On the Road Again

Eleven pictures. How am I going to fit eleven pictures into one post? Yikes, I hope this page loads quickly enough my short attention span laden visitors.

As in previous posts, most pictures are designed to be clicked on for access to the larger and hopefully clearer images. The limitations of my scanner have severely hampered my effort to keep this blog moving on a regular basis, that, and well, my lazy must play some part in that too. So please, take pity on this soul and pray that next month all goes according to plan and the new digital camera finally comes home with me. Let’s begin the show, shall we?

Ain't nobody that don't get tired
Watch your troubles pile up big in your own backyard
Sometimes you've got to grab your world with your own two hands
Set it spinning off on a course all your own
Take yourself a big bag for your shoulder
Find yourself some good times
Bring them on back home

Yeah, everybody gotta get away sometime
Forget about yourself for a while
Lay your whole life upon a shelf
Got no one to blame but your own damn self
Ok, alright, just might try to get it right tonight
Ok, alright, Carry On

- Pat Green -

Most people consider me a curious sort. I’d rather drive then fly somewhere. Apparently, this is not normal. I’d much rather spend eight hours on the road then one in an airport terminal. I hate the antiseptic uncomfortable setting that only an airport and emergency room can provide. It’s as if they design the places to keep you on edge, which they probably do.

My cousin and I left Austin around 1:00 PM, a usual early start for me once again, and made our way through Texarkana and Little Rock. We reached Memphis in time to find a hotel and some local flavor on Beale Street. Gone are the days of driving through the night, I'm just getting too old for that nonsense. In hindsight, we should have just stayed in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The effect would have been the same, and cost us less money. Memphis was a bore and Beale Street a disappointment, you live, you learn.

The next six days were somewhat of a blur, making writing this somewhat problematic. We were constantly moving, and never spending more then two days in one particular place. Busy road trips are like that, and they tend to be not-so-relaxing. Fortunately for me, my cousin was an excellent road trip companion and made the trip up pass by very, very, quickly. Thanks John.

Here are the highlights from the entire trip as I can remember them:

We finally arrived in Chicago after many hours of “Land of Lincoln” flat farmland the next day. What can I say about Chicago that a thousand other, better, writers have said? Through all of my travels, Chicago still remains my favorite city and I was fortunate to have a full day of aimless wandering around the North Loop Area. It really doesn't’t get any better then this. Now, if they could just do something about those long winters I'd have to relocate. Our second evening in the area found us on a Riverboat partaking in a little gambling, Blackjack to be precise, and I managed to walk away from a Casino with a lot more money in my pocket then I walked in with. That’s never happened before. Probably never happen again too. No matter what, it was a great way to spend an evening. It’s funny how winning money can make a interesting evening, a great evening is it not? After a short two days I said goodbye to the Windy City and hit the road to Northern Wisconsin and the Wolf River with my cousin and his friends to catch a little rafting. I had a great time but found myself going to bed entirely too early, my body was finally cutting me off. I’m glad I did go to bed early though, since it apparently stills gets cold in Northern Wisconsin at night. At least it was cold enough to see my breath, and that was something I wasn't ready for. But, the days were brilliant and the water was as warm as the hospitality of my cousin’s friends. The river ride turned out to be a great experience of which I have absolutely no pictures. Not a bad thing, really. I’ll probably try and do it again next year.

I packed my camping gear on Sunday morning, said my goodbyes and headed through Green Bay and down to Milwaukee. I had an old friend there and this was going to be his last summer on Lake Michigan before moving back home to Texas and I wanted to stop by the city one last time.

My friend took a couple of days off work and wanted to see and do everything possible in the city right at that moment. I, on the other hand, wanted to relax and just do nothing for the next two days. I won. Well, kinda. We spent one day walking around the Lake Front taking pictures and the second day hanging out at a couple bars. I feel a good compromise had been reached and both parties were satisfied with the contractual arrangement.

The Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) is the first Santiago Calatrava-designed building in the United States. The structure features a 90-foot high glass-walled reception hall enclosed by the Burke Brise Soleil, a sunscreen that can be raised or lowered creating a unique moving sculpture. It's a wonderful piece of Design by a man know for his bridges and worth a side trip to the Lake Front if you're in the area.

Now, how I spent my Tuesday is a prime example of what I love about “the road”. This day found me returning home from Milwaukee, by myself, with no set plan on where I would spend the first night of the two day drive home. Here’s a little synopsis of my day:

After six trips to the city, I finally found the Harley-Davidson plant in Milwaukee.

I showed the Chicago Commuters that this Hick can hang with the best of them dicing through traffic, and I got to bask in the magnificent architecture of Chicago one last time.

I was flirted with by a couple of Southern Illinois State Women at 80 mph.

I crossed the wide Mississippi at St. Louis and passed almost within the shadow of the famous Gateway Arch, and I learned that it does reach 100 degrees north of the Mason-Dixon line.

I drove down the first four lane divided highway in the country, and traced the final remnants of Route 66 through Illinois and Missouri. Not much remains of this once important road east of Arizona and most of it lies buried by the modern Interstate. Such a shame really.

I chased a beautiful sunset across the Ozark Mountains.

I learned that the empty Turnpikes in Oklahoma have been thoroughly repaved and are now a joy to drive, and drive fast.

I partook in a living simile around 10:00 PM. Somehow, “Like a deer in the headlights” has much more meaning at 85 mph.

I saw the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial late at night and had the place to myself.

I got to listen to a CD changer full of great music and at any volume I liked. Windows down and air conditioner on, I blew two of my front speakers on the trip home. Oh well.

I ate more fast food then I care to mention, I learned that a body can have too much coffee and that a hotel room does not immediately equate to a good night’s sleep.
The subsequent drive from Oklahoma City to the Alamo City on the last day passed without incident but the nagging thought of that deer kept bothering me so I stopped off in Austin and ordered a brush guard and new tires for Guzzler as a reward for getting me up there and back in once piece and in great style. Hey, it’s only the Casino’s money…
All in all, I consider the trip a great success and topped it off with one extremely enjoyable drive home. Who could ask for more?

[3448 miles]