Travel and Reads : Mark Twain and Hannibal, MO


 

So I’ve decided to devote a few posts each year to my geeky booknerd travel escapades. Normally I just review books and keep it simple, but lately my wanderlust has gotten a little out of control (blame it on my 30s creeping in) and I know I’m not the only nerd out there who thinks literary travel is the best idea ever.

Last summer my husband dragged me on a 20+ hour road trip to visit his grandparents, who live by Lake Michigan (we live in Colorado), and I was originally totally opposed to the idea (what is there to see in Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana on the route between? NOTHING.). But I decided to be a good sport and put my best foot forward. I logged onto Google Maps to look at the route and noticed some little gold stars only a little skip from the route. At one point I had saved the Mark Twain Boyhood Home, Riverboat, and Mark Twain Caves in hopes that one day I would visit them. With a little prodding, my husband agreed to stay the night in Hannibal, MO and hit a few geek-out spots before finishing our trip to Michigan. That little side trip turned out to be the highlight of 2015 for me!

Hannibal is a small town, everything is very green and the mighty Mississippi runs through it. Believe it or not, I was bummed that I couldn’t stay longer, apparently the city offers Ghost Tours at night, Riverboat rides, and there’s a lighthouse you can visit. I saw these places but my husband wanted to get on the road so our visit had to be limited to top picks.

So first off we visited the Mark Twain Boyhood Home. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) came from a family that was pretty well-to-do and the house is near the river. Visitors can imagine Huckleberry Finn climbing aboard a raft, running from the law or heading out for adventure. The possibilities are endless and it’s easy to see where the author got his greatest ideas.

Next we walked down to the river, which was swollen and muddy thanks to serious rainfall recently, but somehow that made it even more “mighty” and amazing. Definitely the widest river I’ve ever seen in person. We could see the Mark Twain Riverboat docked on the shore.

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It began to rain, so we ran to the truck and headed to the Mark Twain Caves for a tour. Let me recommend to everyone that athletic shoes that can get dirty are probably best. I wore sandals and it wasn’t pretty. As you travel through the caves the guide gives detailed description of Tom Sawyer’s adventures and the  inspiration Clemens derived from playing in the never-ending caves as a boy.  The icing on the cake was a brief mention that the outlaw Jesse James and his crew hid out in the back of the caves after robbing a local bank, and they even signed the wall. All-in-all, we all loved the cave tour and I highly recommend it to all of you adventure-loving booknerds.

Before you visit, be sure to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures Huckleberry Finn, if you can’t get your hands on even more Mark Twain literature! Look forward to more booknerd travel posts in the future and please feel free to comment if you have any awesome literary travel spots to share!

 

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