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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, March 31, 2017

Almost Home!!!

Hi Trekkies--thought we'd be home today but Mother Nature decided to play late winter, early spring games with us. So, since I've just finished the bills for April and have gotten all the pictures thus far uploaded and sent to you, figured I'd catch you up on our final days on the road. I left you all as we checked into our motel in Boonville, Mo after several downpours and views of the most incredible cloudscapes I've ever seen. Hard to believe that was six days ago. For the most part our time was spent crossing the country on back roads, using Interstates only when there was no other choice. We left Boonville on the morning of Mar 26 with a final look at the last of the daffodils in front of our motel. We headed south to pick up Mo Rte 50 which runs pretty much East - West toward St Louis. We had debated heading farther south and crossing the Mississippi at a less crowded location and then working our way back north in Illinois. Upon further discussion we decided that since it was Sunday that the traffic would most likely be light and we'd save time, Our original aim was to get home on April 1 but now that we were getting so close we decided we could make it by today. Usually, I'm depressed these last few days and trying to do anything to delay the inevitable return to the frozen, dead looking northland of Vermont, but for some reason, this year, I'm actually looking forward to getting home and seeing Betsy and the cats. Although the day was heavily overcast, it didn't rain, though it seemed as though it should. The weather was actually unseasonably warm--high 50's. low 60's. Initially, the terrain was as flat and the roads as long as it had been for days. Soon it became rolling hills and still lots of beautiful fields waiting cultivation. Some had been tilled and the rich soil looked almost black, in other places the undisturbed fields sported the beautiful purple mats of henbit--a weed with very shallow root systems that love the richness of the unplanted fields. Although we could not see it we were travelling parallel to the Missouri River and soon reached the capital city, Jefferson City which sits majestically on its bluffs. Once through town we started to swing southeast away from the river and toward St Louis and the mighty big muddy. Once we'd passed through Linn and away from the river we entered a more forested, less farmed area of the State. Still we were in the land of alphabet soup, as I call it, with all the side roads either single or double letter designations. I've not noticed such road labels in any other State. Why there were even two that formed my monogram--KP! On we went through such nice little residential towns as Rosebud and Gerald. In time 50 ended by a " T " to I 44 which led us directly to St Louis. AND semis with some interesting loads. LOL Bill started to get a bit nervous with all the coming and going of vehicles going to Memphis or Chicago or St Louis. I urged him to imagine he was driving our Interstate near Manchester, NH and that I'd make believe the bridge, which makes me nervous, is the one in St Francisville. La. It also crosses the Mississippi but is much lower and shorter. Well, traffic turned out lighter than he expected and the bridge was much easier to cross than I'd anticipated. We were a bit south of the city center and so it isn't the major St Louis bridge. Phew--in minutes it was all behind us. And then we were in Illinois. Right on the other side of the bridge I took us on a narrow two lane--county road " J " --to connect to Illinois 64, which parallels Interstate 64. Paul and Jean had taken the interstate to get home after leaving the northeast last summer and Jean said it was a pretty ride from Louisville, Ky to St Louis. We try to avoid interstates but the State road covered the same area and though out of sight was close enough to access if we got tired of the back roads or felt we wanted to make up time. " J " ended at a t-intersection with 64 in Freeburg. Bill said which way and I said left--within seconds I saw we were headed West back toward St Louis--I'd forgotten we were headed North, not South on "J" so we had to turn right to head East. Oh, well, even the best navigators make mistakes sometimes--at least we got to see the whole of Freeburg! A few more Illinois towns, some small, others smaller, and we arrived at Mt Vernon for the night. Ate at Applebee's. Watched NCIS LA--nothing else particularly appealing. The next morning dawned overcast and threatening rain once more. Drove through Mt Vernon which has all this colorful squiggly stuff on the welcome sign and water tower and a strange sculpture at the railroad crossing but, though I google searched like crazy, could not find anything that would explain the apparently import of the logo. Once more we followed 64 eastward through more farmland,and small towns. Today's journey took us into Little Egypt and Wayne City, whose water tower declared it to be the Bean Capital of Little Egypt. It is much easier for me to give you a link for those who'd like to know the history of this geographical designation of this part of Illinois. Interesting, but easily skipped if you don't care--lol http://www.illinoishistory.com/egypt.htm Then we drove across the Wabash and into Indiana. Though we usually only eat breakfast and then supper when we stop for the evening, the breakfast at the Mt Vernon motel was inedible and the coffee was brown colored water. Worried that we were moving out of Sonic country I asked to stop at Sonic for my one Sonic fix of the trip. My eyes, as Mom used to say, were bigger than my belly!!! A SuperSonic double bacon cheeseburger, a small order of tater tots and a Sonic Blast--small thank goodness--Butterfinger, of course! Stuffed--but so good! I guess I should tell you about my gourmet requirements on our trip: One Johnny Carina's meal ( Alamogordo, this year ), one Buffalo Wild Wings ( actually twice this year--don't remember where), one Pizza Hut delivery ( went to the restaurant in Las Vegas, NM) and one Sonic Blast ( this was it ).. Other than those, I don't care where we eat. Don't want more than one of each --not a glutton--but they don't exist at home and they are yummy. Some more midAmerica towns with elegant Courthouses and pretty homes before entering a truly rural area. We descended off a plateau and the town of Bird's Eye into a narrow valley and rode along a railroad. We came to a sign that said welcome to St Anthony and St Marks but there were actually two little villages running right into each other. I thought there had to be some history to the combo welcome sign but the distinct individuality of the hamlets. Again, only St Anthony is listed on Google and no mention of St Marks. I'd love to know the story. Then we came to bluff area and noticed caves in the walls as we drove. There is a National Site Cave in Marengo, Indiana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marengo_Cave These, however, were not anything I'd want to explore. We pulled over in what looked like a quarry and the whole wall was pocked with caves. Drove back along the road to look at the ones there--dark and hard to tell how far back they go, but this is obviously pretty sinkhole country. The road is probably on a system of caves. Eerie. I could not resist the turquoise and white chevy for Glen. I think that it is rigged with electric light along its sides which must illuminate it at night. That made me sad--but love the car. Once more we came to the Interstate and took it. We decided we'd stay in Jeffersonville on the outskirts of Louisville, Ky. Used navigation system to find the motel--thank goodness I didn't call to make a reservation. Madam Sultry Voice took us across the Ohio--God, another bridge!!--into Ky. We wondered about that since Jeffersonville is in Indiana. But, in short order, Madame Sulty was directing us across the Ohio once more---no,no,no--On to Lexington. Unfortunately, she is very persistent and every chance she got, she was having us make a legal U-turn. Bill, of course, is trying to drive in Louisville traffic and I'm desperately trying to figure out how to shut her up. I suspended navigation--that stopped her--but still needed to get rid of the destination. Eventually, don't ask me how, I found a delete destination and so I did. This added another hour or so to our day and by the time we arrived at the Clarion we were pretty pooped. Thank goodness I had eaten my Sonic because I was stuffed. Bill went to the bar and had a salad. Watched Criminal Minds and Designated Survivor--I think. We decided to stay another night in Lexington and so the next day we headed over to Frankfurt and Buffalo Trace Distillery. Bill had gotten a nice fleece vest there several years ago and wanted to get a new one. Unfortunately, they didn't have them anymore. I got my Freddie hug. Freddy is a gentleman who has been at the distillery for years. We've taken tours with him several times. He is just a delight and, as you can imagine, meets thousands of people each year. I KNOW there is no way he can possibly remember me but every year that I visit I make sure to say hello to him and he always greets me like I'm a long lost friend. Hugs me tightly and asks how are you baby--it is so good to see you. I told the tour group that I didn't know how they'd feel about the bourbon or the tour but that they would love this man. I truly do--he is just a wonderful person and it makes me happy to see him. Drove over through Versailles and back to the Clarion. Went to the pub for sirloin steak dinners and laughter and talk with the guys at the bar. A travelling loading dock door installer and repairman and his crew. A young local, married for ten days--we gave him a hard time--wife was home making tacos for dinner. He kept in touch with her and she seemed okay that he was staying out. I tried the new Trace Bourbon--Eagle Rare. Excellent. Watched NCIS, Bones finale :( and The Americans. Slept like a log! The next day--It was off toward Cincinnati. We've been along this route so often--I got bored and fell asleep after we entered Ohio and fell asleep until we reached Columbus. Around Dry Ridge Ky we were rolling along at 75, went around a curve and the traffic was stopped dead in its tracks. Three lanes of cars and semis--a wonder no one came around the bend and rear ended anyone. We crept along for six to seven miles and at one point we could see the empty road before us--and then two pace cars. The traffic headed south was moving just fine but we were being held back. After about six or seven miles Bill saw the lights on the pace cars go out and the traffic was released. No evidence of any accident or of the pace cars--so a mystery as to what was going on. From then on traffic moved fine until we came to the OHIO --again and crossed into Ohio State at Covington, Ky to Cincinnati, Ohio. No welcome to Ohio though! In the middle of the bridge the Interstates divide--as you go onto the bridge you have to make sure you've picked the right lane for your destination--for us it is the two right lanes for Columbus. I navigate Bill through the mess and relax once we are out of the yellow blob on the map. I dozed off as I said and woke up in time to navigate him through Columbus toward Cleveland. Though Mansfield would be a nice distance to call it a day, we have stayed there and eaten in the Dutchman Restaurant--several times, because we forgot how awful it was. The last couple of times we've remembered and push on to Medina--pronounced Medinah--like Dinah Shore. A wonderful deli right next door so we each had a pastami on rye with mustard. Yum, yum. Unfortunately, he doesn't open until 1030 am so no getting coldcuts to bring home. Another time. Yesterday morning out we headed hoping to make Syracuse and home today. Horribly dark in the morning--felt like evening instead of 10am. Along Lake Erie in fog and rain--heavy most of the time. Couldn't see the lake at all. Into Pa for a few miles and then into New York at Ripley and around Buffalo. Kind of bored so used my camera to make Impressionistic paintings of the passing scenes. Loved the rest area where they left the weigh station sign that said " OPeN" there. So in came the trucks in single file, went around the building in a circle and then make a 180 at the end of the circle right back onto the Thruway. All nice and slow like a procession of silvery trucks with colorful cabs. Inefficiency, but guess it slowed them down and released them en masse back into traffic. Arrived at Batavia around 230 and decided to stop. Applebees had piles of snow in the parking lot--temp in low 40's--it had been 34 near Erie, Pa. Lovely!! Watched the weather report last night and this morning and decided the motel here is cheaper than around Rutland, if we made it. Or Syracuse if we had to stop. Decided to stay. Rained all day here. I paid the bills. Looks like Killington may be a problem. But,if all goes well, we will head out tomorrow and be home in late afternoon. So, there it is---back in the deep freeze and gray days and snow and wintery mix and mud. But Spring will catch up within the month, I hope and another year in Vermont begins. Will do the summary from home and will answer your questions, Jane--haven't forgotten. Also, Amy. I know I haven't talked about Miami but I will. Wish us luck on the last leg, Trekkies and good night. KandB

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