2014 Expedition – Days 3 & 4

First, an update from the blog itself: I have reached an inchstone! (It’s way too small to be a milestone…) My post of two days ago was my tenth, and wordpress congratulated me on it! Woo-Hoo! – I think.

Apologies to one and all for the lack of an update yesterday. Overall it was an interesting day (more in a bit), but last night I stayed with one of Toni’s college roommates and her husband (Twila was Toni’s matron of honor at our wedding), and we stayed up and watched the PowerPoint slideshow that I used at Toni’s memorial service. When that was over, it was almost midnight and I was too tired (physically) and worn out (emotionally) to put a blog entry together. Plus, I didn’t want to have to set up the security to get on their home network. So today you get a double dose.

[Question: Why are motel shower heads almost always at shoulder height? Yes, I’m tall, but I’m not that tall! So far, the only exception I’ve found is at Motel 6, and the only reason their shower heads are higher up is because the shower is designed as a quarter-round enclosure with the shower head over the opening where you get in. Everywhere else I’ve been, the shower head has been seriously low for me.]

Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my college roommates and his wife. They were *almost* coherent, having just gotten back home from a trip at 2:30 AM. Thank goodness for breakfast at restaurants! And coffee! We ended up sitting at the table for almost 2 hours, catching up with each other’s lives. It was a good time.

I left Lincoln about 1 PM and drove to Quincy, IL, a trip of about 5 1/2 hours. Along the way I ruminated about US highways, as I was following US 36 for most of the drive. Route 36 is now a four-lane divided road, albeit not a limited-access highway. I discovered that I could tell which direction was the original alignment (when it was only a two-lane road) by watching to see which direction followed the lay of the land – up, down, up, down – and which had been dug into hills and built up over valleys to smooth out the elevation changes. In some cases, there was also a difference in the width of the breakdown lane. And then there were the random sections where the original road had been left as a frontage road, or as access to farmhouses and such, and both directions of the current road had been built new.

When I got close to Quincy, I noticed the towers of a bridge over the trees ahead of me. I assumed it was the bridge across the Mississippi, but I was only half right. The bridge I could see was for the westbound lanes. The eastbound lanes cross the river on a much older (and lower!) bridge, and when I popped out of the trees onto the Mississippi, I popped onto the river! It was only a few feet (it looked like 2, but could have been 3 or 4) below the bridge due to the flooding. That got my attention!

[Random observation: I saw a mountain bike hooked onto the frame of a flatbed trailer while driving yesterday. While I’ve seen bikes carried by big rigs before, they’re usually attached to the tractor. This is the first one I’ve seen slung under a trailer.]

As I mentioned, last night I showed Toni’s memorial slide show to Twila and her husband. This morning she thanked me for watching it with her. It was harder to watch than I thought, but in another way not as hard as it could have been. There were tears, of course, but no uncontrollable sobbing like there would have been a year ago.

Today I drove down to St Louis to visit with Mary-Jane, a longtime friend from Tucson at whose Christmas party in 2006 I proposed to Toni. I showed M-J the memorial slide show, and played the accompanying music for her. The music consisted of the songs I played for Toni prior to asking her to marry me that night in ’06; the songs I played on the way home after the Christmas party; the song Toni played for me a few days later as a musical response to my proposal; and two songs I picked out especially for the memorial. Maybe in another post someday I’ll expand on all this. Or maybe not. You never know.

M-J and I spent a wonderful afternoon together and got ourselves all caught up. She had a dinner date with her family (it’s a grandson’s birthday), so I continued on my way to my stopover for the night, in Belleville, IL. And here I am!

[Random observation: I stopped by the side of the road this afternoon to take care of some, um, “business,” and a motorcycle went by. Because it was really revved up, I turned to look, just in time to see the rider pop a wheelie up the hill – IN HEAVY TRAFFIC. Talk about accidents waiting to happen…]

[Random observation: Apparently, stopping under the state sign to get a picture is a popular thing to do – when it’s safe. The first time I entered Missouri, I stopped for a picture, and I noticed there was an area of dirt that had no grass. It was a nice crescent shape, indicating that lots of other people had pulled off right there, too. 50 yards back, and 50 yards forward, the grass grew right up to the pavement, but where I stopped it was worn bare.]

[Random thought: Thank goodness for bungee cords! When I got to M-J’s, I happened to look in the mirror and I saw that the trailer’s license plate was askew. One of the 2 reflector nuts had disappeared somewhere today, and the other was backed off about 90%. I tightened the remaining nut as well as I could, and then I dug out a bungee cord to hold the other side of the plate up so it wouldn’t rattle around and fall off. I’ll fix it properly tomorrow – or the next day – but for now I have a bungee cord holding the trailer’s license plate on.]

Stats so far: 4 days; 1900 miles; 106.2 gallons of gas; about 16.5 mpg overall. Not too bad!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

From The Ground Up

Chronicling the buildup of a 6x6 Jeep CJ-6

Just North of Paradise

Sporadic Musings on Writing, Art, Natural History, Travel, and Food

Plying Through Life

Travel Stories and Other Adventures

Always Departing

Traveling through the wonderment of a curious world.

Smokey the Jeep

The adventures and evolution of a lifelong dream


The best in WWII aviation history

The Peripatetic Traveler

Thoughts about my travels - of all kinds.

Casual Travelers

because the world is too interesting to stay home


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

%d bloggers like this: