Dark chocolate—it’s one treat I can’t pass up. A few years ago on a press trip we were tasting chocolate at a chocolate shop. I was skipping the milk chocolate and going right for the dark. One of my fellow travel writers said, “Even if I never meet you again, I will always connect you with dark chocolate.” Yep, that’s me. I’ve tasted a lot of Midwest chocolate over the past few years, and am sharing with you 11 of my favorites, in no particular order, plus two from beyond the Midwest.
Sandstone bluffs…Devil’s Elbow…W.H. Croaker. We’ve driven almost all of the Mother Road over the years. I can’t believe we missed exploring Route 66 through Pulaski County, Missouri, especially since we drive through Missouri often. When we finally made it to Pulaski County this summer, we followed the auto tour that the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau laid out in a brochure. The route is filled with natural beauty, remnants of Route 66 treasures, and one quirky road side attraction.
I am not a golfer. My total lifetime golf experience is: Participation in a “best ball” tournament, in which my ball was never best; a 15-minute lesson this spring at Pheasant Run Resort; a few trips to the driving range; and a whole lot of mini golf. So when we were offered the chance play pitch & putt golf at the Saint Robert Municipal Golf Course in Pulaski County, Missouri, of course I said yes. I never miss a chance to embarrass myself for the sake of the blog.
The weather was unseasonably warm. Even in the Missouri Ozarks, 90-degree days are uncommon in late September. I’m usually not thrilled with such hot weather. However, considering I got completely wet during our five-mile Ruby’s Landing River Resort kayak trip, the heat was welcome.
We first wrote about the Nina and Pinta replicas in 2013, when we stumbled across the ships in Clinton, Iowa. The Nina and Pinta, replicas of two Columbus’ ships, offer tours to the public. A couple of weeks ago we visited Peoria, Illinois. As we walked down to the Illinois River to board the Spirit of Peoria for a moonlight cruise, we noticed the Nina and Pinta replicas docked there. Checking the schedule, we found the ships were in Peoria through September 24, 2017. Their next stop was Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where they’ll be from September 29 through October 8. Read further for our original experience and descriptions of the Nina and Pinta replicas.
We aren’t usually lucky. A day late and a dollar short. Murphy’s Law. However, you want to phrase it, that’s us. But not this time. We happened to be in Pulaski County, Missouri, on the day the Military Vehicle Preservation Association convoyed through on Route 66. Better yet, the convoy stopped for the evening at Fort Leonard Wood, located in Pulaski County. Fort Leonard Wood opened the event to the public, and our itinerary was flexible. So off we went to Fort Leonard Wood to see the 42 vehicles that made up this antique military vehicle convoy.