November 19, 2009

Road Trip!!!

At last! I finally got a chance to leave the great state of Tennessee. To celebrate my latest trip around the sun and, finally getting some vacation time, SF and I hit the road to explore St. Louis, MO, and visit his hometown of Palmyra, MO, which just happens to be right next door to Hannibal, home to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Mark Twain. Alright!!!

The stars must be aligned. I pulled up to the airport just as he stepped out of the door. Unbelievable! I'm either late and he's waiting or the plane is late and I'm waiting. Not this time. Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

We've got it planned. No rushing for us...have a leisurely morning, hit the road around noon. St. Louis is 5 hours from the Big Rip; Palmyra 2 hours from St. Louis. Seven hours to our destination. Hook up Ms. Maggie; hook up the cell; hook up the camera batteries. Everything is a go.

We're off. Breakfast in Dyersburg. 45 minutes later, if that, we're in Missouri--Dyersburg is just across the river. We've politely asked Maggie to take us via the quickest route so, when we reach the split for Rte.412, to the left, and St. Louis, to the right, she told us to go left. Woo hoo! We're going to cut time off of this 7 hour drive. Whiz through Kennett, MO. Oh, no! Can't spend ANY time in this burg. This is where they're trying to send that woman to jail for 15 years. Just a talking and a talking--amend that. I'm talking; SF is answering. Admiring the view. What's this? Turnoffs for Springfield and Branson? Hold up!! This IS NOT where we want to go! They are at the opposite end of the state!

Now, I'd looked at a map to see where Branson was in relation to St. Louis because, being a huge country music fan, it is on my list of places to go. So, I'd already knocked that out as being an option on this trip. Maggie is just chirping along. We're in the Ozarks! Up one mountain and down the next. Narrow, winding, steep roads with no margin for error. Towns with populations of 3 and 4 hundred people. SAY WHAT? Not a BLACK face in sight. Anywhere. Autumnal foliage in beautiful display but it's starting to get dark and we don't know where the hell we are. Got to rely on Maggie. Lawd, lawd. Please let us get out of these mountains before dark and back on a major highway, with a sign saying St. Louis straight ahead. Talking about being outside the comfort zone. See a sign saying that the road ahead is closed. Really? You know it is the road that Maggie has us on, right?

But the Lord looks out for fools and babies. As we go down the closed road, we meet two members of the road crew who show us on a map exactly how far off track we are and one offers to lead us back to the main highway. Hallelujah! Did I give praise too soon? He took off like a bat out of hell. His taillights disappeared in a flash. Guess he didn't want to be on those dark back roads, either. Finally, we reached a semblance of civilization and got directions to the main highway. Stopped at a Mickey Dee for a potty stop (thank you bladder for cooperating throughout this ordeal) and a quick bite. Walked in and all eyes were on us. Did I mention that there wasn't a BLACK face anywhere around in this neck of the woods?

Two hours later, we reach St. Louis. Bright lights! Thank you, Jesus! Maggie will never know how close she was to being pitched from the top of those mountains. Two hours later, we're in Hannibal, MO. It is a little after 10 p.m. A 7-hour-drive turned into 10. Talking about whipped puppies!

Here is the consolation prize. The young man at the desk in Hannibal said that the same thing happened to him. He was driving from TX to Hannibal and plugged in the shortest or quickest route and it took him all over east jablip as well. Something about if the route, no matter how circuitous, is just a mile shorter, then that is the route you'll take. From now on, I'm plugging in "most use of freeways."

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