The Big Trip

Day 8 - Boonville to Columbus, Indiana


Boonville, Kansas - 11:30 a.m. Another late checkout. Sigh. I love to write. It's just that the time disappears. Long day of driving today. Wolf down double burger (plain) and Diet Coke from McDee's and I'm gone. St. Louis is two hours and change; Indianapolis is another three. I'm expected in Columbus, thirty minutes south of Indy, at 5:30 p.m. Called Kelly last night; set the time with her hubby, as she'd gone to sleep. Fire off a mail message this morning, noting anticipated delay. 12:50 p.m. Cross Missouri River. Exit and look for convenient place to take photo. Find bluff-side winery; vantage point too far to walk. No time. Lose additional precious minutes fumbling with camera. Been getting error messages lo these last couple of days. Change battery, though the indicator says I'm fine. That doesn't do it. Discover the lens (35-70mm) appears to have a sticky shutter. Guess either a cleaning or repair is in order. After all, the camera is several years old. And 1000+ shots in the red since I borrowed same. Guess I'll be going "wide" or "up close" for the remainder of my picture-taking.

Mambo Number Five - Return to freeway. Hear effective public-service announcement for railroad-crossing safety: a car running over a "pop" can crushes with the same amount of force as a train hitting an automobile. How 'bout that? 12:10 p.m. Rush is ranting about the Dems and their planned use of Lou Bega's "Mambo #5" at the convention. He also plays a parody of the song, supposedly sung by Al Gore and listing the many "acquaintances" of William Jefferson Clinton. ("A little bit of Monica's what I need," "A little trailer-trash in jeans," etc.) He has his moments. Has excellent "bumper" music, too. (Those song snippets played between announcer and commercial.) Other late-morning Missouri radio offerings: Paul Harvey, farming reports, and country music a-go go. Bridgework in Columbia slows traffic to 50. The bastards. Who knows when I'm gonna get to Indiana. Hot sun on my legs. Getting a tan on this trip. Think I'm losing weight, too. No shortage of post-noon traffic, I can regrettably report. This stretch of I-70 seems the busiest since joining the Interstate in Utah.

Bass Pro Shops - 12:30 p.m. Tractor-trailer keeps flashing turn signal. No one wants to pass him. Sign for "Highway Z." These lettered highways crack me up. Fat Man now suggesting that everyone in California pull a prank when Bill and Hill take the stage tonight. Yawn. Billboard for "Nostalgaville, USA - Elvis - 14 miles." And another for "Walnut Bowl Land." And another for a place called "Ozarkland." ("T-shirts! Souvenir Mugs! Shot Glasses!") Won't be seeing much of Missouri. The AAA tour book, however, lists attractions a-plenty: Arabic Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, the Still Natural Osteopathic Museum in Kirsville, Laura Ingell Wilder's and daughter Rose Wilder Lane's home in Mansfield, the boyhood home of Mark Twain in Hannibal (also the boyhood home of Samuel Clements, I hear), the Natural Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville; the St. Louis Science Center; Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield (yee-haw!), Memoryville, USA, a car museum in Rollo (if you can remember how to get there), and, of course, the infamous country music Mecca of Branson. In fact, I'd planned a stop at the latter before the whole "drive-away thing" and accompanying mileage allotment.

The Gang - 12:38 p.m. Mitch Miller's very funny "Sweet Violets" on the player.

"There once was a farmer who took a young Miss,
in back of the barn where he gave her a...
Lecture on horses and chickens and eggs,
and told her that she had such beautiful...
Manners... etc."

Another damn lane closure. Road construction sucks. Still need to arrange transportation from Alexandria, Virginia, to Raleigh. Probably rent a car. Have a friend in Maryland, near Alex. Hope to catch her to connect, bum ride to the rental place, and, if I be tired, accept offer to crash. (Though I've heard her companion felines have been known to stare at strangers all night.) Guess I'll call the car places tonight. Tomorrow, I'll call the Great Grape's owner, per the required twenty-four notice. To arrange a meeting place. Memo to self: find fedora and trench coat to wear with sunglasses.

I Wonder What Happens If We Play It Backwards? - 12:50 p.m. Okay, I'm bored. What to do, what to do? Think up Missouri puns? More list-making? Remember something else that's only marginally related to the trip? Decide to play with rear windshield-wiper controls instead. 12:55 p.m. See billboard for "Tic Toc Shop." Do you suppose they sell clocks? Hear hilarious country-music lyric while flipping through stations:

"Her daddy drank all day and her mommy took drugs"

Wonder if a truck or trailer figgers into it? Spot another amusing billboard: "Our Lady of the Sorrows Shrine." Don't any of Our Ladies handle blessings? Notice, now and then, that I confuse the radio and air-conditioning controls. Reach to switch stations and change the fan speed, instead. Hilarious. 12:58 p.m. Neck is no longer bleeding. Dry-shaved this morning, like a fool, and have been wearing a couple-dozen cuts, since.

He's Making Puns Again - 1:00 p.m. National news. More on the Firestone flap. Wonder how many times they'll be sued. (Ah, the joys of a litigious society...) 1:01 p.m. Pass "High-Hill Cabaret." Rats, they're closed. Question about current events: does Social Security Solvent remove stains from garnished wages? Radio says Vice President is in Kansas City today. Glad I missed that traffic tie-up. 1:07 p.m. Still bored. Getting tired, too. Time to stop and do something. Or have heart-racing near-accident. Periodically pass farms. Question: do talking horses greet each other with hay? And didja hear about the sitcom about four transient farm workers, who talk about nothing while going from field to field, posting "no trespassing" notices? The show's called... Sign Field. Sorry. 1:09 p.m. Wal-Mart, 17 miles. Wohoo! 1:10 p.m. Outlet Mall, next exit! Even better! Warrenton. 1:45 p.m. Back on Interstate. Successfully resisted urge to purchase Corgi E-One Seattle pumper for sentimental versus collectibility reasons. Score at a music score, though.

He's Making Lists Again - Usually these "music outlets" are all high prices and poor selections. Thus, I'm flabbergasted to find a recent Raven reissue for $11.99. Even the biggest national stores haven't carried this one! ("All For One," with three bonus tracks co-produced by Accept's Udo Dirkschneider, who also appears on "Inquisitor" and a duet of "Born to be Wild.) Also find sale-priced copy of Thin Lizzy's "One Night Only." Recently recorded live album with guitarist John Sykes fronting. (See any Blue Murder effort for example of his singing.) Third item is a riotous compilation of newly recorded "Stairway to Heaven" covers.

Don't recognize a single artist, but the styles are easy to identify:

  1. Female-voiced, dance-pop
  2. Funky, 70's disco-rock
  3. Swingin' lounge music with male/female duet
  4. Australian '60's rock
  5. A la The Doors
  6. Opera with male/female duet
  7. A la The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" with female vocals
  8. Elvis with "Viva Las Vegas" beat
  9. A la The B-52's (I think)
  10. A la The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"
  11. Reggae, mon
  12. Spoken word with a Brit
Brassiere Conundrums - 2:00 p.m. More billboards. "Free Elvis Museum." Another: "Dentures in One Day! $99." Question for truckers: do cow carriers have to stop at whey stations? 2:03 p.m. Wal-Mart, as promised! Don't stop. No time. 2:06 p.m. Pass Hummer dealership. Never seen one of those before. I'll take two! "Got a bra problem?" asks a billboard for "Ana's Bra Shop." They're even on the Web! www.brashop.com! (Show your support today...) 2:10 p.m. Slow, drippy cement mixer enters freeway right in front of me. The bastard. Some billboards are "two-fers." Such as a Burger King whopper plugged alongside a local judicial candidate. ("Judge Rex M. Burlison.") Work zone again. 45 mph. This bites. Realize, while sampling the above new music, that I've been sorely riff-deprived for the last two weeks. Memo to self: bang head upon return to Raleigh. 2:14 p.m. Bank sign says 97 degrees. Ugh. Construction now slowing traffic to a halt. Double ugh. 2:16 p.m. A mall! And I still don't stop! Damn timetable.

Ants In The Pants - Finish sampling new music. Too antsy to listen at length, so return to radio. Hank Sr. singing "Cold, Cold Heart." There's a voice that'll send shivers. Must be entering a metro area. Fast food and car dealerships everywhere. Another bank clock says 99 degrees. Well, which one is it? More amusing ads: "Warehouse of Dinettes," "Boot Camp Headquarters," and "CB Shop." 2:22 p.m. Noah's Ark on the right. With animals. Oddly, this hasn't made national news. 2:23 p.m. Cross Missouri River again. 2:30 p.m. St. Louis! Or close enough to qualify. Alas, Louie is not there to meet me. See exit for I-270 to Memphis. Must... resist... Graceland... urge. Marker 235; one mile from Lambeth Field and traffic has stopped. Local talk host telling restaurant horror story, using the words "chef," "hand," "butt," and "crack" in same sentence. 2:38 p.m. Exit after too many minutes of stopping and going. Reenter immediately, after observing that the delay is this very interchange.

Grim Business - Follow a hearse for a mile. Decide that I should keep a safe distance. After all, if he brakes, it'll be curtains. Sorry. Exit 240. University of Missouri at St. Louis. No Arch or skyline sightings yet. Pair of jumbo jets overhead, oncoming. I love being around airports. Still more lane closures. Orange barrels everywhere. Good grief, what an annoying stretch of Interstate! 2:45 p.m. There's the Arch! 2:50 p.m. Exit to find spot to shoot Great Grape with great Arch in background. Then St. Louis. (Been there, done that. Two summers ago. Did the Arch, wandered the waterfront, and was smacked in the side of my rental car by a red light-running pick-up truck.) 3:00 p.m. Illinois! Point zero eight block alcohol limit, notes accompanying sign. Measly 65 mph speed limit, too. This state sucks. Keep seeing fire stations from freeway. 3:01 p.m. Cross enormous railroad switching yard. 235 miles to Indy. Add 30 for Columbus and get 265 total. Ain't gonna make 5:30, that's for sure. More like 7:30. Odd local news item on radio: man attacks semi-truck with backhoe. Suspect being held for "mental evaluation." Meanwhile, Mike performs some math. Only 853 miles left for entire trip!

That Which Does Not Kill Or Annoy The Hell Out Of Us - Well, one thing I've learned on this trip is covering 300 miles in a single day is far harder than it looks. There are gas stops, food stops, bathroom breaks, sights to see, unexpected delays, and whatever time is taken for spontaneous changes to the above. I reckon I'll do better next time. Road wise, Illinois is smoother than "Moe." Somewhat. The terrain is pleasantly green and pretty much flat. And not nearly the campy cornucopia of roadside ads! 3:25 p.m. Traffic stopped cold. Middle of nowhere. Roadway resurfacing. Barely move for 15 minutes. I take Emergency Bat Detour, to Highway 40 east. Earlier observed bullying tanker truck blocking both merging lanes. That bastard. Radio host touting the virtues of "books on tape" on long road trips. Tell me about it. Pass Federal prison on Highway 40. Stop on shoulder and take 360-degree photo. 4:45 p.m. Effingham. Stop for gas. Call Kelly. Nobody home. Leave message to except Yours Delayed around 7:30 or 8:00. Resume riding.

Columbus - Indiana looks identical to Illinois. Bigger billboards and that's about it. 6:45 p.m. Terra Haute, to call Kelly again. Nobody home, but her message now includes "if this is Mike, call me on my cell phone." She double checks her directions and notes that I'm ninety minutes out. And most of those pass pretty quickly. The terrain is an agreeably bland swath of green stuff and vaguely rolling flat lands. And with gas 'n' food stops every ten miles. 7:20 p.m. Indy airport to left. Big! Hafta come back and see that one another day, too. 7:25 p.m. Take wrong turn on Interstate. Plus (slight) delay for construction and photos of sun setting behind airport. Hello, goodbye Indianapolis! 7:45 p.m. I-65, south to Columbus. 30 minutes out and only two and a half hours behind schedule. Sigh. Bad planning sucks. (Memo to self: next time, in addition to purchasing a prepaid phone card so a second mortgage isn't required when the long distance bill arrives, use Internet to check for road construction on planned routes.)
 
 
Beloved Former Co-Worker - 7:52 p.m. Remove Ray-Bans. Hey, it's not as dark as I thought! 7:58 p.m. Just outside Edinburg. 3000 miles! Wheeee! 8:10 p.m. Arrive at Kelly's. Nearly dark. They live close to the Interstate. And right around the corner from a fire station! I pause outside their subdivision to swap tank top for tee-shirt and short shorts for just shorts. Leave by 9:10 p.m.
(She's "in a family way" and is bedding early these days.) Whirlwind, wonderful visit. Explain Great Grape. Take pictures. Deliver gifts (box of grits, miniature NC license tag, etc.). Take more pictures. Tell about work. Take more pictures. Hugs. Smiles. Knees licked by dog.
kelly.jpg

kelly_ 
pretending.jpg

patton.jpg
Retrace steps to Days Inn just around corner. Haggle with 13 year-old looking clerk. $49 is the lowest she can go. Discuss her pending move to California. She thinks the Mojave area will be hot. Then she reveals her other possible destination: Jacksonville, North Carolina. (For military-related reasons.) I correct her thinking on the nature of uncomfortable. Snack. Write. Sleep.
 

Total mileage today: 450

Total mileage total: 3022

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
 


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