Pavement Ends by James Baughn en-us Have you picked out your spot for the solar eclipse? The time is fast approaching to decide on your strategy for watching the August 21 solar eclipse. If you live or work within the path of totality, then it makes perfect sense to stay put. You don't have to fight any crowds, worry about getting stuck in traffic, or wait in line at a porta-pottie because nature always calls at the worst possible time. Still, you may want to head north or east where the eclipse will last longer. Or find a place where the scenery is more dramatic so you... Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:56:32 -0500 Visiting Ball Mill Resurgence during a flash flood I've heard the rumor for years: after an exceptionally heavy rain, Ball Mill Resurgence in Perry County will tumble rocks with such ferocity that the sound can be heard for miles away. Well, that's the rumor anyway. It's safe to say that our recent round of flash flooding could be described as an exceptionally heavy rain event. So here was the perfect chance to see if the rumor is true. I reached Ball Mill not long after the rain had ended, a trip that was complicated by... Thu, 25 May 2017 10:46:40 -0500 Don Robinson State Park: Missouri's newest state park that is open I've written recently about Jay Nixon State Park, the most inaccessible (and controversial) state park in Missouri. In January, at around the same time that Nixon's boondoggle was announced, the Department of Natural Resources also announced the opening of another new park, Don Robinson State Park. This park sits at the other end of the spectrum: it's very accessible, featuring an entrance drive with a roundabout and divided highway, and a paved wheelchair accessible trail. This park has... Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:00:00 -0500 The shut-ins hidden in plain sight This blog is called "Pavement Ends" because I typically venture away from paved roads -- and maybe civilization in general -- to find scenic and unusual places. But sometimes the best gems are actually located right along busy highways. The trick is knowing where to stop and look. One of these hidden surprises can be found along Highway 72 between Ironton and Fredericktown. Heading toward Ironton, the road passes Lake Killarney and then crosses a large arch bridge over... Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:00:00 -0600 Jay Nixon State Park (Part 2): Missouri's most inaccessible state park In my last blog I described the surprise naming of Jay Nixon State Park, the resulting controversy, and attempts by lawmakers to fight back. Since then, the story has taken another twist. Within the last few days, the Department of Natural Resources website has been updated with this terse notice about Jay Nixon State Park: "Park Closed. No Access." The news release that announced the park has been deleted from the website as well. So now what? Clearly something is brewing at... Fri, 10 Feb 2017 09:30:00 -0600 Jay Nixon State Park: Missouri's most controversial park Just days before the end of Gov. Jay Nixon's term, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a surprise announcement about the creation of "Jay Nixon State Park" in Reynolds County. The first surprise, of course, was the name. No state park has ever been named after a governor while still in office. This led to the obvious joke: How big is Jay Nixon's ego? Answer: 1,230 acres. But that wasn't the only surprise. The announcement was strangely vague about... Tue, 07 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0600 Five nearby places to look for bald eagles January frequently brings mediocre weather in the form of ice storms, smothering fog, cold rain, and even thundersnow. But when the weather does cooperate, this is the best time of year to dust off the binoculars and go searching for bald eagles. The Highway 3 corridor from McClure to Olive Branch in Illinois offers ample eagle viewing spots just a short drive from Cape Girardeau. Here are some of the best places to check out: Thebes Gap It's rare that a new highway is more... Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:30:00 -0600 Blog without words: Random scenes of the 2016 Christmas Country Church Tour Sat, 17 Dec 2016 22:05:55 -0600 The surprise on Westview Road When driving back from Southern Illinois late in the day, it's fun to take a detour through the Union County Wildlife Refuge to look for deer. It can be hit or miss, though, as the fields along the road may contain abundant deer… or squat. I've found another scenic drive with even better deer viewing: Westview Road in Massac County. Although located farther from Cape Girardeau, this country lane southeast of Vienna offers the chance to see exceptionally large herds of deer... Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:00:00 -0600 Welcome to the Fall Duller Tour Thanks to the abnormally warm weather during the last several weeks, the fall color this season has been a disappointment. Some trees have simply dumped their green leaves without even a hint of color, while other trees have managed to change color -- a dull shade of brown. However, some hints of real color have emerged this week, so we may yet reach a "peak" of foliage soon. The problem is that this weekend is part of firearms deer season in both Missouri and Illinois, so anybody going... Thu, 17 Nov 2016 21:52:04 -0600 Blog without words: Union Pacific No. 844 steam locomotive makes brief stop in Scott City Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:29:57 -0500 Union Pacific steam locomotive passing through on Wednesday Five years ago, the Union Pacific No. 844 steam locomotive made a stop at Cape Girardeau, drawing large crowds. On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the same locomotive will be traveling through the area, but this visit will be fleeting, with only brief stops at Chester, Gorham, Wolf Lake, Scott City, and Bloomfield before spending one night at Dexter. The locomotive is headed to Memphis for the grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 22, of the new Big River Crossing, a walkway attached to the Harahan Bridge... Sun, 16 Oct 2016 23:09:57 -0500 Possibly coming soon to Cape Girardeau: The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Ste. Genevieve has been in the news lately as the pieces are coming together to establish a national park there. A feasibility study conducted by the National Park Service highly recommends the new park, and bills are pending in Congress to make it happen. Meanwhile, the National Park Service also has good news for Cape Girardeau. The agency has recently published another study that supports extending the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail to the east, bringing it through... Wed, 07 Sep 2016 09:00:00 -0500 The Capahas in 1916: When the ceremonial first pitch actually counted We all know the drill. You arrive early to a St. Louis Cardinals game to make sure you don't miss out on getting a Yadier Molina garden gnome or a Bo Hart bobblehead or whatever the team is giving away that night to the first 30,000 fans with a paid admission. Your reward for getting to the stadium early is to watch the pre-game festivities, including the ceremonial first pitch. And then the second ceremonial first pitch. And another. Finally, when the fourth VIP takes the field... Wed, 17 Aug 2016 14:00:00 -0500 The mystery of sunflowers July weather is awfully brutal for outside exploring, but there is one place in Cape Girardeau County that is worth visiting even on a ridiculously hot day: the sunflower patches at Maintz Wildlife Area near Oak Ridge. This year, several acres of sunflowers have been planted at multiple locations around the conservation area. I've been trying to capture the perfect photo at Maintz for several years, but I've been thwarted each time by a different problem. Either the sunflowers... Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:00:00 -0500 What's up with the extra "e" in Sainte Genevieve? Sainte Genevieve has been making headlines with a bill introduced into Congress to establish a new unit of the national park system: the Ste. Genevieve National Historic Site. The final feasibility study, released a few weeks ago, states that the town "stands alone in terms of the character, quality, quantity, and rarity of its resources." Of particular interest are the French-style vertical log houses. North America only has five remaining poteaux-en-terre (post-in-the-ground)... Fri, 03 Jun 2016 17:00:00 -0500 Where the pavement has ended for over 90 years I've written before about the old highway between Charleston and Birds Point in Mississippi County. Although portions of the road were destroyed in the aftermath of the 2011 flood, some sections of vintage concrete pavement from 1921 are still intact. More recently, I've discovered that the New Madrid Floodway is home to a pair of other historic concrete roads, and these landmarks have a peculiar feature: they are only nine feet wide. Since the pavement was only wide enough... Fri, 15 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0500 The daffodils are here Spring is certainly in the air as the daffodils are in full bloom. Taking a drive through the Oak Ridge area, I spotted daffodils along almost every road. Here is a quick gallery showing where to find them. ** New Salem Church and Cemetery, Route AA, Daisy ** Route D south of Oak Ridge ** Cape County Road 459 ** Route E near I-55 ** Sargent's Chapel, Bollinger County Road 234 (see my previous blog about the mile-long stretch of daffodils that a local family planted decades... Sun, 13 Mar 2016 22:52:17 -0500 What's it like to have Garden of the Gods to yourself? Every time I've been to Garden of the Gods in Illinois, the crowds have been intense. Visitors arrive from across the country, and even the world, to the tune of around 150,000 people per year. It's easy to see why: the views from the Observation Trail are spectacular, but only require a short walk. Camel Rock, the most popular landmark along the trail, will even be featured soon on a U.S. quarter design. On Saturday, with nearly 8 inches of snow on the ground, the crowds were... Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:55:28 -0600 Cape's floodwall -- as envisioned in 1954 The latest round of record-setting flooding on the Mississippi River provided another reminder about the usefulness of the downtown floodwall. It also, however, provided a stark reminder that some parts of Cape Girardeau are not protected by floodwalls and levees, particularly the Red Star neighborhood. That's not for a lack of trying, though. In 1950, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to develop a flood protection plan for Cape. The Corps envisioned a series of levees and... Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:30:00 -0600