Look for Day 2 to be published by the end of the weekend…Another tale of our travels across the country!!!
Almost a year ago, I made mention to my wonderful wife Julie, that I wanted to make a “trip” across the country. We’ve talked about this type of adventure in the past but always said it would be a good trip to take when we are “old”. Mind you, I’m on the downhill slide to 55 and Julie is 52 years old. I don’t feel that either of us acts as though we’re in the midst of middle age.
What is middle age???? To me, middle age is nothing more than a chronology of your life. Most people view it as a mile marker that you reach during your lifetime…I personally view it as a bunch of bunk. I have a lot of living left to do and really don’t care what my chronological age is.
Back to my wonderful wife. Why is she a wonderful wife??? Because she humors me in my endeavors; whether it be purchasing a “drone” so that I can take aerial photos (did that),
building a bar from scratch with no written plans…all of the details of the bar residing in my head (did that) or planning a trip somewhere in the United States of America.
After some discussion we decided to start the planning process for this trip. First off, we needed a destination…funny thing here; our destination was Dover, Ohio…you know, Home!!! The question was which way were we going to go? North, South, East or West? We decided upon Southwest…driving across Route 66 to California. We also decided that we were not going to be the “purist” Route 66 travelers. We were going to pick up the “Mother Road” in St. Louis, not in Chicago, where the Route starts. We have been on portions of the Route in Chicago and didn’t want to add a minimum of 8 hours to the trip driving to Chicago from Dover. We also aren’t staying strictly to Route 66 since much of it is impassable with a car and some of it is no longer in existence.
Ok, so now we have a plan…when do we want to go? We needed decent weather. We didn’t want to encounter snow on this journey and we didn’t want it as hot as Hades in the Mojave. September 2016 sounded good. This left us about 10 months to plan for the trip.
Time passed…Christmas 2016 rolled around and surprise of surprises, Julie purchased me books and maps for the trip that would help us with the planning process. Books that described things to see on Route 66, places to eat along Route 66 and places to stay on Route 66.
Time to throw that first monkey wrench into the plan. I explained to Julie that we wouldn’t be making reservations anywhere along the Route. We would drive until we feel we have seen enough or until the hypnotism of the road takes its toll and its time to stop instead of pushing too hard and causing an accident. The look of horror on her face told me what she thought of this plan. Let me say this about Julie, she is spontaneous but she likes to plan…I know…that doesn’t make sense, but if you know my wife you would understand…her idea of spontaneity tends to be of the type where she wakes up, says lets go to Columbus for the night…gets on the PC and makes reservations for the weekend. Not having reservations and a set destination is pretty much a foreign concept to her.
Of course, there’s also the “scourge” of bedbugs in hotels across the country and the last thing that we wanted to do was suffer from the bites of these little bastards or bring them home to our house in Ohio…(I need to say, this is more my concern than Julies) so I checked into a website called bedbugregistry.com. That way we could check to see if there are any reports of bedbugs at the hotel that we decide to stop at…if there are reports of bedbugs, then we move on to the next hotel.
Months go by, we periodically “plan” on things that we want to see along the route…we change those plans…we decide on other things to see…we figure out very quickly that we will not be able to do all that we want to do in a two week time frame…time to start paring down the list of “must-see” items… 🙁 Unfortunately, two weeks off is the most that either of us can swing as we work as managers in our respected fields…Nursing for Julie and Safety for me…
The departure date finally arrives…it’s 5AM on September 2nd, 2016 and we’re in the driveway, the car is loaded with our luggage, the drone, (you just never know if you will need it) and a couple of sleeping bags in the event that we can’t find a hotel to sleep in…(that made for an interesting discussion with Julie). We also have a cooler with lunch meat…as a cost savings measure we decided that we wouldn’t purchase lunch on the road but would instead stop and eat in rest areas, picnic areas, etc…
We pose for the obligatory selfie with my newly purchased “selfie stick” so that we can post our time of departure on our respective Social Media platforms…FB, Twitter, etc…(if you purchase a selfie stick, make sure that you purchase one with a Bluetooth connection and a button that is not attached to the stick), and we are off!
I won’t bore you with the details of the drive across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Let’s just say that driving across farm country for 9 hours can be a bit boring. Unless of course you have some strange fetish for corn and soybeans…then this drive would be like heaven.
Our first change on the trip was arriving quickly. We were going to stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. While perusing the internet on her smartphone we discovered that the park surrounding the Arch is under reconstruction, if you were planning on going up in the Arch you needed to purchase tickets ahead of time instead of arriving and walking to the ticket booth in the park. There were limited numbers available…OK, scratch the Gateway Arch…we will take pictures as we drive by…oh and scratch going to any breweries in St. Louis. We decided to drive to Joplin, Missouri since we wouldn’t be making a stop in St. Louis.
Prior to Joplin we are planning a stop at the Route 66 Park and Museum https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park just outside St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri. That’s exactly what we did. It’s a cool place to get some history regarding the Mother Road. The Museum has some really cool neon that, at one time or another, was along the Route. They also have the obligatory gift shop (the first of many that we stopped at in 14 days).
OK, so the trip just got real!!! We’re officially at/on Route 66. Needless to say, our energy and adrenaline is high. I reassure Julie that we can make it to Joplin with little trouble…after all, I used to live there back in 1984. I know my way around.
We continue on our way with stops here and there along the route. When we get to Springfield we get off of Interstate 44 to take a large section of the remaining Route 66 into Joplin. The sun is beginning to set but I again reassure my wife that everything is OK…I used to live in the area…I know my way around. We see some really cool stuff including an old gas station,
the old Route 66 Drive-In located in Carthage,
and the giant Praying Hands in Webb City, Missouri.
We’re now moving on to Joplin. Webb City, is just outside of Joplin. We’ve been on the road for hours and hours…approximately 15 hours so far but we are just minutes away from town. Julie gets on her phone, finds an inexpensive hotel on 32nd Street, does the online reservation and we are on our way. I know exactly where I’m going (hahaha now that’s a joke). I haven’t been to this town in 31 years…things may’ve changed a bit but that’s ok. I know that I can make it to the hotel. All I have to do is get to Rangeline Road which is just beyond the airport make a left and go south until I reach 32nd street. What I didn’t take into account was that several years ago there was a devastating tornado that rolled through Joplin. This tornado changed the entire look of the city…I had no idea where I was…time to call on trusty On-Star to send directions to the vehicle. (I recommend a good GPS or a service like On-Star when making this kind of trip.)
Finally after 15 1/2 hours and 861 miles we roll into the parking lot. I need to mention, we still haven’t eaten dinner…and Julie tends to get a bit “hangry”. As luck would have it, there was an Applebee’s right across the street. I was hungry and thirsty…it was a long but exciting day and it was just day one of 14.
As a part of the trip, we decided that we would do two things whenever possible…eat at local restaurants and drink local brews. We were too tired to find a local restaurant and Applebee’s was convenient. We ordered our drinks…beers from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City (as close to local as you will get in Joplin). I had a Tank #7 Farmhouse Ale, beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish. Julie had a Unfiltered Wheat beer. Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. It is one of Boulevard Brewery’s best selling beers. We drank our beers and ate our meals in utter exhaustion then shuffled to the car for the long drive across the street to the hotel.
Ohhh yea, Rangeline Road that I couldn’t find was just a block from my hotel…I should’ve just continued driving around…I would’ve located it eventually. Honestly though, Joplin has come a long way since I lived in the area. I am happy that they have recovered from the devastating tornado.
We sat in the hotel room and discussed plans for the next day…essentially, heading southwest towards New Mexico then went to bed…anyone that says spending the day driving is not tiring is full of crap…Just Sayin!!!!
Please use the comment section for any questions that you may have regarding this part of our journey. Please add any comments that you have about our trip. I am always anxious to hear from my readers!