North through the Ozarks

After a night in Joplin, I drove east on Interstate 44, entering the Missouri Ozarks; turning north at Lebanon, I crossed the rugged plateau and returned to Columbia.

The Missouri portion of the Ozarks is a plateau of Ordovician dolomite, lifted during the Pennsylvanian Period and dissected by a vast network of streams to produce a maze of ridges and valleys.  Known for numerous caves and springs, the Ozarks also offer broad ridgetop views, scenic cascades and clear, cool streams.  A host of State Parks and nature preserves are spaced across the plateau, providing access for hikers, naturalists, equestrians and fishermen.

This morning, autumn colors painted the woodlands, enhanced by a bright October sun.  Unfortunately, a billboard blight, common throughout Missouri, marred the natural beauty in some areas.  One would think that a State with such a fabulous diversity of natural ecosystems and an attractive network of parks and preserves would join the national movement to remove these gaudy ads from our roadsides; it's difficult to enjoy the scenery when the massive faces of realtors and insurance agents are grinning from the forest.