An Adventure Closes: My Year in Missouri

This Average Joe is closing the books on another grand adventure!

I have spent the last year wandering the amazing State of Missouri and have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of the Ozarks from both the high of the mountains, to the darkness of the caves far below the Earth. I have tasted the fresh harvests of the Amish farmers and enjoyed the smokiness of BBQ in Kansas City. I have seen the mighty Missouri River at work and I have felt the urge to keep going west; as far west as west goes like the early explorers did before me.

As an Average Joe, this has been a rewarding year. I have accrued hundreds of thousands of airline miles and hotel points; picked up several new credit cards, earned thousands in arbitrage rewards and received or saved hundreds more through other venues. All of these “rewards” are then plowed back into my adventures or given away when I can help others out.

And, still the spark to travel has not yet diminished. New adventures are being planned as I type. This has indeed a rewarding year.

The Plaza in Kansas City, an amazing outdoor shopping venue.

My Missouri Basecamps-

Over the last year, I used four cities as my basecamp. From these, I would launch and explore the splendor of Missouri:

Jefferson City – The capital city, and the political hub of the state, during legislative session, getting a room can be tricky. Route 66 meanders through the city and for a simple slice of nostalgia, travel the highway and see the vestiges to a bygone era. One of my favorite Route 66 stops was the taco shop, Mexican Villa El Taco. A long standing taco shop that is bathed in neon and just radiates a 1950’s feel. The Villa is celebrating 66 years in business. One of the ladies mentioned to me she has worked there for almost 40 years. Now, that is some serious taco devotion.

Springfield – The heart of the state, Springfield allows you to launch your adventures in any direction. This is also home of Bass Pro Shops headquarters. And, the Mothership of all the Bass Pro Shopsis found here. Plan on a day long adventure here. See the gun and archery museum, tour the aquarium and wander through the Natural History museum on site. This is not your average Bass Pro Shop, but, it is a Bass Pro Shop to

the fourth power. Make sure you dine at Hemingway’s on site. You will leave there aching to be on blue water with a reel in your hand and the sun on your face like Pappa Hemingway used to.

Branson – An amazing collection of shows, singers and production companies will entice your entertainment desires. If you’re hungry, this town probably has one of the greatest collections of all you can restaurants east of Vegas. The town gets crowded, so plan accordingly and make sure you adjust your schedules as such. If you want to slip away to something less crowded, head south to Top of the Rock, this is a resort founded by the founder of the Bass Pro Shops founder, Jonny Morris. And, it is truly exceptional.

Make sure you take the golf cart tour but watch your weather. I did it on a winter day and did not have a jacket and nearly froze. But, it is a beautiful tour and you will be amazed at the splendor of the waterfalls along the trail. Also, take the time to tour the Morris Native American museum on site. This Native American museum here rivals the Smithsonian’s Native American museum in Washington DC with its collection.

Kansas City – The fountain city offers the wanderer many opportunities. If you love BBQ, this is the place for you. My last meal was at Joe’s BBQ, a Kansas City institution and perhaps the home of the very best ribs I have ever eaten. I stayed at the exquisite Raphael Hotel, one of Marriott’s Autograph collection, which is located on the Plaza. The Plaza is a historical shopping district and home of many restaurants, shops, a movie theater and fountains. If you enjoy happy hour, you cannot go wrong here. If you do Uber, I have always seen about a half dozen Uber drivers within the area. If you need a free ride courtesy of Average Joe, follow my link and use my referral code.

One of the amazing outdoor statues.

Average Joe Arbitrage

Here is a recap of recommendations and opportunities if you follow in my footsteps-

Free Museum(s) –

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Kansas City, it is a very short ride from the Raphael Hotel. The main museum is free and a wonderful way to enjoy a cold and rainy day. Special showings and exhibits are extra. Missouri’s home town artist, Thomas Hart Benton, is highlighted here and you can see one of his most famous paintings, Persephone.

I am a member of Bank of America and take advantage of the free museum weekends each month as I travel about. While in Missouri I took advantage of two Bank of America free museum visits:

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Little Rock Arkansas, it is a moderate drive from Springfield. But, it is a beautiful drive. The Crystal Bridges is heart of the Walton (as in Wal-Mart) art collection. A beautiful museum tucked into a valley, it is an excellent venue to wander about. If you dine on site, I recommend, the shrimp and grits (I did not know grits could be so good) at the Eleven, the in-house restaurant.

National World War One Museum, located in Kansas City, it is also a short drive from the Raphael Hotel. I recommend watching the introduction film and seeing what led up to the First World War. You will be flabbergasted at how many parallels there are to today’s current events and political storms that are sweeping the world. It is a very scary prospect.

Average Joe Opportunities

Missouri has a lot of opportunity about it. As an Average Joe, I had one of my best ever years seeking out new opportunities and building on earlier foundations. Here are some considerations-

Mobee – I found numerous Mobee opportunities in Kansas City, Lake of the Ozarks, Jefferson City and Springfield. If you are around anywhere near these locations, check your app and score a shop or two (or, more). If you are travelling, you will pick up a very nice travel bonus. If you are not familiar with Mobee, see my review for more information and a referral bonus.

Job Spotter – With record low unemployment, I saw help wanted signs almost everywhere I went. I found especially rewarding Job Spotters while exploring the back roads of Missouri. Reason being, here were the manufacturing jobs; the ones that pay really well with Job Spotter. And, it seemed like every one of these manufacturing companies was hiring, just like Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs, has been telling us all along.

With Job Spotter, it is as simple as take two pictures with your cell phone and upload. Job Spotter is by far the easiest money I have ever made. I have scored hundreds of extra dollars with this app and I have decided to give most of it away. If you are not familiar with Job Spotter see my review. There is no referral fee; but, you can thank me later.

The Raphael Hotel Lobby.

Manufactured Spending –

For those who engage in manufactured spending, it is becoming more and more difficult as a whole as a hobby. I assume that many retail shops have been burned and I saw numerous locations where the stores have now ceased to sell gift cards to anyone using a credit card. It was not impossible to engage in manufactured spending. Just very difficult. Those places that I found that would sell to me required a driver’s license check, a manager’s approval and they limited what they would sell to me. My best advice here is to shop around and keep an open eye out for opportunities.

Other Opportunities –

Hy-VeeA regional grocery store chain, I have found Hy-Vee to be one of the very best in terms of arbitrage opportunities. Here are several reasons why-

  • Gas Savings – Taking advantage of their fuel saver program, I was able to earn upwards of 40% off of gas. I started giving these fuel saver awards away as I earned them to my Average Joe friends.
  • Market Grills – Last year I noticed that the Market Grill began offering $10.00 bonus cards for those who bought $50.00 Hy-Vee gift cards. I bought these by the thousands. And, I ate free for months; steak, salmon, sushi and more. If you follow me on Facebook, I have been highlighting these opportunities weekly.
  • Manufactured Spending – Touch and go here, some stores would sell to me, others would not. It was very much store by store, manager by manager, and clerk by clerk. If you get turned downed, don’t make a scene. Just smile and move on. These good folks are only doing their respective jobs.

Burger’s SmokehouseLocated in tiny California, Missouri off of the main road and hidden behind a grove of trees, Burger’s Smokehouse has been a family run smokehouse for nearly a century. And, if anyone has been doing things for a century, you know it is good stuff. As I wandered the back roads of Missouri, every so often, I would come across one of their signs or billboards and I thought, what the heck. Let me stop in. Boy, was I rewarded for my curiosity.

For us Average Joe’s, Burger’s has two freezers of “mistakes”. These are products that for one reason or another were cut wrong and they do not meet the high standards of the family, but, there is nothing wrong with the product. You can pick up mis-cut hams for a fraction of the retail price. I happily bought from here and gave these away when I could. For Christmas, I sent the family meat packs and hams. Nothing says love like a smoked ham and thick cut bacon from Missouri.

Average Joe Meet-Ups

As I spread the gospel of Average Joe, I have started hosting meetups. Often, these are impromptu opportunities when and where I find something free and I want to share the wealth. At these meetups we can sit and chat about arbitrage opportunities, manufactured spending and money making apps. I will start hosting formal ones in the future and if you are in the area, I would love for you to stop by and say hi and we could have some “coffee talk.”

Normally, I alert people about these meet ups on Facebook.

Reach Out

I love to hear from the Average Joe community. If you ever have a question, feel free to reach out to me and let me hear from you. Also, if you know of a great app or opportunity, I want to hear about it. Let me put it to the test and if it passes, I will spread the word.