Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kalamazoo, MI to St. Louis, MO

The trip to the Root Beer Stand was a big success, as you can see from these pictures:

This morning we said goodbye to our kitties, and my mom and cousin, and hit the road around 9:30. We headed west on 94 towards Chicago, then connected with 80. We had rain for the first few hours, then it turned clear and hot.

Indiana's motto on their welcome sign was "America's Crossroads." I think a more appropriate motto would be "We sell firecrackers!" There were countless billboards advertising the largest firecracker store, the cheapest firecracker store, 2-for-1 firecrackers, etc.

One of my strongest memories of Chicagoland as a child is sitting in massive traffic jams. I can't believe that over 30 years later, the traffic has not improved. Karl was surprised by the number of trucks on the road - I guess it's just what I'm used to.

After we got on 55 South, traffic cleared right up, and it was smooth sailing. Getting gas in Illinois, I met a older woman working the cash register named Rosemary Rose!

For music, we revisted the mixed CDs made for the trip. We heard East vs. West, volumes II and III. We especially enjoyed the Decemberists. The only two duds were Everclear (!) and Hotel California (!!). I have to say that the Gypsy Kings' version of Hotel California was pretty amusing, though. Then we listened to "Super Groover", which was indeed very groovy. That put us in the mood for some James Brown. By the time we were ready for theme music, we were well into Illinois (Hello, Springfield!), so we opted for a little Wilco.

Karl spotted a bumpersticker that said, "I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy." Nuff said.

Driving through the landscape of my youth - cornfields, smily-face water towers, smoke stacks - I saw soybean fields with the following signs:

"From IL's soybean fields to America's roads: IL soy biodiesel."
"From IL's soybean fields not Middle East oil fields: IL soy biodiesel."

We crossed the Mississippi into Missouri and St. Louis around 3pm central time. Karl was impressed by the Arch - the Gateway to the West - and I regaled him with stories of being in the top of the Arch and it swaying back and forth.

In St. Louis we are staying with Karl's freshman year college roommate, Brian, and his lovely wife Christine, twin daughters Chloe and Clair, and 3 dogs Poppy, Blini, and Cocoa. They live in "Central West End", which is full of beautiful big victorian homes and cute restaurants with sidewalk seating.

The dogs have already settled in for the night, and if I want a part of the bed, I'd better stake my claim soon!

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