We spent the morning crossing Missouri on I-44. I associate this state with great religiosity. When I was still a guidance counselor and had a senior interested in a Christian college, we often sent applications to the Show-Me state. At some exits on I-44 we saw informational signs for multiple Bible colleges in the vicinity. But there is a yin and yang to this area. As we diagonaled from St. Louis in the east across to Joplin in the southwest, we also saw many facilities designed to appeal to the trucker traffic - adult book stores, video parlors, gentleman's clubs, topless joints, etc. Often on the perimeter of these establishments, a billboard was perched lamenting the ills of pornography sponsored by some religious institution. The first amendment personified.
Once I-44 entered Oklahoma it became a tollway. After we drove about forty miles we were charged $8.50. Towing a trailer means that we are charged more than a car, but this seemed rather steep. Two miles later we left the tollway and showed our receipt to the attendant. She handed us $3.75 back. Go figure!
Before we left home we heard about grass fires burning out of control in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Signs on the tollway warned us not to drive into smoke. That does seem like a good idea, but when you are on the tollway you don't have many choices except to throw your truck into reverse. We began to see the smoke after we left the tollway. In some spots the grass was black from earlier conflagrations. McAlester, where we are staying tonight, is 22 inches of rain in deficit. I'm so happy to see blue skies and temperatures reaching 60, but for the people here a cold rain would be a real blessing. We feel lucky to have found a place to camp tonight. Much of Oklahoma belongs to the Cherokee nation and is quite undeveloped. Less people live in the entire state than live in Chicago proper. The clerk who checked us in to our campground also checks guests into the Motel Eight. Very efficient when workers and facilities are in short supply.
With so few residents the newscasters on the evening television news struggle to have enough stories to fill half an hour. After a lengthy discussion of how to handle the grass fires, attention was turned to the murder of a show pig valued at $250. Who could have committed such a heinous deed?