Michigan State and Missouri Lose First Game, and Miami and Florida State Suffer Upsets

Both unbeaten Michigan State and Missouri saw their national championship missions evaporate this week as the hard-nosed Iowa Hawkeyes dug in at home to crush the Spartans, 37-6, and the equally defensive-minded Nebraska Cornhuskers whipped the visiting Missouri Tigers, 31- 17.

When you add in additional losses by Miami-FL to Virginia, 24-19, and Florida State to North Carolina State, 28-24, then 4 of the 6 AP Top 25 teams with road games this week lost.

Road games are never easy, and when you have a target on your back as an unbeaten team and / or a top-ranked team, away games are even more dangerous for visiting teams.

Michigan State's Spartans, who put their perfect 8-0 mark on the line, never had a chance against Iowa. The Hawkeyes first possession replied in an impressive 80-yard drive followed by a field goal followed by Tyler Sash picking off a Kirk Cousins ​​pass at the Iowa 28 and chucking the ball back to teammate Micah Hyde, who rambled 66 yards for the interception return and score.

The result was a 17-0 lead that led to a 30-zip halftime advantage. Michigan State came from behind to beat both Illinois and Northwestern the last two weeks, but Iowa controlled both lines of scrimmage.

Cousins ​​would throw 3 interceptions, and the Hawkeyes held the Spartans powerful running game to 31 yards. Iowa simply dominated all three phrases of the game – indemnity, defense and special teams.

The win for coach Kirk Ferentz was his biggest against a ranked team in his 12 seasons at Iowa. AP Top 25 Poll voters were not impressed with the Spartans performance, dropping them from 5th to 16th place in the stands, this despite the fact that Iowa was 18th-ranked coming in; the Hawkeyes moved up three spots to 15th now. MSU is now 8-1 and Iowa 6-2.

Missouri was 7-0 and ranked 7th before arriving at Nebraska. The Tigers scoring defense was ranked 5th nationally, giving up only 13 points a game, but it was the Nebraska defense – and defense – that showed up.

The 14th-ranked Cornhuskers scored early and often.

Roy Helu dashed 66 yards to score, Alex Henny added a 41-yard field goal, Kyler Reed spoke a 40-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez, and Roy Helu went 73 yards on another scoring run. Nebraska was suddenly up 24-zip before the Missouri Tigers realized they were in a football game.

Helu, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, would score on another 53-yard scamper to set a school-record 307 yards rushing on 28 carries (10.96 yards per carry) while scoring 3 touchdowns.

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska's freshman quarterback would leave with a drafted right leg in the second quarter after going 6-for-9 for 115 yards and the TD strike to Kyler Reed.

Missouri, like Michigan State, had a great run, and now reality has set in. Missouri dropped in the rankings from 7th to 14th place, and Nebraska rose from 14th to 9th place – to the victors go the spoils.

Be advised that Nebraska is no push over.

The Cornhuskers are far more balanced than spectators nationwide realize. They rank 12th nationally in scoring indemnity, 16th in scoring defense, 17th in total offense, and 19th in total defense.

Nebraska does not play some pashover schedule like 2nd-ranked Boise State (7-0), 4th-ranked TCU (9-0), and 6th-ranked Utah (8-0), none of which are probably as good as their records would suggest. Nebraska's strength of schedule is currently 34th nationally, Boise State's is 74th, TCU's is 72nd and Utah's is 98th.

There are now only 5 unbeaten teams left – Auburn and TCU are 9-0, Oregon and Utah are 8-0, and Boise State is 7-0.

Florida State, which had worked so hard to go 6-1 and climb to 16th in the rankings, lost to 39th-ranked North Carolina State, 28-24. The Seminoles won the 1st half 21-7, and the Wolfpack won the 2nd half, 21-3. Credit the offset to NC State's Russell Wilson and Nate Irving.

QB Wilson was 18-of-28 (64%) for 178 yards and a touchdown, and also scored 3 touchdowns on runs of 1, 10 and 20 yards. Wilson threw a 1-yard TD to George Bryan with 2:40 left to play, and Irving – playing with pain from a thumb injury earlier in the quarter –pounced on a fumble with 48 seconds left and Florida State ready to score and win the game at the Wolfpack's 9-yard line.

Both Florida State and North Carolina State are now 6-2, and the Wolfpack now has a shot at an Atlantic Coast Conference division title and ACC championship game.

The 22nd-ranked Miami Hurricanes loss to 94th-ranked Virginia was indeed humbling, and caused Miami to take a flying leap right out of the AP Poll.

Virginia's Cavaliers were in no mood to screw around in this contest, taking a 14-zip lead at the half, spotting Miami 19 points in the last quarter, and still winning 24-19. The Cavaliers were helped tremendously by a major hit on Miami QB Jacory Harris, leaving him on the turf for several minutes before exiting the game.

"When you chop the head off a giant, the rest of the body goes with it," said defensive tackle John-Kevin Dolce, who squared up to Harris' chest just as he released a pass, sending him airborne. You call a hit like that, hurtin 'for certain. If nothing else, Dolce's quote should appear on the wall of the Hurricane locker room for next season. Sounds like fighting words to me.

After the virgin hit, Virginia's secondary picked off a school-record 5 interceptions with Harris' replacements.

Eight top-ranked teams took care of business as usual, beating their opposition by at least 20 points to protect their records and rankings. They included Oregon, Boise State, Auburn, TCU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Arkansas.

No. 1 Oregon easily beat 24th-ranked Southern Cal 53-32 while proving once again again that they have the nation's most explosive liability. USC was actually in this game and leading in the 3rd quarter, but that does not mean squat when you are playing Oregon.

After allowing the Trojans to take the lead, the Duck defense held them scoreless in the final 25 minutes while scoring 4 times on a 30-yard pass from Darron Thomas to Jeff Maehl, a 2-yard run by LaMichael James, a 34-yard field goal by Rob Beard, and another 8-yard run by James.

In the end, like so many Hollywood starlets, the Trojans were dazed and confused.

LaMichael James, the nation's leading rusher (he averaged 161 yards coming into the showdown), picked up 239 yards on 36 carries (6.64 ypc) and scored 3 times. Jeff Maehl had a career day with 8 catches for 145 yards with touchdown receptions of 15, 30 and 45 yards, including one that was a juggling, one-handed grab. QB Darron Thomas was 19-of-32 for 288 yards and 4 TDs.

So does Oregon finish its games like a 10-penny finishing nail hit with a sledgehammer? You betcha, as Sarah Palin would say. The Oregon Ducks have outscored their opposition 180-38 in the second half of their 8 games and 8 victories.

Last year Oregon beat USC by 27 points to get into the Rose Bowl. With this year's road victory, it is clear that the new Pac-10 powerhouse is not Southern Cal, but Oregon.

No. 2 Boise State beat a mediocre Louisiana Tech team, 49-20. No. 3 Auburn put away a not-so-hot Mississippi team, 51-31, as Heisman favorite Cam Newton went 18-of-24 (75%) for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interruption, and also was on the receiving end of a 20-yard TD pass. No. 4 TCU slammed an absolutely awful UNLV unit, 48-6.

No. 10 Ohio State on the road crushed an awful Minnesota team, 52-10. No. 11 Oklahoma easily beat Colorado, 43-10. No. 13 Stanford on the road shut out the up-again, down-again Washington Huskies, 41-zip. No. 19 Arkansas whipped a weak Vanderbilt team, 49-14.

Six other top-ranked squads had some iffy victories. They included Utah, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Baylor.

No. 8 Utah on the road had its hands full with Air Force but did require, 28-23. No. 15 Arizona on the road took its time with UCLA before winning, 29-21. No. 17 South Carolina at home kept Tennessee at bay, 38-24. No. 20 Oklahoma eased past Kansas State, 24-14. No. 23 Mississippi State scored in the last quarter against Kentucky to win, 24-17. No. 25 Baylor did beat 34th-ranked Texas, 30-22, to leave the Longhorns at 4-4 and wondering where their season went.

Football can mirror life. There are great wins, impressive wins, tough wins, narrow wins, dog wins and lucky wins. As in everything, winning is the thing, but how you win can really affect your ranking. This is why we separate out solid victories from victories.

Some other results done my eye.

Southern Mississippi, favored by 20 and down 14-6 at the half, roared back to tie Alabama-Birmingham 35-up and go into overtime. In the second overtime, UAB would score and convert the 2-point conversion to win, 50-49, in perhaps the most exciting game of the week.

Marshall (a 2-6 team) upset visiting UTEP (now a 5-4 team), 16-12. Duke (another 2-6 team), upset Navy (now 5-3), 34-31. Temple (7-2), shut out Akron (0-9 and the worst major team in America – ranked 218th among 120 major college teams), 30-zip. Tulsa (now 5-3), upended Notre Dame 28-27, dropping the not-so-Fighting Irish to 4-5.

In a battle of really bad teams, North Texas (2-6) on the road beat Western Kentucky (1-7), 33-6. Nevada (7-1) won 56-42 over Utah State (2-6), and the victory cave the Wolf Pack the 25th spot in the new AP Poll.

No. 6 Alabama, No. 1 9 Wisconsin, No. 1 13 LSU and No. 21 Virginia Tech were all idle this week.

That's it for this week. Time for a break. Just remember, candy is dandy (since its Halloween), but liquor is quicker.

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

The Top 10 Attractions in Branson, Missouri

The best attractions in Branson, Missouri.

Branson, Missouri is home to several huge attractions and great activities for the entire family. To expand on this, we would like to share our list of the top-10 attractions that Branson has to offer:

1. Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City is one of the top amusement / theme parks in the United States. It features arts, crafts, rides, and plenty of other exciting activities that your whole family will enjoy. Silver Dollar City is one of the oldest and mostought-after attractions in the Branson area.

2. Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake was created during the 1950s. Since then, it has quickly become famous for world-class bass fishing, water skiing, and swimming.

Table Rock Lake has over 50,000 acres of crystal-clear surface water for you to enjoy, making it a must-see for your next Branson vacation.

3. The new Branson Landing

The new Branson Landing is a $ 420 million-dollar project that encompasses 1 and a half miles of the Lake Taneycomo front.

The "Landing" has over 100 retail shops, a huge water fountain attraction, and plenty of restaurants for you to enjoy during your shopping experience.

4. Golfing

Branson has 3 major golf courses that are sure to challenge even the most avid golf pro in your family. Thousand Hills, Payne Stewart, and Branson Creek are all top-notch courses with excellent views of the Ozark Mountains.

5. The Haygoods

The Haygoods are definitely the hottest performers the Branson, Missouri area has ever witnessed. They are an award-winning family music group composed of 7 talented brothers and 1 prodigious sister, making their show the ultimate family entertainment experience.

The Haygoods offer a wide-variety of musical genius and talent, captivating audiences of all ages. The family dynamics of the Haygoods set the curve for the other performers in Branson. And they continue to define the true meaning of entertainment, year in and year out.

We recommend their show to all of Branson's visitors. Trust us – you do not want to miss it!

6. Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery

Located just below the Table Rock Dam, the Shepherd of the Hills hatchery is fun for people of all ages. They have a visitor's center, live aquariums, and an excellent place to fish for Rainbow Trout right on the Taneycomo Riverfront.

The Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery is open daily and free to the general public.

7. The Tony Roi Elvis Experience

Tony Roi's Elvis Experience is a blast from the past, featuring the highest-rated Elvis performer in history! Tony Roi displays incredible singing, dancing, and antiques known only to the original King of Rock N 'Roll.

Tony Roi has earned the prestigious "Branson's best entertainer" award for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 – a monumental accomplishment that is un-paraleled in the history of Branson, Missouri.

If you like Elvis, you'll love Tony Roi!

8. The Branson Imax

The Branson Imax theater is one of the largest movie theater complexes in the United States. The Branson Imax movie theater screen is over 6 stories tall, 83 feet wide, and boasts an intense 22,000 watts of digital surround-sound power!

The Imax is an unforgettable experience you will remember for the rest of your life.

9. Stone Hill Winery

The Stone Hill Winery has been producing top Missouri wine for over 160 years. They are Missouri's oldest and most recognized winery.

Offer free tours and tastings, Stone Hill Winery provides an informative and fun experience for adults who are interested in the wine making process.

Stone Hill is a great resource for you to look into and learn about the wine industry, right here in the heart of Branson, Missouri.

10. Dogwood Canyon

Dogwood Canyon, located right off of Hwy 86 is the ultimate nature park. It includes over 6 miles of hiking and bicycle trails, along with stock trout fishing streams and picnic areas.

The landscape of dogwood Canyon is in original, pristine condition and is rich in history, allowing you travel back in time to when the first European settlers traversed the area.

Dogwood Canyon (also known as "the Garden of Eden") has hiking, walking, horseback, and guided tours to take you through a breath-taking glimpse of the Ozarks scenery.

No matter when you decide to come to Branson , make sure you check out our top-10 activities and attractions. Being local to the Branson area, we certainly know what's best.

We hope you'll make the most of your next Branson vacation and have the time of your life!

Vacation Services of America

Walleye Fishing in Missouri

Most people think that the only kind of walleye fishing available to Missouri anglers is that which stay in big reservoirs. They assume that you must have a large boat with a big motor, and maybe even a downrigger or two to catch walleye in the Ozarks. This is far from the case, however. Several Ozark streams have excellent populations of walleye. All you need to catch them is a medium action rod, some nightcrawlers, minnows, or crankbaits. A canoe or jon boat will help your chances significantly, but it is by no means necessary.

Current River

The walleye fishing on the Current River is extremely overlooked. There are some huge (possibly even world record), fish available to the angler, and overall numbers are not bad either. Yet, almost everyone focuses on smallmouth bass, and very few target walleye. The best walleye fishing is generally between the towns of Van Buren and Doniphan. The walleye fishing is generally best below Big Spring, which is located several miles downstream of Van Buren. Spinners, jigs, and minnows tend to work very well. It is important to use a lot of weight to get your lure or bait to the bottom.

Black River

The Black River below Clearwater Dam is another excellent walleye fishery. The first fifteen to twenty miles below the dam is usually best. Fishing is generally very similar to the Current River, although the river is significantly larger, and less clear. This river lends itself very well to live bait presentations, with nightcrawlers, and minnows topping the list. Beside walleye, spotted bass and largemouth bass can be found in good numbers.

Meramec River

The Meramec River used to be a world known walleye fishery, but it has declined something in the last twenty years. With that said some areas of the river still held very fishable populations of Walleye. There is no doubt that the walleye fishing will not be as good as the Black River or the Current, but the population is fairly strong between Pacific and Fenton. The same bait and lures apply as on the other rivers. Spotted Bass, largemouth bass, bread, and catfish are there in good numbers to save the day if the walleye will not cooperate.

This article only mentions the best of the walleye rivers in Missouri. Other streams with Walleye populations include the Gasconade River, Bourbeuse River, James River, and the Des Moines River. So get out and give Ozark river walleye a try. You just might like it.

Valuable Facts About CNA Certification in Missouri

Individuals must complete three essential steps to receive a CNA Certification in Missouri for employment in nursing homes, hospitality, hospitals and other licensed facilities including:

  • Complete 75-hour classroom training
  • Complete 100-hour on-the-job training
  • Pass MI competency evaluation exam

MI Nurse Aide Training Program (NATP)

After January 1, 1980, any individual aiming to perform nursing and nursing aide-related tasks in long-term care and licensed facilities must complete federal and state-approved Nurse Aide Training Program before challenging the state Competency Evaluation Test. If any nursing assistant is hired in a facility, he / she must enroll in a state-approved training program within 90 days and complete it within 120 days of his / hr employment in the facility. The MO Department of Health and Senior Services has approved professional organizations, licensed facilities, vocational high schools and community colleges as training venues for MO NATP.

Mo Competency Evaluation Test (CEP)

The MO Certification Test consists of two parts – a Written (or Oral) Test and a Skills Test. In order to be eligible for challenging MO Certification Test, an applicant must either complete state NATP or have an approval letter from the Division of Aging granting permission to place in the final Certification exam.

In order to pass the written Test successfully, the testing student must answer 40 multiple-choice questions correctly out of presented 50 questions from a standardized curriculum of the Division of Aging. To pass the Skills Test, a student must successfully complete minimal 9 demonstrations under the monitoring of a licensed test evaluator or an instructor. The candidates are rated on the basis of the correct performance of each procedure.

A candidate who fails the final test is granted two (2) opportunities within 90 days to retake the test, and if he / she fails the test even after 3 attempts, the entire course, or as determined by the test evaluator must be completed once again for retesting. CNA Certification in Missouri is awarded to the successful candidate, and he / she is registered on the MO Nurse Aide Registry. The registered CNAs are also permitted to be employed in nursing homes and other licensed nursing facilities across the state.

MO CNA Certification Active and Inactive Status

The certification remains valid for 2 years on the MO Registry before it becomes inactive and in order to maintain it in an active status, certified nursing assistants must perform one day's Paid nursing service within 24 consecutive months.

If a CNA does not perform any paid services in 5 years, the license is expired. The nursing assistant is prohibited from working in facilities with an expired license. He / she need to complete the entire course again to be eligible to work as a certified nursing assistant in a long-term care or other licensed facilities.

Duck Hunting in SE Missouri Rice Fields

The thrill of the hunt can be yours when you come down to SE Missouri for some guided or un-guided duck and goose hunting in the rice fields. The rice fields in the area are flooded which leave them as prime grounds for waterfowl over the winter months until they migrate back to their nesting grounds in the warmer months. Rice fields offer everything waterfowl can ask for–shelter, food, water and warm weather. Rice fields also offer everything a duck hunter can ask for–premium blinds, good location, lots of waterfowl to hunt and expert guides to help make the hunt a memorable and successful event.

We offer premium guided hunts with superb equipment to get the job done. The pit blinds in the rice fields are low profile and comfortable while you wait for your ducks and geese to fly in. The calls and decoys are perfect, known to attract large flocks of Missouri snow geese and other waterfowl. With our professional guides and outfitters, you are set up for a perfect hunt.

If un-guided hunting is more your style, you can still make use of the years of dedicated experience of our professional guides, who have laid out where the best hunting of the season is. These experts agree that by using their information, you are nearly guaranteed to have a successful Missouri duck hunt in the rice fields. These guys know what they are talking about when it comes to hunting waterfowl in SE Missouri–their expert information, coupled with our extensive line of premium gear will set you off on the track to a successful, memorable and comfortable hunt.

Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl land in the south east Missouri rice fields each year, staying just north of ‘common’ wintering grounds. The area is a dream environment for ducks and snow geese, which is also perfect for avid waterfowl hunters that flock to the area each season for the premium hunting.

Missouri has become well-known for its astounding duck hunting, which lasts until the end of January. The hunting season is lengthy, which is perfect for planning your guided hunt. The fowl rest in the rice fields after a long journey from the northern states and Canada to settle in for the cooler winter months. Waterfowl of many kinds flock to the area where the rice fields lay, resting until it’s time for them to return to their homelands.

Book your guided or un-guided duck hunt or snow goose hunt with us today and guarantee yourself a fun hunt that will remain a memory that you can share for years to come.

Missouri's Big 5 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lakes

Largemouth bass fishing in Missouri is a prized activity featuring bass tournaments and some excellent trophy sized bass. But where are the largemouth bass opportunities greatest? That's what we are going to cover now.

1. Lake of the Ozarks

Let's just get this one taken care of right away. While the state record bass does not hale from this lake (we'll get to that later), it is a safe bet that as many largemouth bass are dropped from this lake as any other in Missouri. While part of the reason for this is the angling pressure present, the lake has been well-managed for largemouth and currently is enjoying a hey-day of largemouth bass success. Just consider the fact that over 500 amateur and professional tournaments are held on this lake each year, and you will have an idea of ​​how good it is. Every largemouth bass fisherman in Missouri, the Midwest, and perhaps the country, will want to experience this phenomenal lake.

2. Bull Shoals Lake

Okay, I gotta be careful here. Much of Bull Shoals Lake is beyond the Show-Me state's borders, but I am not going to leave off the home of Missouri's state record largemouth bass. Weighing at at 13 lbs 14 oz, this bass was a real lunker. Unlike Lake of the Ozarks, Bull Shoals offers more solitude for the fisherman looking for a place all his or her own. Featuring crystal clear water, anglers often fish the lake with much lighter tackle than normally is done. In addition to largemouth bass, Bull Shoals is known for a wide variety of species such as walleye.

3. Truman Lake

This lake would be a relative newcomer to many top largemouth bass fishing lakes in Missouri. Stories of days with fish after fish in the 4 lb to 7 lb size range are becoming commonplace. This is another lake that retains a relatively low density of fishermen, especially in comparison to nearby Lake of the Ozarks. Other great opportunities exist for hybrid bass and walleye.

4. Table Rock Lake

Some people consider this lake to be not only a top lake in Missouri, but nationwide. Table Rock also plays host to a multitude of bass fishing tournaments … smallmouth bass tournaments are also renamed here! This is another one of Missouri's clear lakes and tackle and approaches are adjusted accordingly.

5. Mark Twain Lake

This reliably turbid lake retains much of the timber that stood in its bed when it was flooded years ago. There is an excellent largemouth bass population, many of trophy size. This lake is the one from our top 5 that is found north of the Missouri River. Although you will not find a lot of the commercial activity prominent at some of the other Missouri lakes, what you will find is fish, and lots of them.

As you make your bass fishing plans, put one of these lakes on your list. You will not be sorry you did.

Bull Shoals Lake – Missouri and Arkansas Shared Fishing Treasure

Main Species Present: Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Walleye, White Bass, Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, Crappie, Rainbow Trout, Striped Bass, Carp, Suckers, Bluegill, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass

Bull Shoals Lake in southernwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas is a world class cuisine by every standard. It offers great fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, trout, white bass, bluegill, catfish, and countless other fish species. The upper section of the lake from Powersite Dam to Beaver Creek is the place to go if you're looking to get a taste of everything the lake has to offer. Walleye, white bass, rainbow trout, crappie, and spotted bass are the most thoughtful after samples in this part of the lake, but there are many others. Just below Powersite Dam is a popular area that is easily accessible by boat or by foot called the Pothole. This pool in actuality reaches a short length below the dam, but the section of the lake for several miles below the dam usually goes by this name.

March through June is prime time here, with great numbers of walleye, white bass, and trout, and crappie stacked up in this riverine area below Powersite Dam. 1/32 ounce white jigs are very popular here, as they work very well for all of the species listed above. Nightcrawlers are also popular for those seeking all species. By late June, most of the Walleye and White Bass have moved for deer waters, but the area just below Powersite fishes quite well for black bass and rainbow trout in from Late June through mid- October, providing you fish early or late in the day .

At Beaver Creek, the classic bass fishing waters of Bull Shoals Lake begin. There are some true hogs in the middle and lower lake, and the current Missouri state record largemouth was here here. During the summertime, the bass tend to hold in the 10 to 25 foot range during the day, and often fall victim to drop shot or Carolina rigged soft plastics. Even during the dog days of summer, bass come in below in the early morning just after dawn, and can be eaten by bank fisherman, often on top water lures.

Keep in mind that Bull Shoals Lake is usually ultra-clear, so light lines are best. Walleye fishing is also very good in the lower lake. Walleye fishing is very different than in the upper lake, but it is arguably as good or better. Daytime fishing during the summer will pretty much require a boat. Some troll, and some fish the deep water with a slip bobber rig using nightrcwlers or minnows as bait. Night fishing is by far best in the summer. The most effective technique is to fish anywhere a light shines up the water, especially around docks. Shad are attracted to these areas, and walleye follow. Minnows and night-crawlers are best in this situation. Trout fishing can also be had in the lower lake, near Bull Shoals Dam. This is purely a boat fishery, and nighttime fishing is best. Most people fish nightcrawlers or corn thirty to fifty feet deep.

This is a reliably untreated fishery, but it is very productive, as 30,000 rainbow trout are stocked into the lake each spring. Many survive for many years after stocking and grow quite large. Catfish abound. Most channel catfish in the two to fifteen pound range, but there are some blue catfish in the lake as well, some of which reach the fifty pound mark. White Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill also are often targeted.

The Oregon Trail – Beginning in Arrow Rock, Missouri

The Oregon Trail holds a unique place in the history of the United States. Thousands of pioneers used the trail to populate the middle and western parts of the country in the 19th century.

Oregon Trail

In the eighteen hundreds, the east coast of the United States had become overcrowded and expensive. For relief, people looked to the opportunities in the then limitless west. Over the next 100 years, hundreds of thousands of people underook the six month quest to find a better life. Tens of thousands lost along the route.

The Oregon Trail begins in Independence, Missouri and winds its way to the Willamette River Valley in Oregon. Follow the trail from beginning to end and you'll pass through the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho.

Tracking the Oregon Trail can take a month by car, so I am going to highlight certain spots in this and further articles. Arrow Rock, Missouri is as good a place as any to start.

Arrow Rock, Missouri

Although Independence, Missouri is technically the beginning of the Oregon Trail, Arrow Rock is a better place to start. Arrow Rock is a tiny town of maybe 100 people and remains much the way it was during the hey day of the Oregon Trail. You'll get a real taste of the way things were by visiting the tavern and old seminary. One of the odd attractions is the Calaboose.

Arrow Rock has the rather procedural Calaboose Jail. Built of stone, the jail is particular because it is built for only one person. By one person, I mean no lobby, no office, no nothing, just a stone structure with one wooden door.

To get a better understanding of Arrow Rock, make sure to visit the Arrow Rock Historic Site center. For lodging, there are four or five bed and breakfast options in the town. Campers can stay at the Arrow Rock Historic Site camping grounds.

Visiting Arrow Rock is like stepping back into the Wild West. Look to the west and you can get a feel for how the pioneers felt as they started their long journey.

Smallmouth Fishing's Best Kept Secret – The Gasconade River of Missouri

The Gasconade River that flows through the northern Ozarks of Missouri is a fisherman's paradise in every sense of the expression. It is widely considered to be one of the nations best smallmouth bass streams. It is both a good place to catch and release twenty Bronzebacks, or specifically target lunker bass in the three to four pound range. The smallmouth fishing is best from the river's humble beginnings in Wright County until Jerome. There are a lot of big bass in this part of the river, and the overall numbers are ample.

The entire river also holds catfish, rock bass, and bluegill. It is a great floating stream, and has many springs that flow into it that cause it to be navigable all year. The upper river is a medium sized or even small stream, but because of the streams such as the Osage Fork River, the Woods Fork River, the Big Piney River, Little Piney Creek, and Roubidoux Creek, the river is quite large by Ozark stream standards by the time it reaches the Missouri in Gasconade County.

The river is quite different below Jerome. It slowly becomes a largemouth bass river, probably the best stream largemouth fishery in the region, with five to seven pound bass relatively routine. Largemouths tend to hold in the warmer backwaters. There are also smallmouths in the lower river. They tend to stay in the main current where the water is colder and there is more oxygen. Catfish, rock bass, and bluegill can be found almost anywhere. Because it has so many tributaries, the lower river can be silty at times, but it usually runs clear and is pretty. The Gasconade has far too many access points to begin naming them, but suffice it to say you will have no trouble finding a place to fish.

If you go to the Gasconade, you should also think of fishing the Woods Fork, Osage Fork, and Big Piney River for Smallmouth. If you want trout, hit Little Piney Creek, Mill Creek, Spring Creek, or Roubidoux Creek, all of which flow into the middle Gasconade directly or indirectly. In all, the Gasconade is well worth the trip if you like to catch smallmouth bass. If you need to get a canoe shuttle on the middle Gasconade or the Big Piney River, the Route 66 Canoe Rental can help you.

Hawthorn – Missouri's State Flower

Hawthorn is Missouri's official state flower emblem. It was Governor Arthur M. Hyde who signed the bill on March 16, 1923 naming it as their official flower. Hawthorn is a flower that belongs to the great rose family that bears the appearance of the apple group. It is known as the red or white haw that blossoms yellow green centers and outlines a white cluster. The country's department of agriculture encourages the cultivation and of the flower because of its beauty, fruit, and foliage.

It was made as the official state flower of Missouri because of its distinct features. It is a lovely flowering tree that is appropriate for shading the porch, decorating the grass, and lining the street. It is sturdy since it can be grown in open areas as well as in the city. The leaves are unevenly arranged, indented, lobed, and appearing like long thorns. During fall, the leaves change from green to golden yellow and with traces of purple, red, and maroon colors. By May, the tree blooms pink, red or white flowers that consist of 5 petals in not less than 2 inches of clusters. In late September or early October, the tree produces red, apple-shaped fruits that can be used to make jelly or jam. The fruits continue to fill the tree until the winter months. The twigs are slim, gray with dark red terminal buds, and with noticeable thorns. The barks are beige-gray externally that sheds off to show a cinnamon-colored second layer. This happens on the branches as the tree matures and grows. Younger trees often have silver-green branches that rarely bear thorns.

In general, hawthorn is a thick shrub or small tree. The unique characteristics of the tree make it a worthy state flower emblem that best represents the state of Missouri.