The others left (on the 5th??) one-by-one. I had arranged to stay for a few more days, so poor Hyp had to keep me entertained. There are quite a few networks of caves in the area's limestone, so she took me to see a few of them. They are impressive and interesting, but the tours are perhaps less planned and glitzy than our own Wookey Hole and others I've seen. Mind you, I was glad not to have silly little toy witches "hiding" in them.
One cave I remember had been designated as a shelter during the Cold War. Apart from a few signs and some hefty doors, the main difference seemed to be a pillar built in the middle. It served no supportive purpose and was merely there to reassure any who might find such a large stone ceiling worrying. At another I bought a geode1.
For actually learning about the geology of the area the museum in Joplin was a better bet than the guided tours. It had some impressively large lumps of minerals unearthed in the area and some informative displays, which I've pretty much forgotten now.
The geological bit was just part of the museum, there were several collections, or rather museums as each was rather grandly claimed to be in its own right. So I looked at, among others, the Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, the Empire District Electric Company Museum, and the three racks of shelves that make up the National Historical Cookie Cutter Museum. Hyp seemed to find this last a litle embarrassing.
The coaches through Joplin are pretty rare and don't connect very well with the ones I needed at St. Louis, so Hyp ended up driving me that far. I guess I'd forgotten quite what the distance was as it took me by surprise that this was an all-day commitment for her. I can't help feeling I impinged on her hospitality somewhat.
On the way we stopped off in Lebanon to visit Healing Magic Hands, and saw her garden. The US may have a reputation for huge, intensive farms, but it seems everyone I know grow their own veg. There was also the labyrinth, which is picked out in stones on the ground, and not the sort you can get lost in as it has only one path. It's a meditaty thing, not a game. There's certainly an impressive amount of stuff in HMH's back yard, but I suggested that it was a decent size for a cricket field instead. I hope she didn't take that too seriously, because finding 22 people to play the game in Lebanon, Missouri, would be quite tricky.
We were hoping to go up the big arch in St. Louis, but when it turned out that the numbers being shouted out by the guards (security looked pretty tight, so they were definitely guards rather than guides or doormen) indicated the time we'd be queueing until and not the price, we realised there was no time before my bus came. So Hyp and I sat in the burning sun watching the paddle-wheeled boats on the mighty Mississippi. It was too hot for anything else.
And then I went to catch the bus back to Canada. There was a slight hiccough in that, due to idiocy on my part, my pass would have expired somewhere between Chicago and Detroit. The lady at the desk got confused about whether the dates on the pass were inclusive or exclusive, called a manager and somehow I got away without paying extra fare.
My holiday continued a while in Canada, but since it didn't involve any h2g2 people I think I'll leave the travelogue there.