Good Hearts in the Ozarks

We waited out a thunderstorm and got back on old Route 66.  Jeffrey thought of rescuing the first turtle we encountered . . .


. . .  but decided not to risk a dash into the center of the highway.  Later he decided that maybe the turtle knows what it’s doing.  Within three miles we passed two more turtles hanging out by the center line, and saw no squashed turtles in the travel lanes. We did see and smell squashed possums and armadillos, though, all day long.

Mimi and Frans, driving from Tucson to Boston, stopped to talk to us.


Frans & Mimi

Mimi has worked with Central American refugees and knows of Human Rights First!  Frans grew up in Spain and appreciates the importance of welcoming newcomers and protecting refugees.  Mimi gave Jeffrey a granola bar and an apple.  There were warm wishes all around.

At Sullivan, we passed an extraordinary wooden frame for a large building with a curved roof.  Where was the steel?


A worker explained that with new construction techniques, steel was unnecessary.

We saw our first Missouri example of the flag of slavers and traitors, faded and festooning a double-wide.


A U.S. flag was barely visible behind the pink-flowered plant.  Later we saw several pickup trucks with rebel flag decals.

In Oak Grove Village, Norma and Maureen were taking donations for Disabled American Veterans.  Jeffrey had a nice talk with them about all sorts of things, including immigration and refugee issues.  Kind people, they could not help but be sympathetic to the goals of the Ride.


Norma & Maureen

Maureen, who was born in Queens, NY, told Jeffrey to be sure to see the murals as we pedaled through Cuba, Missouri.

Alex, the head of one local veterans’ organization and active in others, stopped by the DAV table and accepted Jeffrey’s offer of picnic lunch.  He listened to Jeffrey explain that Human Rights First provides free lawyers for asylum applicants, who are not “border crashers” but fearful people trying to assert their rights under American law.



Alex likes that asylum applicants are behaving legally.  Another supporter of a fair shake for the persecuted!

There was no mistaking the wares of the shop displaying this large wooden sculpture.


In Bourbon, a plumber’s van followed us closely, then passed us.  The driver waved Jeffrey over.  “I didn’t want to scare you,” he said.


Rainbow Walker & Geno

Geno, the driver, asked about the Ride, gave Jeffrey route advice, then handed Jeffrey cash for “the cause” or to buy a burger or ice cream.  Rainbow Walker (who goes by both names) introduced himself as a Cherokee.  Jeffrey said that in light of Rainbow Walker’s family having been a First Nation in North America, he was curious to know Rainbow Walker’s attitude toward immigrants and refugees.  Rainbow Walker said he himself will be president, and he will appoint Donald Trump as the first billionaire janitor.  I think this means that Rainbow Walker would welcome the refugees that Human Rights First helps to protect.  Rainbow Walker told Jeffrey, “Anyone with a good heart is welcome in the Ozarks!”

Brian, a retired biology teacher, left San Francisco 8 weeks ago.  He is biking Route 66 from LA to Chicago.  We met on a hill.


Brian and Jeffrey exchanged stories and route advice.  Brian asked if Jeffrey had considered taking the Katy Trail.  Jeffrey explained that on the Ride we talk to people, and that Route 66 is where the people are.  We wished one another a good journey.

We saw log-hauling trucks, and logs being processed.  Forests must be nearby.


Our new friend Maureen was right.  Here’s one of the many murals in Cuba.  All we saw were worth a look.


South of Cuba is the World’s Largest Rocking Chair.  And it turns out we are in the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area, where Italian immigrants planted the first vineyards.


On the way home, Phil stopped his car and flagged us down.


Phil has a wonderful job, driving on back roads in the Licking area to deliver UPS packages to people who have become his close friends.  He is very excited about the Ride and very much in favor of helping refugees.  Phil donated all the available cash he had in his wallet, and modestly taught Jeffrey the Parable of the Widow’s Mite.  Oh, how Jeffrey talks!  But he listens a little, too, and learns.  He learned from Phil.

We reached Rolla, which Phil told Jeffrey is very close to the geographic population center of the U.S.


The blue dot marks Rolla.  The gray dot marks our home.

After climbing several steep hills (Rolla contains the divide between the Missouri and the Meremec watersheds), Jeffrey stopped to talk to Tonia and Goldie.

They and their family were fascinated by the Ride and our vehicle.  They believe it’s our duty as Americans and as children of God to help refugees and strangers.  They aren’t sure how their neighbors feel about immigration, which is a much talked-about campaign issue.  Goldie thinks some people are afraid to talk about it.  These brave and principled women are not afraid.  Good for them.  Good for us too.

Jeffrey made his first trip ever to a Sonic drive-in.  (He walked.)  Jarrett brought Jeffrey cheese sandwiches and drinks.  He stayed to talk as long as he could without negelcting his work.


Jarrett, a few credits short of a degree in philosophy, knows about asylum and has informed insights into political and refugee issues.  When he gets his degree and has some financial stability, maybe we’ll meet him on the road.

6 thoughts on “Good Hearts in the Ozarks

  1. Jeffrey’s humanity and diligence continues to amaze me. I marvel at his ability to evoke the good in so many people. It’s probably a reflection of his own virtues.

  2. walking up to order….at a ‘Sonic drive- in” is a bit different than walking up to order at a NYC Shake Shack in Madison Square Park…Enjoy the Ozark treats and stay clear of dead armadillos..

    cousin Joel

  3. It makes my day to read about your encounters, Jeffrey. There are good people everywhere in our country, and you seem to be able to find the good in nearly everyone. This is a gift–to them, and to all of us. Thank you!

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