the leaves are changing and the spring when everything is in bloom. Even though I love fall and spring and get tired of the extremes of summer and winter, I think I need all four seasons. Some states don’t really go through as many seasonal changes. It helps me feel the passage of time and makes me appreciate every beautiful day that we’re blessed with.

Although it doesn’t have mountains, Missouri does boast some beautiful nature. Of course we have the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But the real gem is all the smaller rivers and streams. The Meramec, the Courtois, the Huzzah, the Jack’s Fork, to name a few. Float trips are an important part of my summertime memories. Down south, we have the Ozark hills, which masquerade as mountains. All over the state, you can sit at a winery overlooking rolling vineyards or hike through deciduous forests. Though I crave to travel all over for natural wonders, I’ve gotten my daily nature fix right here in Missouri.

Katy Trail State Park, a former railroad line covered in gravel, stretches across the entire state. I’ve biked and hiked stretches of the trail on countless occasions. It’s the perfect stress reliever — after a day of class I can jump on my bike and just go as far as my legs will take me. Yesterday after class I rode from Columbia almost to Rocheport, 32-36 miles round trip. It was glorious. A gentle breeze complemented the warm sun. Animals along the way included geese, a turtle, a wild turkey, two woodchucks, a garter snake, some killdeer, cardinals, chickens, cows, horses and goats. The section of trail near Rocheport, like much of the Katy Trail, runs with the Missouri River to one side and scenic bluffs to the other. Most of it is shaded by trees except when passing through farmland. When the trail goes through a town, there’s a depot-style stop with a map and information about the history, commerce and culture of the town. It’s a great way to get to know Missouri. Do other states have trails like the Katy Trail?

A bridge on the MKT Trail, which connects to the Katy Trail.

Michael’s job search could ultimately take us anywhere. If he gets the job he interviewed for yesterday, we’ll eventually be moving to either Illinois or Indiana. What do I hope for? At this point, any job is a blessing. A job doing what he wants is even better. Location isn’t really being considered. If we move somewhere and hate it, we can always move again. It’s not like you’re trapped in one place forever. So I won’t worry. We’ll work toward what we want, and God will open and close the right doors. I’ll start my own job search once we know where he’ll be. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying Missouri. It’s something I’ve done all along without even realizing it.

About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
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