After working in the Southwest and Southeast the previous two hitches, the next stop for our nationwide adventure was the Midwest. Our initial task was to work in Missouri and southern Illinois. We landed in St. Louis and drove a three-quarter loop of the state, hitting refuges in the central, northwest and southwest portions. We were particularly impressed with the newly constructed LEED certified visitor center at Neosho National Fish Hatchery – the oldest operating fish hatchery in the country. The Neosho/southwestern Missouri area were in our thoughts later as we heard how Joplin got hit with a severe tornado.
As we headed east into southern Illinois, we witnessed the effects of the flooding that have plagued the area for weeks. Not only were trees nearly submerged, but farmland was inundated with water. Due to the flooding along the Mississippi River, several refuges were not able to meet with us because they were inundated with water. Several refuges along the river had to cancel our visits, which forced us to venture further east to find work. We went to southwestern Indiana, spent some time in Kentucky which included hiking at Mammoth Cave National Park – the largest cave system in the world – before finishing up our hitch out in West Virginia. While we covered some significant miles, we were excited by seeing a significant portion of the country.