State 5: Missouri - June 27, 2017
We decided to sleep in this morning, and woke up in Boonville, MO at 10:00 am. Nate and I checked our email first thing in the morning as usual, and we discovered something very disturbing. We monitor our credit on a weekly basis, and we noticed that I had a hard pull on my credit report from Capital One the day prior. I did not open a credit card with them, Nate denied doing so as well, and neither one of us have any accounts with them. Oh boy, I had a feeling I was in store for very a challenging day of long periods of time on hold, and frustrating phone calls with customer service reps. I ended up spending over 4 hours on the phone with Capital One, spoke with 5 different representatives, and all of whom were no help whatsoever. I first spoke to the application department, who confirmed that a credit card application was filled out, but would not give me any more information. The application department then transferred me to the fraud department. The fraud department kept asking for my account number, which I could not give, because I do not have an account with them. The fraud department representative then abruptly hung up on me after I did not give them an account number despite explicitly stating I do not have an account.
Then I called back, and after a 45-minute hold, spoke with the application department again, who now said they could not find the credit card application that was fraudulently filed. I asked how this could be possible when the last person I spoke with said that they in fact had the fraudulent application? I was once again transferred to the fraud department, who once again kept asking for my account number. I then demanded to talk to a fraud department supervisor, and was put on hold for another 30 minutes. The supervisor was actually very helpful. She finally confirmed that I was a victim of identity theft and that the fraudulent application had been denied. They would remove the hard pulls from my credit reports, and told us what to do next. Now I have to file a police report, contact all of my banks and credit card companies, change all of my passwords, and call all 3 credit bureaus. I will likely have the same 4 hour merry-go-round with each as I had with Capital one, and would rather have a root canal! I felt very violated by the idea that someone is trying to take my identity. The supervisor said that I need to watch my credit score carefully for the next 5-15 years as these thieves who have my personal information will continually make attempts such as this.
Both Nate and I are extremely debt adverse. For years, we lived on cash only basis. We found it much easier to save and more difficult to spend money when paying with cash verses credit. We had no credit score, but we did not need one. We had an emergency fund, always lived within our means, and if we needed something we saved up for it. Once we started planning for our cross country trip, we decided to get a few credit cards to build credit just in case it was needed, and for the rewards. Now I am missing my credit-less days on days like today, because who wants to steal the identity of someone with no credit score? People don’t talk enough about financial issues in our country, and that’s a very bad thing. Although this topic is not related to our cross country trip, I felt the need to share that being a victim identity theft stinks.
Today Lori and I toured the Missouri Capitol, and the States Museum in Jefferson City. The state Capitol building was from the exterior was large and unremarkable compared to others we have seen. The inside of the building was spectacular! It featured well over 100 murals painted throughout the building that depicted the history of Missouri. Some of these murals were well over 100 years old, and were very well preserved. Over each doorway, and even above the elevator was a painted mural. Some were small like the ones over the doorways, and others were floor to ceiling and wrapped around the entire room. We felt as we were in art museum instead of a government building. It was a sight to behold.
That was the good, but now on to the bad. By this point in our journey we have a few capitol tours under our belt. We can tell the difference between a tour guide who loves his job and his state, and the one who is just going through the motions. The tour guide we had was of the latter type. At points he would just go off topic rambling about things not related to the tour. At other times he would bombard us with dates and facts that were of little interest to anyone. Who cares that President Harry Truman had his first hair cut as president in the very room we stand in today? He was also very impatient with the other visitors, was constantly looking at his watch. He did not even show us the Senate chamber! The Missouri States museum was as equally disappointing as our tour guide. The state's museum was very unusually placed, taking up the entire first floor of the capitol building. Surely there could have been better use of the entire first floor of the capitol instead of a museum? Even worse, the museum left us confused with more questions than answers about the state’s history. It followed no cohesive pattern, and was a collection of scattered relics telling no story. They actually had a 1950’s child’s port-a-potty on display behind glass. They also had a wall of sticky notes pictured below where visitors could leave improvement suggestions. I was going to leave a suggestion that they burn whole the museum and start over, but Lori would not let me. We did learn that apparently Missouri played a pivotal role in WW1, although we left unsure of exactly what that role was. We also learned Mark Twain was born in Missouri, but the display did not say where. The did have a huge 550 pound and 15-foot-long brass model of the WW2 Destroyer USS Missouri, pictured below which was very interesting to see. They also had a display of old WW2 artillery shells that had an interesting story. The shells had been on display for a few years when museum coordinators realized they had no records of them being deactivated. They actually had to call in the bomb squad to remove them from the building, x-ray them to make sure they were in fact inactive, and then they were finally returned to the museum.
After the State capitol tour, we departed Jefferson City, MO and was headed east to Union, MO. There was a library opened until 8pm, and a Walmart both in the same tiny town. Our excitement over this could only be fully understood by fellow vagabonders. It was like hitting the lotto! Missouri landscapes consists of miles and miles and miles of corn fields with tiny towns about 25 miles apart. The speed limit on the roads with the corn fields is usually 60 mph, and the speed limits in towns is usually 40 mph. Nate is usually very good at keeping track of the speed limits. If he steps out of line and speeds, Rosie our van, and Michelle our GPS, and I, will all let him know simultaneously. Therefore, Nate does not speed, because he does not want 3 women yelling at him. Upon entering the tiny town of Rosebud, MO, population 401, we saw the flashing lights in our mirrors, and pulled over right away. The cop approached the van, and stated we were going 53 mph in a 40 mph zone. Nate and I knew there was no way that was true. Most likely his scanner picked up our out of state plates, and figured we would not contest the ticket. We decided as we pulled over, we would fight this ticket in the courts, and not on the side of the street with the cop. We complied with the officer’s requests, and were polite and respectful. He asked Nate where we were coming from, and where we were going. We told him about our cross country trip to find a new home state, and that we were in Missouri this week to consider moving here. As soon as those words came out of Nate’s mouth, the cop bent over and started laughing hysterically for a good minute or so. Nate and I were a little perplexed, and did not know how to react. Did he find our trip funny, or maybe he was just an easily amused individual? Should we laugh with him, or just wait for him to stop? We decided to just wait for the cop to regain his composure, and let the cop make the next move. I will say it was probably the most awkward minute or so in our trip so far. He eventually stopped laughing and said “Why in the world would you want to move to Missouri?” He then began laughing hysterically again. It’s very hard to watch someone cracking up and not to laugh with them. Not to mention hearing a cop bash his home state which he is sworn to protect with his very life was funny. Nate almost lost it and started laughing too. I smacked Nate on the leg, and he quickly regained his composure. We waited for the cop to stop laughing for the second time, and were very surprised when he let us off with a warning. Maybe we initially judged the cop’s intentions wrong, and the universe had put us in his path because he just needed a good laugh that day. Regardless, Nate had a person goal prior to departing on this trip. It was to travel 30,000 miles across the country over the next year without getting a single moving violation, and his perfect record still stands!
Nate and I try to give each state we visit a chance to be our new home state. We try to put our personal bias aside, and not form an opinion until we complete our route and exit the state. I have to say Missouri is not giving either one of us warm fuzzy feelings. Even the cop who pulled us over started laughing hysterically at the notion that we may be moving to Missouri. Well, we still have one last stop on our route through Missouri: St. Louis, so we will continue to be open-minded. We were well aware prior to leaving on this amazing adventure, any state, any town, at any given moment in time could end up being our new home. No doubt we will have to kiss a few frogs before we find our prince. Tonight we are camped at a Walmart parking lot in Union, MO. We will be camping in Northern Missouri for the next two days before heading to St. Louis.