Tuesday, February 14, 2006

All I Ever Wanted

The best vacation I've ever 'had' was a trip to Hannibal and then Columbia MO last year. It was Mary and I's first trip anywhere. She was three months pregnant with what I still assume to be my daughter. Columbia was a forgone destination because my dear friend Glenn lives there, but Hannibal was on a whim. Mary had been to Hannibal as a child and wanted to return, and I imagined it as something of a southern Wisconsin Dells - with separate Go-Kart tracks for blacks and whites. I knew it was the home-town of Mark Twain but I had no idea a city of more than 10,000 could subsist over a hundred years solely on allusions to the past. But it has. Barely. There is to this day a heart of a city dedicated to and erected by the early childhood of Samuel Clemens. Now I wont say that Tom Sawyer's white picket fence isn't still there, and that I didn't have a picture taken of me pretending to paint it, but I will say that a venture of a block outside the old-town district revealed houses on cinder blocks and what-I-think were goats grazing on lawns. Maybe that says more about the municipal and state governments of Hannibal and Missouri respectively than the character of a town forgotten by the advent of the rail-car, but upon leaving I felt less that I was departing an historic American berg than I was high-tailing it out of Tegucigalpa. It was great though to try to feel what Mark Twain felt. I could still hear the explosion of the gambling boat that killed his brother. And while it was distracting by being such a tourist trap(off-season nonetheless), and while it wasn't really a gambling boat that killed his brother, Hannibal never seemed more than the wrong side of Lake Tahoe to Mark Twain's Carson City.

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