Safe and sound. That is one way to describe how we arrived.
After a grueling 14-hour day of driving on Wednesday, the boys and I arrived at my mom and Mike's house. I was never so happy for a journey to end. I mean, I like driving and all, but that "everything in moderation" saying definitely applies here...
A few mental notes I took on the road:Climate Change
Minnesota was wonderfully humid. I guess that happens with its proximity to the Great Lakes. I was not sure I would enjoy it at first, but it was surprising how quickly I got used to it. Also, since I finally succumbed to the cold my boys had been sporting all week by Sunday morning, I particularly noticed the contrast in humidity from Minnesota to Iowa, where I stayed Tuesday night. The dryness left me completely congested. Thank goodness for Peppermint Oil! I am sure I emanated the aroma of peppermint everywhere I went this week. I guess there are worse things to smell like. (Thankfully, the cold now seems to be in its final stages. Several nights of restful sleep and a healing nap yesterday afternoon seemed to help.)
Arkansas is not as humid as Minnesota at this time of year, but definitely moister than Iowa. I could see the transition in the foliage as I drove. Iowa reminded me of Alberta--lots of fields, albeit of corn rather than canola, stretching away in rolling waves broken by a few stands of poplars and evergreens. Missouri began to look a little more lush, but it was merely a preview for the full-blown near-tropical grandeur that is Arkansas. Everything grows bigger here--the trees are huge, the undergrowth is big and bushy, and even the weeds that grow beside the road are higher than your average human. On the way to the shop yesterday, there was a tractor with an adjustable crane-type arm, on the end of which was a mower. He had it running perpendicular to the earth along the side of the road--mowing the growth there! Otherwise, I suppose, it might overtake the road--which wouldn't be that difficult, considering how narrow all these twisting little country back roads are.Bird Watching
Jude was keeping a running tally of the number of eagles he saw. Before this trip, the only two he had seen were at the Ft. Worth Zoo when we visited in December. Now, I believe his total is around 27, most of those spotted on the last leg of our trip on Wednesday. I guess there is a reason that one of the towns we passed was called Eagleville. (There is some debate about whether they were all eagles--some of them seemed to be in groups a little too large. However, since I was watching the road, not the skies, like a good driver should, I'll just have to take his oh-so-knowledgeable word on it.)Signs of the Times
The first time I drove in Montana, I was surprised to see a marker on every mile of the Interstate. Nothing fancy--just a little metal post with a little metal sign in green, numbers and border in white. I thought it was a little odd, but I could see uses for it--for instance, if you get in trouble on the road (not so uncommon in Montana, I'm sure, with it's mountain towns sometimes few and far between) it might be helpful to say about what mile of the interstate you happen to be in when calling the emergency service on your cell phone--assuming, of course, that there is cell service!
On this trip, I discovered that not every state does this. I don't remember seeing these signs in either Minnesota or Iowa. Missouri, however, was another story. Completely.
They marked every .2 of a mile. Yep. That was good use of taxpayer's dollars. I mean, who needs to know where they are down to the fifth of a mile?!! Not only that, it wasn't just a simple sign, either. It had to be this big production: Interstate 35, Mile 36, .6, on these tall, grand signs, throughout the entire state!
And this morning, Mike told me that Missouri has about 400 bridges that the state cannot afford to bring up to safety code. That just makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?Roadside Surprises
If you take Interstate 35 through Iowa, round about Exit 165 I believe it is, there is a Shell station. This is not your typical Shell station.
On the station is a sign that says "Dudley's Corner." And inside the station is a little section that sells home-made jams, apple butters, hand-made country crafts, and other giftware. All for prices that this native-born Canadian considered abominably low--but not so abominable that I was above taking advantage of them. I bought some plum jam for my step-grandma Virginia (whom I was on my way to see), and a cute little "country-style" hand-painted sign for my new bathroom (whenever I get one). It has a little outhouse, and the caption says, "My aim is to keep this bathroom clean... Your aim would help." Definitely a good reminder in a house full of boys! :-)
On the west side of I-35 in Missouri there is a light-coloured metal warehouse-lookin' thing with huge red letters (in a font made to look like logs) shouting about Pecans! and Fudge Factory! and Crafts! It was the crafts that got me, since I had been on the lookout for just such another road-side stand after my Dudley's Corner experience. Sure enough, I found a great start to Jason's birthday gift. (Just in time, since he turned 35 yesterday.) An old-wood-framed print of four rodeo cowboys on buckin' broncos, and another little hand-painted sign that says "Cowboy In Training." He appreciated that as much as I did--great for the new office.
Well, I'm getting ushered out the door. The rest of our adventures are still to come... but later!