Saturday, September 09, 2006

Plenty More Pictures

(edited 12/23/06)

More pictures than you can possibly imagine were up on this page. But they filled up our web account -- so we're currently working on editing them down to a manageable number. Check back.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Jiggity Jig

Location: Meerkat Meade
Miles: 6885

We woke up this morning in Louisville, KY. Had a lovely brunch at the Waffle House (which, for reasons that are lost in the mists of antiquity, we always call "Waffle Hose"), then got on the road (I-64) a little after noon.

At about 3:00 pm we stopped for a rest break at Super Quik in Grayson, KY.

We crossed over into West Virtucky, and about 4:30 stopped for gas at Speedway in Elkview, WV. We did not see any elk. That's okay, we've seen elk this trip.

In Charleston, WV we picked up I-79 north, and followed that to I-68. Why the circuitous route? Well, we REALLY didn't want to go through Ohio again.

At 7:00 pm we entered Marylandtucky, and stopped for gas in Friendsville.

From there it was a straight shot east on I-68 to I-70, then I-70 to the Baltimore Beltway. We pulled into the driveway here at Meerkat Meade at just a few minutes past 10 pm.

So our 6,885-mile odyssey is over...but tomorrow, when I am more awake, I will update the blog and the map, and then we'll start working on web pages for all our pictures and such.

And if you are one of the Chosen Few, you may be getting a present. Be very afraid.



Four States and Fred

Location: Louisville, KY
Miles: 6305

Saturday morning we awoke in Springfield, the time we stopped, we were in Louisville, Kensylvania. In between, we passed through Illitucky and Indianatucky -- meaning that today we were in four different states.

Let's see. Our first stop was in Dixon, MO, where we visited Thomas's friend Fred King and his lovely family.

(above) Fred and Family.

Back on the road again, we were on our way to Meramec Caverns when we made a serendipitous stop at the Toy & Truck Museum.

(above) The sign for the Toy & Truck Museum. We were particularly amused by the juxtaposition of "A Truckers Must" with "Absolutely no Tractor Trailers"

The Musuem, run by Bruce and his lovely wife [their last name is on the brochure, which is in Eurovan, but it's 3:30 in the morning and I can't lay my hands on it right away]. A converted Stuckey's, the Museum is a great place, crammed full of thousands of toys from the 1920s onward.

(above) Inside the Toy & Truck Museum

We then toured Meramec Caverns, where the very capable Jeremy gave an informative and amusing tour. Meramec Caverns is amazing, and definitely should not be missed.

(above) Inside Meramec Caverns

We were on the road again by 7:00 pm, and stopped briefly for Italian fast food at Fazoli's in St. Louis.

At 10:50, with gas getting low, we were on a frantic search through southern Illitucky for an open gas station. Southern Illitucky has a lot in common with, say, rural Arizona...i.e. there are no big towns and few gas stations. We finally found one ten miles off the Interstate in Fairfield, IL.

We drove on, and about midnight we started looking for a motel off I-64 in Evanston, IN. All the motels we checked were full. The combination of Labor Day weekend with some NASCAR event meant every room was full. We drove on, checking every motel (there was one about every three exits), but no luck. So we continued to and past Louisville, KY. Finally, at a little past 2 am, we found a Red Roof Inn that had vacancies -- and discovered that we were now in Eastern Time, so it was really past 3 am.

A quick blog entry later, now it's time for sleep.

Tomorrow: drive like hell until we get home.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back Across the Fold

Location: Springfield, MO
Miles: 5783

We were up and out of the room by 11 am. We headed east on I-40, and after a while we ran across this enormous field of windmills, most of them happily milling away.

Oooo-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain....

Soon we were past the fold on our Rand McNally Road Atlas, which puts us on the same page as home.

According to our maps and guidebooks, there was no much along I-40 in Oklatucky to interest us. Somehow, the Will Rogers Museum was not that great a draw. This meant that we would have to entertain ourselves, which can be dangerous. It usually involves shopping for tacky things.

About 1:30 we stopped at the shopping-for-tacky-things mecca of the midwest: Indian Trading Post in Calumet, OK. Not only can you see the billboards for miles, but there is a giant Indian-head sign, a display of frontier life featuring synthetic bison, covered wagons, tipis, mock windmills, and a dozen and a half old tractors.

Don petting a synthetic bison.

Thomas peeking out from a synthetic tipi.

We spent a good half an hour at Indian Trading Post, buying gifts for many of our friends. (Be afraid, friends...especially Mr. Ric.)

By 3:00 pm we reached Oklatucky City, where we stopped at Wal-Mart and bought Star Wars toys and some groceries (coke, cheez-its, and bananas). Then we went to a local Toys-R-US and got more Star Wars figures. We got gas at $2.699, which was probably the cheapest we've seen on this trip. We finished our stay in Oklatucky City with lunch at Sonic.

We continued east on I-44, still following the route of old US Route 66. We stopped about 7:00 pm at the rest stop in Vinita, OK, and found ourselves in...wait for it...the World's Largest McDonald's. Yes, larger than the new one in Beijing, much larger than the one in Moscow. The World's Largest McDonald's is so big that it extends clear across the Interstate.

The world's largest McDonald's

The World's Largest McDonald's has a gift shop, and for confirmed tack-o-rama fans like us, it was nirvana. We bought postcards, we bought a jigsaw puzzle, and we bought the single tackiest item that we've found on our entire trip: a World's Largest McDonald's snow globe. We would put up a picture, but the snow globe is packed away in multiple layers of styrofoam and bubble wrap. We'll try to remember to take a picture when we get home.

Now, I-44 crosses directly from Oklatucky to Missouritucky, but we exited in Miami and clipped the corner of Kansatucky, just so we could say we'd been there. During the 10-or-so miles that we were in Kansatucky, we stopped at the Wal-Mart in lovely Baxter Springs, where we purchased floppy hats and Star Wars toys. (We've both been wanting floppy hats ever since we were in Yellowstone, but we could never find ones we liked. The ones at Wal-Mart were on clearance for $5 each.)

At 8:50 pm they announced that the Wal-Mart was closing in ten minutes. Yes, apparently in Baxter Springs, Wal-Mart closes at 9 pm.

At 9:09 pm we crossed over into Missouritucky and rejoined I-44. Then we drove, drove, drove, until about 11:00 pm we stopped in Springfield, MO. We drove past a Wal-Mart that was open 24 hours a day: obviously, we were not in Kansas anymore.

We found the Krystal Aire Inn & Suites, a non-smoking hotel with wireless Internet access (it said so on the sign) and settled in for the night.

Tomorrow: drive, drive, drive. And maybe some caverns that we saw advertised.

Friday, September 01, 2006

That Left Turn...

Location: Erick/Sweetwater, OK
Miles: 5349

(above) We knew we should have taken that left turn in Albuquerque...

We weren't able to hook up with Malu, but we did find two good comic stores in Albuquerque: Comic Warehouse (where we bought a bunch of comics) and Astro Zombies (where we bought a bunch of Star Wars stuff).

We had lunch at Satellite Coffee, then followed Central Avenue (old Route 66) out of town. Along the way, we passed some fun places; here's a picture especially for our friend June:

We made good time, and a little before 5 pm we stopped at Stuckey's. This was always a favorite stop for the Sakers family on road trips. We bought lots of tacky souvenirs, including a box of Stuckey's peanut brittle and a Stuckey's Pecan Log Roll.

During our last fifty miles in New Mexico, we passed through the outskirts of a tremendous thunderstorm.

Soon we were in Texatucky, zooming east across the panhandle. We had to shake our heads at the "Welcome to Texas" sign; underneath it said, "Proud to be the home of President George W. Bush." Perhaps the word "proud" means something different in Texatucky.

We were very conscious of being in Texatucky; we tried our best not to be gay or black the whole time we were there.

About 8:00 pm we stopped in Amarillo to get bread and such. It was stinky -- not in the same way as the Great Salt Lake, more various smells reminiscent of cattle. We ran into a lady who was going west on I-40, and wondering where there was a Wal-Mart along her way. We whipped out our Wal-Mart edition of the Rand McNally Road Atlas, and soon found a Wal-Mart just 10 miles away in Amarillo. It was good to be of service to a fellow traveller.

Finally, about 10:45 pm, we crossed the border into Oklatucky. We stopped at the first exit we saw with motels, and settled into the Day's Inn.

A brief word about road signs. You know those green-and-white signs that tell you what towns are up next? Every once in a while, we run across a pair of towns that make a person's name. In the past we've seen Mauzy Broadway (Don used that one for an alien drag queen); Washington Westwood Hohokus (now a character in Dance for the Ivory Madonna; and our current favorite, a really great porn star name: Ashley Sugar Notch.

We expected to see a lot of name road signs on this trip, but so far we haven't run into anything really good. Until tonight: Erick Sweetwater. We figure he might be a colleague of Ashley's.

Tomorrow: to Oklahoma City and beyond.