Lewis and Clark were two guys on the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t fathom the audacity it would take to head west for a couple years through unknown waterways and uncharted wilderness to the Pacific. President Jefferson essentially asked them to pioneer what would be the equivalent to a flight to Mars today. Sounds like a lot of work, not to mention, dangerous. I wonder if Meriwether Lewis was secretly like, “Egh, I really don’t want to, but Tommy and I have been friends since we were little, and I don’t want to be a pussy about it.” While I generally knew about these guys, it wasn’t until recently that I dug in and got some details. Let me explain…
In effort to escape the city for a night, Huzzbot and I took a drive to Weston, MO, a town frozen in the late 1800s that charms the crap out of day trippers from throughout the region. Back in the day, it was the booming metropolis of the west, thanks to lush sprawling fields of tobacco and hemp. People moved from the south to grow massive hemp crops to make rope, and naturally brought their slaves with them. Gross. Once the Civil War ended, the white jerks realized the hemp biz was impossible to sustain without slaves, and the industry fizzled out. Oh, and then there was a flood that moved the river to the west a couple miles. Basically, a series of events knocked Weston on its ass. But it’s still kickin’ today as a historic town with museums, B&Bs, wineries and shops with kitties napping in the windows.
Before venturing into town, we stopped for a hike at Weston Bend State Park. After meandering a series of both paved and rugged, muddy trails, we arrived at an overlook of a bend along the Missouri River. There was a placard nearby featuring a story of our friends Lewis and Clark. Typically I read the first two sentences of these and lose interest. (This makes me a terrible museum partner.) However, something grabbed my attention here. According to the story, the L&C crew stumbled upon the Weston area on June 30, 1804 and stuck around for a couple days because it was too damn hot for the guys to keep going. June 30th was precisely the same day WE were there! What?! We were basically Lewis and Clark! Also, it was hot. It’s always hot.
Parched from our hike and ready to celebrate our historically relevant timing, we went to the Holladay Distillery where we took a tour and learned more about – you guessed it – Lewis and Clark. Apparently when these guys rolled into town, they discovered limestone springs which delivered the most ideal water for making bourbon. And BOOM – Missouri bourbon became a thing. These guys were full of important discoveries! Plus, we sampled some of the area’s finest local spirits, including a cinnamon whiskey that easily rivals Fireball.
In addition to the distillery, we tasted several wines from Pirtle Winery, and enjoyed an early bedtime at the Inn at Weston Landing. As you may remember, I’m not a B&B person, but this place was outstanding. Not only were the rooms large, very private and appointed with strange things like kilts, giant swords and photo books of Mother Teresa, but the innkeeper was beyond accommodating of Huzzbot’s egg allergy, and prepared a lavish, completely egg-free breakfast. We’ll be back.
The trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the highly lauded Hearth Bread Co. This wood-fire bakery has all your favorite breakfast pastries, as well several varieties of chunky bread loaves from brioche to multigrain. We picked up a ciabatta to use as the star of our BLT dinner plans and quickly left before finding reasons to justify buying one of everything. Not only was the bread delicious, but the owner and patrons were friendlier and more helpful than you can imagine, giving us recommendations for everything from museums to lunch spots. I’m not surprised. This is classic Missouri behavior.
I suspect the Missourians Lewis and Clark encountered here during that pre-Fourth-of-July weekend were equally as friendly. I’ll have to read their journals from that time to get their impressions. I’ve actually been reading a bit about these guys and have learned some fascinating things, including the sad debate about whether Lewis’ death was a suicide or murder (Ugh, sorry to be a downer). Plus, I’ve learned there are several more exceptional L&C sites in Missouri I need to visit. I’m currently obsessed. This will not be the last you hear about them…