The Trip – Days 18 & 19

For those of you who were informed of our return to our home in Fort Wayne, IN, on Wednesday, September 16, and wonder how we were able to make the trip by car from Cedar Park, TX in a matter of a few hours, there is a simple explanation.

I’ve been posting the trip’s progress, in most cases, a day late. So what you’ve been reading is something that’s already at least 24 hours, if not more, in the past.

This post was started on Thursday, September 17. I’m finishing it on Saturday, September 19. But don’t let that bother you. Better late than never, right? Besides, I’ve been busy getting back up to speed at home and have found little spare time for blogging.

Tuesday, September 15

Barb and I got up at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. We were able to see our son, Pat, off to work. We were also able to say goodbye to our daughter-in-law, Tricia, and our grandkids Jack and Emma before they left for work and school. As usual, parting was not easy but we managed to break away nonetheless and we were on the road by 7 a.m. Central.

It’s been our habit the last couple of times on I 35 to stop at Slovacek’s near West, TX. Their gasoline is competitively priced, their restrooms are spotlessly clean, the store is clean and smells very nice, and the food is excellent. Try their sausage, egg, and cheese kolaches. Delicious. We picked up two and ate them while driving toward Dallas. Their coffee is great, too. On one of our other trips, we stopped at a competitor (Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery) nearby on the other side of I 35. The restrooms there were filthy. The gas pumps were so full of cars that we didn’t bother waiting to gas up. According to Trip Advisor, both places get high reviews. But when we find dirty restrooms, we usually avoiding stopping again even though other aspects might be tolerable.

After refueling the car and ourselves, we continued driving northeast through Texas. We took I 35 north to I 35E through Dallas, then US 75 northeast to Denison where we picked up US 69. If you’re in a hurry, stay away from US 69. There are lots of towns, villages, and traffic signals to deal with. Not only that, but we had to deal with a major traffic crunch due to highway work. At any rate, we suffered through the drive on US 69 to Big Cabin, OK, where picked up I 44. What a relief to get on an Interstate after the stop and go between Denison and Big Cabin.

I 44 took us to Springfield, MO, where we had reservations at our regular B & B, the Walnut Street Inn. Gary Brown, proprietor, greeted us at the front door and processed our reservation. He gave us the key to the Rosen Room on the second floor, and wished us a good night. We took our stuff up to the room, then walked about 8 blocks to Nonna’s Italian Restaurant. Good food, reasonably priced. I don’t know where Nonna was. I’m not even sure she exists, but that’s OK. It’s fun to think about her anyway.

After dinner, we walked back to the Walnut Inn and crashed for the night.

Wednesday, September 16

We got up at 6 and were in the dining room at 7 for breakfast. A couple were already seated at the table. They were from Nashville, TN. The wife had come to Springfield for the many antique shops. The husband had come for the Bass Pro Shop world headquarters. Both were satisfied at what they found. Nice couple.

Another woman joined the table after a few minutes. She was very pleasant, was dressed impeccably in business attire (something rarely seen at a B & B breakfast table), and was extremely cordial and conversant. We shared travel experiences with her (whose name is Mary) and felt as if we got to know her pretty well after perhaps 15 minutes or so of conversation. After one last cup of coffee, and after the Nashville couple had departed, Mary excused herself because, unlike us, she had to go to work that morning.

As we were leaving the Walnut Street Inn to get back on the road, Gary told us that he was glad we had the opportunity to meet “Judge Mary.” Turns out she’s a federal judge, attached to the Springfield federal courthouse. You never know who you might run into at a B & B.

We thought about Judge Mary while driving northeast on I 44, especially when we hit Rolla, MO, which is where Judge Mary lives. We wondered about her neighborhood and her house, and also wondered how many times she has to drive between Rolla and Springfield to do her job.

When we got close to St. Louis, we took I 270 south to I 255, I 255 northeast to I 70/I 55, then I 70 to Indy. At Indy, we got on I 465 north (for a change) and found traffic abominable. Of course, we hit Indy at about 5:30 p.m. so what could we expect?

After struggling through our capitol city, we found I 69 and made it to Fort Wayne without a major incident. In fact, the entire trip was without even a minor mishap. The Forester ran well, the tires held up in the heat and altitude changes, and the air conditioner worked well when we needed it. We arrived home at 7:30 p.m. Mileage on the Forester was 55,382. We had driven 5,101 miles since leaving home on the morning of August 29.

Quite a trip. We saw lots of interesting sites along the way and we had to pass by many historic and geological attractions that would have made the trip even more memorable. But we didn’t have all the time in the world and we certainly don’t have unlimited finances, so we did the best we could with what we had to work with.

Now that we’re back, we’ll spend some time recovering before we think about our next trip.

“Which direction next time?”

“I don’t know. I’m too tired to think about it.”

“OK. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”

“Good idea. Go to sleep.”



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