Epic Road Trip…nude….
…Missouri welcomes, as does every state. A long expanse of trees covers the countryside. There are national and state lands preserved for the future, bringing back the heritage that has been logged away. I had set up for some camping and hiking exploration in the Mark Twain National Forest, but hearing the voices of old friends on the phone, changed my mind. Follow the heart.
We stop for ice cream and gas along the highway. In the parking lot, there is a young man with the lid up on his old pickup truck, sitting with car trouble. Five Amish men in their traditional dress, black suspenders, gather around him watching. After a while, I see a black horse carriage trotting away down the highway. No motor troubles.
We turn off of the Interstate as the shadows begin to get longer. The two lane road winds through forest and farmland.
French names are on roads and towns, left from the days before the Louisiana Purchase. We’re going to visit friends and relatives in Burfordville and Cape Girardeau, both in the mid-western heart of the Mississippi River’s charm. I remember back to a land of small towns, with red brick buildings with small white pillars.
Fireflies decorate the evening under the dark of tree canopies.
We sit up late with my lifelong friends. It’s been years since we were together.
In the morning, we are immediately placed into a historical sense at Burfordville. A mill dating back before the Civil War and the old buildings of the town that it created, charm us.
The old long covered bridge leads to a road that looks out of a Bonny and Clyde movie, crosses the river.
The local antique store is called “The River Runs Through it.”
We find that this is humor. Behind the porch swing lines mark the height of past floods.
It is green countryside in rolling hills. We set into daily life, helping a neighbor set up an above ground pool to surprise his wife. Afterward we are invited into his garage/man-cave and refresh on his old couches with its satellite TV.
Our nudity is suspended, choosing to defer to the sensibilities of our hosts. In the past, we have enjoyed a hot tub together and they gave my then wife “you go girl” encouragement to claim her right to be comfortably nude in her own house. That however, was decades ago. A couple of comments gave me the sense that age has put a damper on them. There is sadly some body shame. We wouldn’t want them to feel uncomfortable in their own home. We also have plans to explore the countryside together. It just feels like it would be in the way to go to the trouble to break that ice. Our lives and relationships are more than just the determination to be free range naturists.
We spend a few days touring, feasting at a local homemade pie shop, enjoy some local music, look at architecture and reminisce old times.
Old School Naked Mississippi Sense:
This was where Mark Twain grew up Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. In these old buildings and towns, I could see the characters of his books walking about, down the streets and into the woods.
“Huck Finn, Chapter 19.” Jim and Huck are making their way to Cairo on a Mississippi raft:
“Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and talked about all kinds of things—we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us—the new clothes Buck’s folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn’t go much on clothes, nohow.”
I’d read these books as a boy, relishing their freedom and wondering what it could be like without clothes as a concern. I lived freely with access to the James River of Virginia in its heat and humidity. I rarely wore any more than shorts in the summers in Virginia. I identified with those boys.
(My Very Old Copy of Huck Finn)
I found on the web a comment by a modern day rafter, which tells of the goofy shenanigans and perspectives of current propriety:
“This is not lost on all the people when I tell them about what I was doing on this river… People always mention old Huckleberry Finn. (I just re-read the book… to have a better opinion their comments about their memories from having read it in middle school.) People seem to be all over the place about this book. Some mention that this book is about hidden homosexuality, or Man-boy love, or even just how it’s kind of weird how they spent so much time naked. Well, having basically drifted down the exact same river… in the same time of year… I know exactly why they lounged around naked for days. The answer, so simple… it is just really freaking hot. (and humid)” 1
So, one day, we explored some little known history, down close to the Mississippi where it will flood sometimes. Across the road where it runs along an old railroad track, a friend owns a property carved into the side of a rocky steep hill.
Behind the overgrowth of bushes, is the mouth of a cave. As we approach the entrance, we can feel the cool air escaping and roaming across our limbs. It has been carved out and supported with stone masonry.
The story goes that there was a man named Anheuser who used to use it to store beer, back in the day. One day, a Mr. Busch came by and invited him to St. Louis for a business venture. No doubt over a couple of German brews. Or, so a Mississippi story goes.
The next step of our day is into the Mississippi River. DF and I hike off into the nearby forest to a place less affected by modernity. Massive old trees hold onto the earth against floods and erosion with twisted roots.
Here, sandy mud gives slipperiness into the river’s brown waters as they lap onto shore.
Just for a few minutes we wander to get a better feel of, “What was it like in Huck’s times?”
Things around here can get pretty big. We travel downstream to a piece of geology that was first mentioned by Lewis and Clark. Certainly every river boat crewman knows this landmark north of Cairo.
Sitting here is a curious woman on her cell phone sitting on a picnic table. She is loud and doing most of the talking. She is cussing, saying horrible things to someone, about some relative of theirs. It is something nobody would ever want to hear and nobody can ignore. How long can one person rant about one other person? After around 20 minutes of waiting for this banter to end, we give up and drive off. “Do you think that she was just waiting for us to leave so she could smoke some more meth?”
I turn to DF, “She is offensive like that to anyone and everyone, but I’d be the one arrested for being nude in this state for disturbing the peace.” Lips pursed, she nods her head in agreement.
There is a trail up to a promontory looking out through the Mississippi forest. It is lush, diverse and green. I wonder how many different distinct shapes these green leaves can have? I am in awe of the height of these long tall trees. It is as though bean stalks rise into the clouds.
The deep forests, the muddy banks and steep hills, give me a sense of life 150 years ago for the naked play and adventure of boys.
In Part 7, we’re on our way to the Jungles of Ohio for some naked hiking.
I ban be found most days on the forum of FreeRangeNaturism.com Its a good safe site to discuss anything free range, or just naturism.
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