Freedom Rock Tour comes to Saint Robert, Missouri

By Laura Huffman

Saint Robert, Missouri Mayor George Lauritson couldn’t imagine a better location to host a Freedom Rock than Pulaski County’s patriotic “Gateway to Fort Leonard Wood.” During a previous tenure as Mayor, in 2002, Lauritson brought the tanks that are displayed throughout the city to town. He had also envisioned a “Military Rock Art Park” that displayed crests and symbols from units attached to Ft. Leonard Wood. In his most recent term of service as Mayor he has been able to turn that vision into reality at a location between Interstate 44 and St. Robert Boulevard.

Saint Robert's Military Rock Display

Saint Robert’s Military Rock Display. Image courtesy of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Michael Myers, now a Saint Robert alderman, noticed that the military rock art reminded him of Freedom Rocks that he had seen across Iowa. Myers approached City Council and after particulars were hammered out between city officials and the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, it was announced that Saint Robert would be the location of Missouri’s third Freedom Rock.

The Freedom Rock project began in Greenfield, Iowa after Sorensen watched “Saving Private Ryan.” Sorensen decided that he would cover up the graffiti on a large rock beside the highway near town with a mural thanking America’s veterans. Since 1999 Sorensen has returned to the original Greenfield Freedom Rock and painted a new tribute each year before Memorial Day. The Greenfield Freedom Rock is especially poignant as veterans have asked to have their ashes mixed into Sorensen’s paint.

The Freedom Rock 2017

The Freedom Rock, Greenfield, Iowa, 2017 rendition. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Sorensen’s paint isn’t the typical “off the rack” paint found at local hardware and home improvement stores. The natural pigment used in some of his blue hued paint is mined in Afghanistan and the finished paint can cost as much as $600 a gallon. The canvas for Sorensen’s Freedom Rock at Saint Robert is a slab of Missouri limestone, quarried at Laquey, in Pulaski County, measuring 9 feet by 10 feet at its widest point. The unpainted rock slab has a retail value of approximately $12,000. The limestone rock is set in 12 inches of concrete and a structure has been built over the stone to help protect it from the elements.

Many of the Freedom Rocks use a granite slab as Sorensen’s canvas. He states that Saint Robert’s porous limestone Freedom Rock creates challenges and will give it a different look than some of the ones that he has previously painted. His methodology remains the same though—a quick “scrape” of Missouri’s military history for inspiration and then sketching his vision directly onto the rock itself in pencil before bringing the detailed work to life with vivid colors.

Saint Robert’s Freedom Rock will feature Medal of Honor recipient General Leonard Wood and the Rough Rider era. It also will pay tribute to Fort Wood’s history as a training installation with a scene of a Drill Sergeant interacting with soldier-in-training during basic combat training. The reverse side of the limestone will depict “The Spirit of Pulaski County,” a North American P-51 Mustang aircraft that was purchased for the World War II effort  during the third War Loan Drive. The “skinny side” of the slab will be painted with the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross and the top of the rock will be draped in a painted American flag.

Sorensen’s Freedom Rocks are crafted with endurance in mind. Other than the original Freedom Rock, he does not return to repaint them. The quality of materials that he uses and three protective sealants, including one layer of vandal frustrating sealer, should protect the vividness of his art work and images for forty years.

Sorensen is excited to unveil his latest Freedom Rock in Saint Robert, Missouri’s second Purple Heart City. He noted that motor coaches in Iowa plan day trips that center around visiting four or five of his rocks. “Freedom Rock groupies” travel to visit each installation. Karen Hood, CTIS, Military Reunion Coordinator for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau commented that reunion groups will especially appreciate the patriotic tribute. Leisure travelers planning a Freedom Rock themed road trip will be able to explore Missouri’s northeast (Maryville) to the stunning Ozarks of the south central region (Saint Robert) before traveling to southeast riverside town of Cape Girardeau.

Missouri's First Freedom Rock, Maryville, Missouri

Missouri’s First Freedom Rock, Maryville, Missouri. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Cape Girardeau Freedom Rock

Missouri’s Second Freedom Rock, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Mayor Lauritson and the City Council plan to continue the celebration of Saint Robert’s patriotism after the Freedom Rock is completed. The brick chimney from the former U.S.O. is being rebuilt alongside Missouri Boulevard and the site will play host to another rock- this one recognizing Missouri’s Medal of Honor recipients as well as the Show Me State’s missing in action service members. Lauritson would also like for that area to include displays honoring the Navy and Marines, and possibly a fighter plane to symbolize the Air Force.

An official unveiling ceremony for Saint Robert’s Freedom Rock will be announced soon.

For more things to see and do in Pulaski County, Missouri, please visit http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com

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This Week Around Pulaski County USA!

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Events for the week of August 21-August 27, 2017

August 26- 1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum
What: One of only two remaining Route 66 period courthouses in Missouri. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where: On The Square, Waynesville
When: 10 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE admission, donations accepted
Contact: Pulaski County Museum & Historical Society (Denise Seevers)-573.855.3644

1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum

August 26- Old Stagecoach Stop Museum
What: Pulaski County’s oldest building has served as a private residence, a stagecoach stop, a Civil War hospital, and a hotel on Historic Route 66. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where: On The Square, Waynesville
When: 10 am until 4 pm
Cost: FREE admission, donations accepted
Contact: Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation (Jeanie Porter)- 573.336.3561

Old Stagecoach Stop

August 26- Tenth Annual Shrine BBQ Cookoff
What: Family-friendly fun and barbecue competition.
Where: 26920 Shrines Road, Waynesville
When: 1:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE admission, $8 plate (adult), $5 plate (ages 6-12), $12 all you can eat
Contact: Pulaski County Ft. Wood Shrine Club (Kevin Cordry)- 573.586.9801

BBQ Cook Off

Looking Ahead:

September 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, & 30- Haunted River Float, Waynesville
September 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30- 1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum, Waynesville
September 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30- Old Stagecoach Stop Museum, Waynesville
September 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30- Paranormal Investigations of Historic Talbot House, Waynesville
September 2-Railroad Days, Crocker
September 9- Shrimpfestival & Fly-In, Dixon
September 15 & 16- Cow Days, Dixon
September 16- 8th Annual Kiwanis Gun, Knife, & Archery Show, Saint Robert
September 20- Military Vehicle Preservation Association Route 66 Convoy, Saint Robert
September 22, 23, 29, & 30- Haunted Hill, Waynesville
September 23, 24, & 30- Uncle Buck’s Pumpkin Patch, Dixon

Love Halloween? Celebrate early with our “Ultimate Halloween in September Road Trip Guide!”

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For more event listings in Pulaski County USA please visit our online calendar at: http://tinyurl.com/PulaskiCountyUSAEvents or www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA

Roadhouse Bar & Grill- Seriously Good Times

By Laura Huffman

Roadhouse Bar & Grill owner Colby Schnetzler takes having fun seriously. Schnetlzer, a United States Army veteran, has been the master of ceremonies at the RB&G near Laquey, Missouri since 2009.

RB&G is a working man’s (and woman’s) blue collar, laid back, casual roadhouse that is tops when it comes to pub grub and live music. It isn’t uncommon to see the parking lot full of Harleys, Jeeps, and pickup trucks. The place is usually packed with hard-working folks spending their hard earned money on honest and authentic food. Don’t be surprised if you see a minivan or three in the crowd—busy soccer moms often bring the family in for a filling meal, or to grab a BOGO burger or pizza pie to take home for the evening meal.

Less than a mile from an early alignment of Route 66, Roadhouse Bar & Grill also attracts those exploring the Mother Road. Theresa Goodrich, author of the upcoming book “Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1”, toured Pulaski County with her husband, Jim, during their cross country trek. When asked her thoughts on RB&G she commented “Roadhouse Bar & Grill was one of our favorite stops on our cross-country road trip. The wings were big and juicy and the pizza was absolutely loaded with toppings.” Goodrich, who is based near Chicago, IL., further added “The only thing wrong with the place is that it’s not closer [to home]. I’d love to be able to listen to some live music on that epic deck and dive into those wings every weekend.”

Roadhouse Bar & Grill is a local favorite for pizza in Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Theresa Goodrich for Drive By Towns. Used with permission.

Roadhouse Bar & Grill is a local favorite for pizza in Pulaski County, Missouri. Photo by Theresa Goodrich for Drive By Towns. Used with permission.

Indeed, Roadhouse Bar & Grill’s epic outdoor deck is a local hot spot during Spring, Summer, and Fall. Families and friends gather around the tables to share food and laughter. Motorcyclists congregate here after a ride with a cold drink. Local bands play their hearts out to enthusiastic crowds on the outdoor deck. It is an epic deck.

Wings by Theresa Goodrich Drive By Towns

RB& G’s wings are also a hit with everyone who tries them. Image by Theresa Goodrich for Drive By Towns. Used with permission.

RB&G is also a hot spot in the live band scene. It isn’t just for local talent though. Schnetzler has brought in top notch entertainment from across Missouri and from coast to coast during his tenure.  Moccasin Creek, Confederate Railroad, Moonshine Bandits, The LACS, and Whitey Morgan and the 78’s have all stomped their feet on the RB&G stage.

Cold beverages, delicious food, friendly and outgoing staff, and the hottest bands all add up to a seriously good time at the Roadhouse.

Menu and prices subject to change.

Menu and prices subject to change.

Roadhouse Bar & Grill Menu Page 2

Menu and prices subject to change.

Follow Roadhouse Bar & Grill on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/roadhousemo for upcoming band announcements and food specials.

For more to see and do in Pulaski County, Missouri visit www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com.

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Looking for Eclipse lodging? Discover Pulaski County USA!

Looking for lodging near the path of  totality of the Great American Eclipse? Check out Pulaski County USA!

By Laura Huffman

When I was youngster, 35 years or so ago, I read Illustrated Classics Editions’ version of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” All these years later, I can’t tell you much about the classic novel. But, I can vividly describe the scene that Twain painted of Hank Morgan, a time traveler, being tied to the stake to be burned alive as King Arthur commanded. Hank, having remembered the date of the solar eclipse from his history studies, and realizing that the knowledge can save his life, threatens to black out the sun if the flames creep closer. As the flames get closer to consuming the hapless hero the sky darkens and King Arthur relents. Hank is released from the stake and the sun is released from the inky blackness that had enveloped it. Hank goes on to enrich the Kingdom of Camelot and torment Merlin, the magician, for the remainder of the novel.

Eclipse 2017 NASA

Courtesy of NASA

In 2017 not many people on the planet would be fooled by Hank’s threat to black out the sun. Quite the opposite. People across the globe have been planning for August 21, the date of “The Great American Eclipse” for almost a year or more. Missouri, known as the “Show Me State” is expecting millions of travelers to descend on the cities, towns, and villages that are located in the path of the solar eclipse. The closer an area is to the center line- the longest duration of darkness (almost three minutes in some locations!) the more crowded you can expect it to be. Many Chambers of Commerce, Tourism Bureaus, and civic organizations are planning festivals, parades, and other events for the expected millions of visitors.

As the word continues to spread more and more hotels, motels, Airbnb’s, and campgrounds are filling up. Some locations have already announced that ALL of their rooms are booked and reserved. Don’t let this discourage you from making your eclipse plans. Pulaski County, home to Fort Leonard Wood, offers over 3,400 rooms and is less than 70 miles from the path of the eclipse! Cuba, nicknamed the “mural city”, will be dark for over a minute and a half, and is only 45 minutes west of Saint Robert on Interstate 44. Sullivan, which will have two and a half minutes of totality, is just an hour west on Interstate 44. Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri, will experience 2 minutes and 29 seconds of totality and lies only 71 miles north of Saint Robert via Highway 17 and Highway 54.

Don’t miss the Great American Eclipse August 21st (it could save your life someday if you accidentally time travel like Hank!) and enjoy Pulaski County’s hospitality before heading to your astronomical adventure! Book your room today!

Eclipse Poster NASA

Courtesy of NASA

Make a long weekend of it by exploring and floating Pulaski County USA! Home to heroes, history, and Route 66!

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*Drive times may vary on the day of the eclipse. Be prepared for congested roadways and increased travel times.

*Never look at the partial phases of the eclipse without proper eye protection.

Saint Robert, Missouri Taco Trail

Tacos aren’t relegated to only Tuesday’s or Cinco De Mayo in Pulaski County! Crunch your way through Saint Robert with our handy Taco Trail!

Our favorite tacos are crispy, delicious, and portable! Image by, and courtesy of, J.D. Hancock.

Our favorite tacos are crispy, delicious, and portable! Image by, and courtesy of, J.D. Hancock.

LA FAMILIA MEXICAN RESTAURANT
1018 Missouri Avenue
Saint Robert, MO 65584
573-336-3339

La Familia has been the answer to taco cravings in the Fort Leonard Wood area since 1998. They serve a hunger satisfying taco platter that has your choice of three crispy corn or soft flour tortillas tacos. You decide if you would like those filled with seasoned ground beef, shredded chicken, or shredded beef. They are topped with lettuce, cheese, and diced tomatoes and served with refried beans and rice. The also have top notch tacos de carne asada.

by pixabay user savortonight

Image by, and courtesy of Pixabay user savortonight.

CANTINA BRAVO MEXICAN GRILL
151 St. Robert Bouleavrd, Suite 4
Saint Robert, MO 65584
573-336-7776

Cantina Bravo Mexican Grill quickly became a favorite with locals and visitors in Saint Robert. Their menu covers the taco basics: taco salad, fajita taco salad, and shrimp tacos. They also serve tacos de carne asada on either corn or flour tortillas. The tortilla is then stuffed with chopped steak, onions, and cilantro and served with beans, pico de gallo, and tomatillo sauce. Seafood lovers should try tacos de pescado La Paz- hand battered fish filet strips are cooked “to crispy perfection” and topped with pico de gallo salsa. The dish is served with rice and a creamy chipotle sauce on the side.

by flckr user jeffrey w.jpg

EL JIMADOR
220 Marshall Drive, Suite 6
Saint Robert, MO 65584
573-336-7555

Jimmy’s” has been loved by locals for many years. The restaurant has traditional beef or chicken tacos a la carte. They also offer a fajita version of their taco salad- a crisp flour tortilla filled with fajita style steak or chicken sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and topped with cheese sauce, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa and tomato. Steak lovers will savor an order of tacos de carne asada.

by pixabay user dolvita108

Image by, and courtesy of, Pixabay user dolvita108.

EL CABRITO MEXICAN RESTAURANT
560 Old Route 66
Saint Robert, MO 65584
573-336-4373

In addition to tasty tacos, El Cabrito is known for their table-side guacamole. The restaurant offers a taco salad, seafood tacos, tacos supremos, and other favorites. Tacos a la Plancha are steak or chicken that has been grilled on a round, flat metal plate. This cooking method originated in Spain and is a precursor to the flattop grill. El Cabrito serves their tacos a la Plancha in a soft shell topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese. One of their most requested dishes is Tacos Al Cabrito. Served in a flour shell these tacos are filled with steak that was grilled with onions and then covered with cheese sauce. They are served with rice, lettuce, sour cream, and tomato.

Image by, and courtesy of, Pixabay user stina_magnus.

Image by, and courtesy of, Pixabay user stina_magnus.

CANCUN MEXICAN GRILL
890 Missouri Avenue, Suite 6
Saint Robert, MO 65584
573-336-8585

Cancun Mexican Grill‘s menu is inspired from the coast of Mexico. The restaurant serves half a dozen takes on the traditional taco:

Fajita Taco- Grilled seasoned steak or chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and cheese.

Pollo Taco- Lime marinated grilled chicken breast, topped with cabbage and lime chipotle mayonnaise. Served with pico de gallo salsa, and sour cream on the side.

Carne Azada Taco– Grilled seasoned angus steak, onions, cilantro, and green tomatillo salsa.

Ocean Taco– Your choice of either fish or shrimp topped with cabbage, lime chipotle mayonnaise, and pico de gallo. Sour cream is served on the side.

Pastor Taco– Grilled marinated pork with onions, pineapple, and cilantro.

Carnitas Taco– Tender pork with onions and cilantro.

Image by, and courtesy of, flckr user larl-martin skontorp.

Image by, and courtesy of, flckr user larl-martin skontorp.

For more dining options in Pulaski County USA please visit www.pulaskicountyusa.com

Four Free Homeschool Field Trip Ideas in Waynesville, MO

Image by Nick Amoscato

Compiled by Laura Huffman

Learning is a lifelong process. I recently had a 93 year old woman happily tell me “I learn something new every day!” Learning is also fluid and is not only confined to a classroom. As a child’s teacher you can provide depth to your lesson plan with hands-on interactive field trips. Fortunately, for the sake of the homeschool families bank account, these trips do not have to be pricey or even within an urban setting. Waynesville, located in the Ozark Mountains of Mid-Missouri, is a prime example of a small town field trip friendly destination. A field trip to Waynesville can cover Native American history, pioneer history, Civil War history, World War I and II history, geology, hydrology, architecture, geography, engineering, transportation, nature, and art, among other subjects.

1. Route 66 has been described as America’s largest open air museum. Waynesville lines both sides of the legendary highway that runs through it. A highlight is the downtown bridge that spans the Roubidoux River. The bridge was constructed in 1923 and is eligible to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. A sidewalk allows foot traffic to safely cross- and gives a bird’s eye view of the river below. (Tip- Pulaski County Tourism Bureau offers a free turn-by-turn guide of Route 66 through the area, including Waynesville’s segment.)

Draw or paint a picture of Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Draw or paint a picture of Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

2. Trail of Tears Memorial is a thought provoking, poignant testimonial to an ugly, horrific event in American history. The memorial includes seven story boards, installed by the National Park Service, City of Waynesville, & the Missouri Trail of Tears Association, beginning at the natural spring, and ending just north of the downtown bridge at the old river crossing. The trail is hard surfaced and wheelchair accessible. (Tip- The trail continues to Waynesville Park. Bring a picnic basket and discuss what you saw and learned over lunch.)

Story boards reveal the tragic tale of the Trail of Tears at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Story boards reveal the tragic tale of the Trail of Tears at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

3. Pulaski County Museum is located in the 1903 courthouse building overlooking Route 66. This building housed Pulaski County’s government for over 85 years and was designed by Missouri State Architect Henry H. Hohenschild. The upstairs courtroom is almost original to the day that it was built. Exhibits showcase items from the everyday life of Pulaski Countians. (Tip- The museum is open each Saturday April through September from 10 am until 4 pm. Admission is free. Group tours by arrangement.)

History inside! Pulaski County Museum in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman.

History inside! Pulaski County Museum in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman.

4. Old Stagecoach Stop is located on the downtown square, just a short walk from the Pulaski County Museum. This building has been a Waynesville landmark since the 1850’s and was used by the Union Army as a hospital during the Civil War. Each room in the two story building represents a different use and era in the building’s history. (Tip- Admission is free and the museum keeps the same hours as Pulaski County Museum. Group tours can be arranged. A wealth of information is included on their website.)

Several eras of Waynesville's history are represented at the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman.

Several eras of Waynesville’s history are represented at the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, MO. Image by Laura Huffman.

Bonus- We all know that play plays an important role in children’s development. Waynesville will be opening their Little Heroes Playground, an all-accessible play area Spring 2017.

To plan your homeschool field trip to Waynesville, request your free Visitors Guide and Historic Walking Tour brochure from Pulaski County Tourism Bureau by calling 573-336-6355. The Bureau also offers an area geocaching brochure.

All-American Ride in Pulaski County USA

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By Laura Huffman and Beth Wiles for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau

If your bike could talk it would ask, maybe even demand, to ride to Pulaski County. Home to legendary highways, scenic Ozark byways, timeless rivers, and iconic roadhouses, this day trip defines the classic American ride.

Starting in Saint Robert follow Route 66 east through Devils Elbow to J Highway and catch the north outer road east towards Jerome. D Highway winds through this town that was platted for General John C. Fremont at the close of the Civil War. The ninety-degree curve marks the beginning of your climb up Dixon Hill- terrain that has challenged railroad surveyors for over 150 years. At Dogpatch Corner turn right onto Highway 28 towards Dixon, or left to see what’s shaking at Wooden Nickel Saloon.

In Dixon, if you are hankering for home-style cooking pop into the Homeplate Bar and Grill on Elm Street. Returning to the road, turn west onto 4th Street/C Highway/Highway 133 towards Crocker. 133 meanders lazily along the Burlington Northern railroad tracks. You may recognize the rolling prairie landscape from indie movie favorite Dystopia: 2013.

Image by Brandon Giesbrecht

Image by Brandon Giesbrecht

Turn left onto Highway 17 and lean in as it snakes you through Crocker and into Waynesville, the home of Hoppers Pub and sixty-six different beers on tap.

Traveling west from Waynesville’s historic downtown square you will cross the “roaring” Roubidoux River atop the storied Route 66 arch bridge. T Highway careens through the Gasconade River valley before leveling off at the old Swedish settlement of Swedeborg. Turn left back onto Highway 133 and chase the train’s whistle into Richland- home of the Chopper Shop and local favorite, The Burger Stand.

Thumbs Up

Image by J. Aaron Farr

Leaving Richland, south on Highway 7, the road cuts a swath through a Gasconade river bend and plays hide and seek with itself in a section atop the rugged bluffs before diving into the river’s valley. Reward yourself with cold beverages at Roadhouse Bar & Grill– the “other” headquarters of Mid America Freedom Rally.

A short side trip off of Route 66 at Interstate 44 Exit 156 (Waynesville) onto H Highway will take you to pay your respects to our American veterans at Missouri State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood.

Route 66 east returns you to Devils Elbow on the Big Piney River. Shake off the road dust and settle into the Elbow Inn’s mouthwatering BBQ. Cap off your tour with a trophy picture of your scoot on the all-American 1923 steel bridge with the stunning Sugar Bowl bluffs in the background.

All-American Ride in Pulaski County, Missouri

All-American Ride in Pulaski County, Missouri

For more ideas of things to see and do in Pulaski County stop by the Visitors Center in Saint Robert or online at www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com