...and where eleven year olds seem to have taken over the State Department of Transportation.
Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma!
I'm very excited. By my calculations, there are 1,320 miles behind me and 1,320 miles ahead of me. In other words, Tulsa sits halfway between Point Pleasant and Palm Springs.
But driving here is totally whack. The speed limit signs read as follows:
MAXIMUM SPEED 75
MINIMUM SPEED 50
A minimum speed of 50? I was afraid to replay songs on my iPod lest it make me drop into the low speed danger zone. And I'm guessing that the "No Tolerance" thing means that they're So Cereal.
I was hoping to be spending the night a bit farther down the road in Oklahoma City, but it was not to be. As I was passing through St. Louis, I wanted to spend some time with my old friend GlovedTop. GT was one of my only internet meet-ups that worked, all those years ago when I was living in Jersey City. We had a standing date to go to the beach on the Sunday between Session A and Session B of Inferno, although that hasn't worked out so well in the past few years as he and I never seemed to make Inferno at the same time.
One of the absolute hightlights of my visit with GT was the tour of his amazing dungeon. boys, if you are ever in St. Louis, or if it's at all possible for you to get to St. Louis, then spending some time in GT's dungeon--like maybe chained up in his cell or lashed to his St. Andrew's Cross--will sure make your trip memorable in ways that seeing the Gateway Arch or having a cement from Ted Drewe's won't.
There was one fly in the ointment, though. When I pulled up outside of Stately GT Manor in Compton Heights, St. Louis' up-and-comingest up and coming neighborhood, it occurred to me that parking my Jeep Liberty on the street overnight packed with my most valuable possessions would not be a great idea. After consulting with GT, he made some phone calls and we were on our way to the new home of Mark, yet another talented handsome sadist living in St. Louis. Mark was just back from visiting his boy in Seattle. The three of us repaired to a diner--possibly on Euclid, as I recall from previous visits that's the street where things are hap'nin'--where I had a really nice porkloin with gravy.
The next morning, GT went to the local AAA office and picked up several pounds of information on following historic Route 66 on my westward journey. I'm torn between wanting to make that trip and wanting to get to Palm Springs as quickly as possible, but my AAA Trip Tick book will definitely be put to use at some point. I am SO going to join AAA at the first available opportunity.
Finally, I managed to hit the road. I wasn't exactly following Route 66, but for most of the trip down I-44 through Missouri, it was right there, off to my right. I wanted to get to Oklahoma as soon as possible. (How many times have those words been strung together in a sentence? I'm betting not many.) But y'see, I've been through Ohio and Indiana and Illinois and spent some time in Missouri--once almost losing my life on a canoe trip in the Ozarks--and Oklahoma represented the first place on my westward journey where I had never been before.
And here I am. I stopped for dinner at a Pizza Hut in Vitalia, a town that smelled like a cow barn. Which was a good thing! I love cow barns! And grasshoppers seem to be everywhere. I've got a pretty thick coating of them on my windshield.
Anyway. I had a good night's sleep and I'm off on the road again.
Next stop: Albuquerque!
I am keenly aware on this leg of the journey that I've been banned from New Mexico. I lost it in a divorce. When I left my Ex of seven and a half years, he moved to New Mexico, a place where we had spent a memorable vacation, although it was probably memorable for each of us in different ways. (I remember him screaming at me--again--when after a long day of driving I didn't want to jump up and go visit Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch fifteen minutes before they closed; and I remember getting a phone call letting me know that my sister had died and that we'd have to cut our vacation there short.) He told me that he was moving to New Mexico in part to get away from me, and threatened that if he ever found me there he'd kill me.
So let's hope that he's home watching television tonight.