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Missouri: Cape Girardeau and Springfield

Ø 10 November (Sunday) Cape Girardeau and Springfield MO

For more photos for this report, click here.

Rising a bit after 7 in Belleville, I checked out the meager breakfast offering and had a blueberry yogurt before leaving before 8am. My itinerary had this leg at 100 miles and 2 hours, and Mass was scheduled for 10:30. For the first half of the trip I was on 2-lane state roads, slowing down from 55 mph to 25-35 when I would roll through another town about every 5 or so miles. The landscape was rolling countryside, with lots of trees and fields – it was beautiful in a rural way. After crossing the Mississippi at Chester, on Illinois 3 to Missouri 51, I met up with I55, and I was able to accelerate on the interstate.

Cathedral of St mary of the Annunciation, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

#CapeGirardeau appeared to be a small town. As I drove towards the cathedral, the road headed to a stunning new suspension bridge, but I hooked a left parallel the river to go 3 blocks to the church. The Cathedral of St Mary of the Annunciation is very small. A red brick building on the corner, the bell tower over the entrance rises over the main street (S Sprigg at William.) An organ loft sits inside above the narthex, supported by square pillars. The nave, painted white, has fixed dark wood pews. Two small side shrines bracket the main altar at the east end. The blue-cushioned wooden cathedral is on the right side, a simple armchair under the shield of the diocese. The stained-glass windows are abstract in shades of pale blue, teal and aqua. One couple was in the building with their child when I entered at 10, and the parking lot was starting to get arrivals as I departed.

Springfield, Missouri is 280 miles away, a four-plus hour drive first south on I55 to Highway 60. This took me into Ozark country, so the road soon began to undulate. Unharvested cotton joined my repertoire of vegetation alongside the road before that first minor climb. By 1pm, the vista had become interesting and I began to enjoy the ride again. I decided to stop and have lunch and a pitstop, selecting Arnold’s 21 Burgers-BBQ in Mountain View. While I didn’t note my meal, the picture shows two skewers of top sirloin with a barbecue sauce, cole slaw and potato salad. I had an Arnold Palmer to drink, figuring the caffeine and sugar would keep me going. It was all actually pretty tasty.

#Springfield is a university town (MSU, Drury and Evangel), population about 167K, the third largest in the state. I arrived at about 3:45 and parked outside the cathedral on S Jefferson Avenue. St Agnes Cathedral is a squarish red-bricked building. Steps rising off the street sidewalk on the west face present four double-story white columns bracketing three doors. On my arrival, the building was locked. Walking around (always check for an unlocked side door), I encountered several women who advised me Mass was later, at 5pm.

My lodgings weren’t too far away, so I went and checked into the University Plaza Hotel, also a Convention Center. Much taller than surrounding buildings, I had a very modern room on the third floor. There was an indoor atrium, two small dining options, and a gym with a pool. After chilling for 15 minutes, I headed back out into the daylight to explore a bit before returning to St Agnes. Driving through downtown, I noted some places to return to, and then drove back to the cathedral.

St Agnes Cathedral, Springfield, Missouri

The side door, reached from the parking lot in back, was unlocked. Entering from the north side, I was immediately down front near the altar. Wooden pews faced the raised sanctuary, under a dome of stained glass. The interior was a warm beige, with brown highlights. A small organ loft sat above the main entry door to the west. Across on the south wall, were three large stained-glass windows, the center featuring St Agnes, with a round window above it. The Stations of the Cross were placed along these windows.

Behind the altar table, which I’m guessing it’s a stone slab framed in wood, against the east wall is the cathedra, a boxy-looking throne against a ribbed modern wood cross. The sanctuary sits in a half dome, with a large mural of Christ rising above a depiction of the cathedral campus. Curious, I sought out the stairs to the rear gallery, and after finding it, ascended. There is a great view of the nave and sanctuary from there. In addition, the organist was speaking with a parishioner who had brought two of his friends from New York City along to sit with the choir. As we chatted, we found that they now live in the CastIron Building I had lived in during the second half of my residence in NYC. Yes, it’s a small world.

Deciding not to stay for Sunday evening Mass, I left and did some more exploration. The locals in the loft had suggested “the cathedral”, the Episcopal church a bit to the northwest. A wooden clad and framed building, the exterior brought to mind Trinity Cathedral in San Jose, CA, albeit this is not a bishop’s seat. Continuing down Walnut to National, I headed south into residential areas, enjoying the fine homes, similar to those I’d seen in Quincy. Wanting to see more, I took two lefts, observing the drop-in elegance a block off Walnut on my way west into town. Once downtown, I stopped to take pictures of the Shriner building, an ornate 4-story brick building with domes at its corners.

The sun was setting, and I decided to find supper. Wending through downtown, I spotted a repurposed building, the #SpringfieldBrewingCompany. With several nearby parking lots, and a slow flow of customers heading that way, I figured it was a good option. Entering, the hostess was going to seat me at a table for 4, but I suggested a well-lit high-top spot for one. With a red ale to savor while looking over the menu, I noted that for a large space, it was bustling and busy. The crowds weren’t paying too much attention to the screens with football; socialization was underway (without their phones!)

Starting with a side of Classic Mac and Cheese, my main was “Hot Chicken” – a marinated chicken, breaded and fried. Served on a bun, I asked for a side salad rather than fries, but got spicy fries nonetheless. Not crispy, but tasty and starch I didn’t really need. Of course, I did have a second ale too. And the chicken was well cooked, so I was very pleased.

In my notes I jotted that I’d noticed that some of the dead roadside grasses were not the washed-out tan but rather were more bronze in color. They stood upright, maybe 8-10-inches apart, giving the verges some unexpected color.

I returned to the hotel, plugged it whatever needed it, and settled into reading for an hour or so. I knew there would be no breakfast in the morning, and my travel legs weren’t too bad, but the weather forecast wasn’t for friendly weather. Planning on checking the weather off and on, I slept hoping for clement weather.

Google album with pictures of Cape Girardeau and Springfield MO

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