XM Radio ad, about 60 miles east of Indianapolis:
“How do we get 100 stations all the way out here?
Satellites. Big freaking satellites.”
Billboard company just west of St. Louis:
Billboard 1 Some kind of ad for a store, but all blurred
Billboard 2 “MADE”
Billboard 3 “YOU”
Billboard 4 “LOOK”
Best damn food on the whole trip so far: Blue Springs Restaurant, Exit 30, Interstate 70, western Illinois. Home of the “Foot High Pie,” which is really a foot high. Mostly merengue, but easily 12 inches deep. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try any, because the meal was huge, and incredibly delicious. A deep-fried 1 lb. catfish, which was so tender the only thing keeping the meat on the bones was the fried batter. Green beans cooked with ham, applesauce, something that looked like sweet potatoes but turned out to be pumpkin, homemade coleslaw with no mayonnaise, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, and biscuits made from whole wheat flour. Served “family style,” which means it will feed a family of four with leftovers. In all fairness I made quite a dent, but came nowhere near finishing. Nearest thing to an old-fashioned road trip I’ve experienced so far.
Most like home: Rush hour traffic, I-70 downtown St. Louis
Being tailgated at 80 MPH in an 50 MPH zone, dodging cars making lane changes with inches to spare, without signaling (at 80 MPH). Dodging cars crossing 3 right lanes to take an exit at the last minute. It felt just like being back in NoVa, brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face.
Actually, the smile was more like a grimace caused by my facial muscles frozen in a rictus of shear terror. But I was able to put on my DC Metro driving instincts like a comfortable, bloodstained leather glove.
Don’t get me wrong, St. Louis was a lovely place to see in my rear-view mirror, and the drivers I encountered obviously started out as cute, cherubic babies whose mothers loved them very much, but once they got their alleged drivers licenses, it all changed. I’m pretty sure they didn’t get licenses by taking driver’s tests, they were probably given them by some kind of scratch-off gambling game. “If you match three road hazards, congratulations! You’re a driver!”
I mean, gambling is big, really big in the St. Louis area. There’s a huge sign trying to “guilt” people into gambling by telling drivers that gambling paid 1 billion dollars toward Missouri education. The sign was near a former multi-story hotel converted into a casino, called “Noah’s Ark.” I don’t even want to contemplate the theological implications of that name.
They almost installed a slot machine in my car when it was stopped for a traffic jam, until they saw my Virginia tags.
Weirdest animal encounter: Day 1, running into a swarm of bees, and having about a dozen splats of bee guts on my windshield.
Saddest animal encounter: So far, I’ve seen 8 deer carcasses along the side of the Interstate, starting in Maryland, and in each state except Indiana. Some kind of predation needs to be restored, so that the deer don’t jump out in front of semis and cars. Either resume hunting, or reintroduce some natural predators that used to thin the deer herds. Just my opinion.
Next saddest animal encounter: Being behind a pickup truck 60 miles west of St. Louis when the truck hit a bird in flight, and driving into the cloud of feathers. Although the sadness is tinted with a bit of humor.
Well, that’s all for tonight, I hope I can get to Denver tomorrow night, but I’m not going to kill myself trying. Still have over 600 miles to go.