Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Day 19 - Home

Day 19
Richmond, IN - New Boston, NH
Miles Driven - 855.8
Total Time in Transit - 14h 35m
View from hotel - OUR YARD!

Last night was bad.
Not only was the Days Inn filthy and smelly and noisy, I spent the entire night sick with worry about my lost ipod.

I could have dropped it at the rest stop where we had leftover Mexican food. That was about a 5 hour drive from here.

I also could have dropped it at the gas station where we fueled up last night. That was a mere 4 hours away. In the wrong direction.

As worries tend to do, my worries had a party in my head, delightfully prancing about, multiplying, and extrapolating into all sorts of mind-boggling contingencies.

I didn't have a passcode on my ipod and it was connected to my email for the trip.
My itunes account was open and available on it.

And the pictures.

Thousands of pictures of our trip. Including my only pictures of bringing my only son to college.

I finally gave up on the idea of trying to sleep when the sun worked its way through the grimy curtains and set the mold spores in the room to twinkling like asthma-inducing fairy sparkles.

I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on a sweatshirt, and headed down to Towanda to tear it apart in a desperate last attempt at finding my ipod.

Yes. I found it.

It was tucked sideways and standing on end in a compartment in the dashboard. I had looked right at it and run my hand over it last night, but in the dark, I hadn't even noticed it.

I was so happy that the sound of the 6:13 train didn't even bother me.


I ran back into the room and Kerri looked at me blearily through the swirling cloud of mold spores.

"You found it, didn't you?" she asked.
I smiled, but stopped quickly because mold spores were getting stuck between my teeth.
I nodded. "Yup. Let's get the heck out of here and go home."

The parking lot. The tan bridge on the right is the train tracks that run right next to the motel.

The view from our room. Now, in the light, I can see other, possibly less filthy, hotels.

Hey! That's our wedding anniversary!

I took a few pictures to help us remember our stay in Richmond.

Moldy shower curtain.

Moldy tub drain.

Moldy bathroom floor.

More moldy bathroom floor.

Obligatory dog, howling from the back of the pickup in the parking lot.

Hey, Days Inn - use us for your next commercial!
We hit the road and kept hitting the road.
We drove all day and well into the night, stopping only for gas and, mysteriously, ice cream.

Somewhere selfie!

We spent a lovely half hour or so in Pennsylvania.

Somewhere else selfie!

Storm Clouds of Doom™.

Ice cream in New York!

The trip odometer. Wait for it...

BOOM! 8,000 miles in 19 Days.
Actually, the final tally was 8,299.2 miles when we got home.

We eventually got home just after midnight.

Our chicken was comfortably roosted in the maple tree outside the kitchen.
The beds were made.
The bathroom was mold-free.

We had a very, very good night's sleep.

And when we woke up the next day, we got the text from Alex.

Time to start packing again.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Day 18 - Why Yes, We Did Have Big Fun In Uranus. And the Fudge was Delicious. Thanks For Asking.

Day 18
Elk City, OK - Richmond, IN
Miles Driven - 931.8
Total Time In Transit - 15 h 50m
View From Hotel - Prostate Exams

We woke up to a delightful gray day overlooking The Rib Shack in Elk City, OK and prepared for a long day on the road by eating the same hotel breakfast that is served at every hotel in the US.

There are some slight regional variations, of course. Oatmeal in the Northeast. Grits down south. Biscuits and Sausage Gravy everywhere except the Northeast.

But there is always coffee. There are always bleak, flavorless muffins.

After taking our fill of coffee and Muffins of Despair, we set out for what would turn out to be a VERY long day on the road.

The scenic Rib Shack, as seen from our room.

Tori is color coordinating with the hotel carpets. Again.

Elk Selfie from the parking lot of the Rib Shack.

From the Rib Shack, we set off on our most ambitions (read, "insane") day on the road yet. The idea of yet another hotel breakfast was a motivating factor in getting home as quickly as possible.

"It's 1,760 miles from Elk City, OK to New Boston, NH," I said as we piled into Towanda. "Let's be home in two days."
Kerri nodded.
Tori nodded.

We were off.

We weren't on the road for too long before we saw a slew of billboards for the Cherokee Trading Post.

"Look! Billboards!" I squealed.
"I thought you wanted to get home quickly," Tori whined.
"But... BILLBOARDS!" I argued with stunning verbal acuity.

Naturally, we stopped. And it only cost me $90!

It's only 4 miles away!  And they have BUFFALO BURGERS!

We're almost there! 

Oh boy! I can SMELL the buffalo burgers.

It looked like a sort of sad strip mall in a depressed part of town.

Cherokee Selfie!

The majestic buffalo.

The reality of the sad, penned-in majestic buffalo, living at the strip mall outside the KOA Kampground.

But inside, they had a wide variety of crap that nobody needs. You want to look like a cowboy? Hooo-boy, you done come to the right place!

Furs, skulls, crosses. 'Mericuh!

A wide variety of authentic imitation Indian blankets.

Find your name on a knife!

Wolf shirts. Let us say no more.

Gun accessories. At least their camera gave the appearance of being plugged in.

Snake-skin belts to hang your gun accessories from.

Snakes with the skins still on them. Please don't hang gun accessories from these.

Seriously. What. The. Heck. Somebody jammed a can into a snake?
Who does this?
What is wrong with you?

Pocket flutes?
And what is with those hats?

98% snake-free peace pipes.

Hey! Why are you selling this here?

A stuffed, mounted rattlesnake. Because... Actually I cannot even conceive of why.

But somebody could. It's sold and on layaway!
Who puts a stuffed snake on layaway?

The snake is not happy about it. And, really, I can't blame him.

It's ALWAYS Christmas at the Cherokee Trading Post!
And nothing says Merry Christmas like some shotgun shell tree lights.

Because it's the season of Peace, Love, and Shotgun Shells.
What Would Jesus Shoot?

Looking for a last minute stocking stuffer?
How about a fashionable and functional rattlesnake head keychain?

Or, perhaps, a keychain from the other end.
What happened to the middle of these snakes?

The ol' 86 oz. Soda Bucket.

Route 66 bells for some reason.

And thimbles.

Shot glasses (large an extra large sizes available).

Remember Rt 66 is the reason for the season.

You don't like snake heads? How about cow heads? YOu'll never lose your keys again with one of these bad boy keychains.

These, surprisingly, were not made out of snake parts. 
Raccoon parts, yes. Not snake parts, though.

Too young for a real gun? It's never too early to start practicing!

My Grandma went to The Cherokee Trading Post and all I got were some Chinese toy guns.

Angry Indians. And, really, who can blame them? 
Pocket toothpick holders and a "Bullet Knife" Is it a bullet? Is it a knife? It's BOTH!!

I may have mentioned Kerri's love of souvenir crushed pennies. I had to whisk her past this display of accessories for those pennies. 

But I know what somebody is getting for Christmas! It will look lovely, lit up by the shotgun shell lights on the tree.

When the overwhelming awfulness of the place finally took hold of me, Tori and I waited outside while Kerri purchased a piece of pottery that had better not have been made in China.

We climbed back in Towanda and headed homeward; not be distracted from our drive again.
Nope. No way.
No more stops. Really. I mean it this time.

Except that Tori had to pee.

Rest stop Selfie!

The bathroom had a startling variety of gifts on sale.

"Delightfully Delicious!"

Kerri refused to give me any quarters to buy a souvenir.

And then, back on the road, ready for adventure!

Or, possibly, a nap.

Call Phone Free Vehicle. Can you tell what's coming next? 
Of course. The driver, talking away on his cell phone.

Okay. Now we're going home. No more stopping for silly things. No more...


If you could resist stopping at the Uranus, MO Fudge Factory, you are a stronger person than I am.

We're getting closer.

Is that it? IS THAT IT??
We skidded to a stop for some fudge, fresh from Uranus.

This town has it all! 

Uranus, MO is a town that fully embraces what it is. They have a bar, a tattoo parlor, a burlesque house and and indoor ax throwing facility called... wait for it... The Axe Hole.

Uranus Selfie!

Meanwhile, across the street from the Fudge Factory...

Downtown Uranus.

Didn't believe me, did you?

If you took them; bring them back.

Seems like the perfect downtown to me.

Why yes we are, thank you very much.

I felt better letting them handle my fudge after reading this.

The obligatory two-headed goat in the candy store.

"Thanks for picking Uranus," they say to every customer after you purchase fudge.

So sweet and delicious!

There is a petting zoo coming soon. You'd better believer we'll be back.
Bye, Uranus. We loved you!
 We drove on through Bourbon where the water towers are used for a better purpose than storing silly old water.
Kerri would not let me stop.

She wouldn't let me stop here either. Even after I bought her fudge!

We passed briefly through St. Louis as dusk was upon us. You can sort of see the arch through the bug-crusted windshield.

Leftover Mexican Food Selfie!

We drove on and on and on and on until 1:30 a.m. when I couldn't take it any more.
We finally got off the road and pulled into a Days Inn that was the only place in town.

I got the last room in the place and as we wearily unloaded our bags from the back of the van, a train horn blasted right behind us.

We turned in dumb horror to watch the mile-long train roar past the motel, 100 yards from our room.

It turned out to be like the joke from The Blues Brothers movie.

"How often does the train go by?"
"So often, you won't even notice."

But we did notice.

We went into the room and were assaulted with the smell of mold and dirt.

I was too exhausted to even care. I needed sleep.

I reached for mu ipod to see if there were any texts from Alex, but it was gone.

My ipod, with the thousands of pictures I had taken on our trip, the pictures of sending our son off to college - all of them... gone.

I spent the night wondering where it could possibly be and if there was any way I could get it back. I was sick with worry about it.

The trains roared past, the mold spores lodged in my sinuses, and I stared into the greasy orange twilight of the filthy motel room and didn't sleep a wink.

Tomorrow - It's 850 miles to home. My ipod is gone and we're out of fudge. It's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.