It was time to head for home after a great week in the Ozarks. Again, thanks to Condi and JR for the organizing and to Scott, Margot and friends for the BBQ. Special thanks to everyone who came and made it one more reunion to remember.
For once, we beat Sherm out of the parking lot. Zeke and Han pulled out first, but we were rolling in the dark at 6:10 AM. Sherm was waiting for Lanny so they could travel together despite their different number of wheels.
On the road to Berryville, we passed Zeke and Han but they followed us into the McDonald's. We got our usual breakfast to go. Zeke said they were going to follow US 62 all the way to US 65 before turning north, while I opted to take the diagonal winding route through Blue Eye. The little trailer tows so well I don't worry about the twists and turns. We said goodbye to these very special folks and headed out.
|Zeke and Han in the early morning hours|
|Sun starting to rise over Arkansas 21|
|Making the turn in Blue Eye|
As soon as we crossed the Missouri border, we were on wet pavement, but encountered very little active rain. We were pleased to see that as we traveled north on US 65 toward Springlfield, road construction would be starting here tomorrow.
On I-44, we once again were running against a headwind. The prevailing winds here are out of the west, but most of the time I am traveling east here they reverse themselves. We stopped at a Sinclair station for a bathroom break and got some snacks as well.
One place that did catch my eye was the Uranus Fudge Factory in (you guessed it) Uranus, Missouri
, a waypoint on the Mother Road. It looks like we just missed the First Annual Uranus Fest. This looks like a place that will warrant a stop on our next trip through.
John Caparulo, a comedian with northeastern overtones, was expounding on the Blue Collar Comedy Channel (or whatever they call it now) about getting a speeding ticket in Missouri. I couldn't help but think of Mitch and Tony D yesterday.
"I went to Missouri. I got a speeding ticket for $130. That’s a bunch of crap. Rent’s not $130 in Missouri…"
The officer asked why he was going so fast. He said he was trying to get out of the state:-))
We were cruising along at 65 MPH when, just after St. James (free association moment - anyone remember MacMillan and Wife?) , Zeke and Han blew by us at a steady 70.
|Zeke and Han take the lead|
Usually, we go right through St. Louis on I-44 and catch I-70 downtown, right by the river. Today, I decided to try the south by-pass by taking I-270/I-255. Once I corrected my direction error, caused by making an assumption instead of reading the signs, we zipped right across the river and into Illinois about 11:30.
|Didn't we just see this bridge last weekend?|
|Leaving Missouri without a speeding ticket|
We stopped at a McDonald's in Troy, just over the Illinois line, Before we got food to go, I took my laptop and got on line to change my active drivers in our NASCAR Fantasy League. I had forgotten to do this after they qualified and needed to make adjustments before the race started at 1:00 PM Central Time. It was good I did because changes were needed and, later in the day, my revisions resulted in me winning our league for this race.
The McDonald's was very slow. U.S/ Mickey D's has a system using numbers to identify which order goes where. The relaxed young lady delivering the orders to the counter didn't seem to be aware of this and the manager working with her didn't try to educate her. Oh well, it takes all kinds. We also stopped for fuel, where I noticed someone had written "Wash Me" in the dust on the side of the trailer. It must have been someone who doesn't know me.......
Just past Troy, I-70 split from I-55. This was the interchange where, in 1978, Sandy didn't tell me about the sign for Indianapolis, which I missed because I was passing a grit churning tank truck. The result was that we went ten miles up the road to Chicago before I could get turned around. We had a long conversation about sharing observations and not making assumptions, but I don't nag things like this too long. Then again, it's only been 37 years so it's still fresh in my mind.
This may be a good time for a little ramble on old versus new navigation. Back in the day, we used maps. If we were going cross country, we probably used map atlases with only moderate levels of detail. You would need to decide your route for the day and remember some highway numbers. Maybe write them down. Now we use GPS, something that would have seemed like science fiction back in 1978. GPS gives you a micro view of your journey, although it can also lead you astray if you don't realize using it is an art and not a science. The reason for this is that you lose the overview that the maps provided, a sense of where places exist relative to each other. Good navigators will use a map when laying out their course. I sometimes remember to do this.
I-70 across Illinois was relatively uneventful, except for one area where traffic was stopped and backed up for a couple of miles. When we got to the bottleneck, it was one police cruiser stopped on the side of the road with a broken down school bus. Rubberneck syndrome struck again.
|Seen near Terre Haute|
|Another oldie but a goodie up on the left|
We stopped briefly at the Indiana Welcome Center. I'm not sure if I was reassured to find that the inner rest rooms doubled as storm shelters.
We continued on to Indianapolis, where the GPS had a different opinion of how to deal with the city. It, as usual, wanted me to bomb right through the middle. I prefer to follow I-465 south around the city to catch I-69. Things were tense for a ways as the Australian lady who lives in the little box on my windshield kept saying "recalculating", sounding more and more exasperated each time.
As we made our way around the city, a lady driving a Red Wing Shoes ten ton truck mistook us for an open space in traffic and tried to change lanes. The Avalanche has a fine horn which I demonstrated for her. From her expression, she seemed to think it was my fault that we were in the spot she wanted to occupy.
North of Muncie, we stopped at a Petro truck stop in the middle of nowhere for fuel and a sandwich. The Subway has a limited election of meat and the toaster wasn't working but the buns were really fresh. We were able to get a ham and provolone (why can't US Subways carry Swiss?) on 9 grain to split, which suited us just fine. I called ahead to our usual Super 8 in Auburn for a room and was told there were lots.
|Me and my shadow.......|
|Sundown over Indiana cornfields|
It was freshly dark when we pulled into Auburn. First stop was at Dairy Queen, where Sandy wanted to try their pumpkin pie blizzard. I passed. Soon Sandy wished she had too.
The Super 8 was almost empty. The girl working the desk had her kids there, an unusual situation. We checked in and I did some work with the photos of the day and the map before climbing into bed. That was when I found a little flat bug crawling across my sheet and killed it. Soon after, there was a second one. In all our years of travels, we have never encountered bedbugs. We gathered our few things together and I took the second carcass to the desk, where I told the girl we were leaving. She wasn't able to give me a credit on my card but said her manager was coming in at 1:00 AM and would be able to give me a refund in the morning.
There are a lot of other motels in Auburn, but hidden on the other side of I-69 is a delightful Hampton Inn. The desk clerk was both pretty and professional and the hotel was wall appointed and immaculate. It costs half again what the Super 8 cost but, in this case, you get way more than you pay for.
Before we got to sleep on the awesome Hampton mattresses and pillows, I got confirmation that I have probably never encountered a bedbug before. I had broken out in hives, large angry red welts all over my upper body. Research tells me that this is a histamine reaction some people get when they are bitten by the little parasites. The rash only lasted an hour and then they were gone, leaving me a few red bites in two separate locations. I am thankful we got out of there when we did. They won't get a good review on TripAdvisor.
Today's Route (700 Avalanche miles):