We had spent the first night in Anamosa, Iowa. When we got up the next morning I pointed out to Cindy that we were across the street from the National Motorcycle Museum, but she wasn’t inclined to visit it. So we left town after partaking of the free continental breakfast. If you want to visit the museum, it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Our drive through Iowa was uneventful, as was a large part of our time in Nebraska. We weren’t on the Interstate, so we didn’t feel as if we had to rush anywhere.
When we arrived in Neligh, Nebraska we found the Neligh Mill. It was a a mill built in 1873 by John D. Neligh. It was originally a water powered mill that produced flour and animal feed. As the years passed it was upgraded to also produce electricity. The mill was also modified to no longer depend on water power and the grind stones were replaced by steel milling machines that were electrically powered. The upgrades allowed the mill to produce more flour and feed that was marketed outside the area under a number of names.
I’ve been back home now since Thursday night. Usually I am in a rush to start posting about our trip as soon as I’ve had a good night’s sleep, but not this year. I am not sure why I’ve put off writing, but I haven’t had any desire to sit at the keyboard and pour out my stories. Still, if I don’t start soon I may never get around to doing it. Unlike past years, I don’t plan on doing a day by day breakdown. I may well skip over some days, or cram three or four days into one post. I’ll just play it by ear.
Once again we headed west, but not to Las Vegas this year. No, this year we drove to Oregon to spend a week with Lee, Michelle, and our grandson Wyatt. In the picture above we started our drive going west through Illinois. Please note that we are not on an Interstate highway. We had to share the road with trucks, but certainly not as many as we would if we had taken an Interstate. Plus we had seven days to make the trip. There was no reason to rush any more than was necessary.
Having plenty of time was good. Cindy took it to mean that we could leave later on our Tuesday start date. I’ll only say that we left later than the 8 a.m. that I preferred. Oh well. I love her. It was a cool, cloudy morning. We stopped and ate (a late) breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants before leaving Indiana and heading into the wilds of Illinois. The trip across Illinois was uneventful. We crossed the Mississippi River and drove into Iowa in the afternoon. We stopped and spent the night in Iowa.
Today’s post combines our last three days on the road for a couple of reasons. The first shallow reason is that I took no pictures on Friday. The second and third reason is that very little of interest happened on Saturday and Sunday.
Day 5, 4/14/2017
Our original plan was to leave for home on this day but (no surprise to me) Cindy decided to put off our departure for a day. We would spend one more day with Barbara, Michael and his family. Rather, we would spend about half a day because Cindy and Barbara both sleep later than I do.
I went out that morning searching unsuccessfully for something scenic to photograph. I must have driven in the wrong direction or I was being too picky in my choices. So I stopped and filled the car with gas so that we could make a quicker getaway on Sunday. Then I went back to the apartment to read some more of my reading challenge book.
We drove to Michael’s home in the afternoon. He was preparing a farewell dinner. We were having fresh from the boat fried shrimp, French fries, and home-made coleslaw. It was great!
After dining we played one game of Oh Hell. Since it was only one game I only had to give away a portion of my cash. Then it was back to Barbara’s apartment to get some sleep before leaving the following morning.
Day 6, 4/15/17
We left early-ish on Saturday morning. We planned on driving to Memphis, Tennessee; which was around 460 miles. With breaks for lunch, gas, and bathroom breaks we expected to be on the road about eight or nine hours.
I drove until we were about two hours from Memphis, and Cindy took over. I settled into the passenger seat, and despite the lovely scenery, I dozed off. About 80 miles down the road Cindy told me that she couldn’t keep her eyes open and wanted to stop fr the night. So we did.
Day 7, 4/16/17
We were on the road early Sunday morning because we still had at least nine hours of driving ahead of us. I had been driving for around an hour when Cindy realized that she had left her earrings in the motel room. So while she called the motel and asked them to secure the earrings, I turned around started back to where we had stayed.
We arrived at the motel, where they had taken Cindy’s earrings to the office. She quickly collected them and then it was back on the road.
We got home between 8 and 9 p.m. We decided to leave unpacking the car until the next morning. It was time to collapse, so we did.
Things to remember before we go back to Louisiana. 1. Plan ahead for what we want to do. For instance, if we had gone a week earlier we could have gone to the Dave Robicheaux’s Hometown Literary Festival in New Iberia, or if we go back in November we can attend the Abbeville Giant Omlette Celebration. 2. Manage time better so that we can do all that we want to do. 3. Take more pictures. That’s my list. I don’t know what Cindy has on her list.
Cindy had told Michael and Jenna that I liked visiting graveyards and taking pictures. She is correct; I do like visiting and taking pictures of graveyards. So on the fourth day of our trip Michael took us north to Lafayette, Louisiana to view the graveyard at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Before we left Abbeville however, we stopped at a gas station for breakfast. That’s right, a gas station. The eatery was actually in the same building as the station. The food was very good.
The pictures above are just a few that I took while we were at the cathedral. Michael told us that among the among the graves was one of a Confederate War veteran who was famous. Actually there were a number of Confederate veteran graves. Evidently they weren’t all famous.
I noticed that there were a lot of Landry and Broussard family members in the graveyard. At first I assumed that they were large contributors to the church, and perhaps they are, but a little research showed me that those names are very common in Louisiana. So much for my powers of deduction.
It was an enjoyable trip to a beautiful cathedral. I wouldn’t mind going back sometime to see more of the buildings.
That evening we took our hosts out to eat at a local restaurant.We chose a Mexican restaurant, and the food was wonderful, though Jenna’s meal failed to arrive with the others. Beyond the food, Cindy found the margaritas to be to her taste.
We returned to Michael and Jenna’s house where I was coerced into playing a couple of games of Oh Hell. It is a game of luck and a little skill. Cindy and the others love it. I see it as a way to give some of my money to other people. I guess it depends on your perspective.
Along with the cards, Cindy chose to consume some wine. It was good that I was driving.We repaired to Barbara’s apartment where she and Cindy quickly fell asleep and I got in some reading. It had been a pretty good day.
Clockwise from the left there is a shot in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a picture of Cindy, and the front of Preservation Hall.
On the third day of our trip, Wednesday, we went to New Orleans. It wasn’t completely a smooth trip there. We had to turn around and go back to Abbeville. No, we didn’t forget Barbara. It was for a different reason.
When we got to the city we parked in a lot in the French Quarter and set out on foot. Jenna and Cindy traded off pushing Barbara in a wheelchair. That wasn’t an easy task in the crowded streets. Shame on me for not offering to push her.
There were two objectives we wanted to meet during this visit, one for me and one for Cindy. I wanted to see Preservation Hall, where the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs. We saw it from the outside, but couldn’t go in because there was a private event going on inside. Maybe on our next trip we will get inside.
Cindy wanted to go on a Voodoo/graveyard tour, Unfortunately, if we had stayed in the city for the tour we wouldn’t have able been to leave New Orleans until around 11 p.m. or midnight. Then we would have had about a two-hour drive ahead of us. We didn’t want that. Oh, and pushing Barbara through graveyards didn’t really appeal to us. Perhaps on our next trip we will spend a day or two and nights in New Orleans.
What we did do was some window shopping. In one case I went beyond the window and bought a nifty T-shirt to memorialize the trip. We also had a delicious lunch at the Napoleon House. And finally we were ably to watch a scene for N.C.I.S. New Orleans being prepared for shooting. We saw Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, and Vanessa Ferlito. Ms. Ferlito scowled as much out of character she does when in character. Cindy only drooled a bit when she saw Mr. Bakula.
Ah. Memories. I took this short sequence of photos during our first stop while on our second day on the road. I hoped that it wasn’t a foreshadowing of the rest of the trip.
I had originally planned on titling this series of posts A short trip to New Orleans and return but that seemed in retrospect to be misleading…like the first sign in the above album page. You see, based on things Cindy had told me about her previous trips to Louisiana when she visited friends, she had left the impression that they lived in a suburb of New Orleans. They didn’t. In fact they live in Abbeville which according to Google Maps is about a 150 mile drive from New Orleans.
My first clue about the location came when I woke from a nap while Cindy was driving. I had driven all morning and traded off with Cindy after lunch. I woke up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when we were approaching the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi River heading west. I know enough rudimentary geography to realize that we were heading in the wrong direction if we were going to New Orleans. I pulled out my smart phone and Googled Baton Rouge to Abbeville and found that we were driving in the right direction but still had about 80 miles to travel. That is when I realized that we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in New Orleans.
We arrived in Abbeville and drove to Barbara’s apartment where we would be staying. After we unpacked the car we drove over to Michael, Jenna and Hudson’s house. Michael had been cooking all day, preparing for our arrival. He was barbecuing ribs, chicken wings, and sausage. In addition there was home-made potato salad and a tossed salad. If there was more, I forgot about it in a cloud of subsequent satiation. It was quite the welcoming dinner.
We ate a lot, and talked a lot. And when we were done, we climbed back into the car and drove back to Barbara’s where we collapsed in exhaustion. Thus ended day 2.
Cindy decided that we had to take a week out of our lives so that we could drive to Louisiana to visit some of her friends. They are special friends. One, Barb, is the sister of Cindy’s best friend, Marilyn, who recently died. The others are Barb’s son Michael and his family. On any other occasion I would love to go to Louisiana, but let’s face it, this trip was going to involve a lot of crying.
I didn’t want this to be a totally lachrymose occasion, so I planned on taking at least one photo each day that had no wet tissues or hankies in sight. I also wanted to document anything that caught my fancy or curiosity.
Day 1 4/10/2017
There were few opportunities to take pictures on the drive down. We were booking it. Do people still say booking it? I took this when we stopped to eat dinner in Southaven, Mississippi. We covered a little over 500 miles on the road that day.
Two things of interest happened on the drive. The first was when we pulled in to the Trail of Tears Rest Stop in Illinois. I knew that the Trail of Tears refers to the forced move of American Indians from their land so that it could be taken by immigrants and children of immigrants. But I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that the Trail of Tears might also refer to parents taking very young children on their first long car trip.
There were the usual amenities at the rest stop, plus a couple of picnic tables. We had packed the fixings for sandwiches and took this opportunity to have some lunch. Cindy and I alternated using the facilities and insuring that nobody stole our sandwiches. When I was returning from the clean restrooms I noticed a pickup truck in the parking area, and beside it was a girl lying face down on the asphalt. I guessed that she was alright since there were two adults walking around her and the truck. After a bit she popped up onto her feet and walked around smiling. Very curious.
Later during the trip, while Cindy was driving through a part of Arkansas, she determined that we were getting very low on gasoline. It was so low that she decided that she needed to get off of the Interstate at the next exit to fill up the tank. Unfortunately when we got off the Interstate there were no gas stations at the intersection. So we turned east and headed for the nearest town a few miles away. We arrived at the hamlet and found that there were no gas stations there, so we turned around and headed back towards a town west of the intersection.
Before we got to that town Cindy spied a young man walking, so she pulled over to ask him where the nearest gas station was located. He thought for a moment and told us to turn onto a dirt road. He said that we should follow it until it came to a T intersection and to turn right. In a couple of miles we would find a gas station in a town that he named. So off we went down the dirt road. In the meantime I Googled the town he had named. Google told me that we should turn left rather than right when we got to the T intersection. Against her better judgement, Cindy followed Google Maps rather than the young man.
Around ten or twelve miles later we arrived at the location Google Maps had led us to only to find an empty field. In fact, at the arrival Google Maps provided a photograph of the empty field.
By this time Cindy was split between panic at having a gas tank that was almost empty, and anger at me for convincing her to believe in technology. The sensor in her gas tank indicated that she only had enough gas for a few more miles. We started searching frantically for another nearby town with hopes of finding gasoline. We came to another small village with no gas station. We saw a gentleman using a weed whip in his front yard and pulled up to ask him the location of the nearest gas station.
He asked us where we had come from. I told him and emphasized that we just wanted the nearest station. He gave us directions for which we thanked him, and set out on our renewed quest. A couple of miles down the road, the electronic gas tank sensor decided that we were out of gas, but we kept purring along. We went on for another ten miles or so before we got to the gas station where we filled the tank and returned to the Interstate highway.
Cindy praised God for keeping the car running. At first I thought that maybe it was similar to the fishes and loaves, but upon reflection realized that it was more akin to the Hanukkah Miracle concerning the oil that fueled the Temple’s menorah. I, on the other hand, decided that the sensor was faulty and that we couldn’t trust it to be accurate. You can decide for yourself.
We started the day by having our last complimentary continental breakfast at our motel. We were in a rush to get on the road, so we got onto Interstate 44 and headed northeast. Cindy started out driving. We planned on her driving through St. Louis, and then I would take over for the rest of the way home.
As we drove through Missouri, we noted once again that there seems to be more billboards with signage selling knives and other cutlery than in other states that we have visited. You also see more signs for walnut bowls. I wonder what type of signs people find unique when they drive through Indiana.
Cindy became increasingly frustrated with all of the semi-trucks on the highway. As the day progressed and as we got closer to St. Louis, the number of trucks increased. In St. Louis we got onto Interstate 70 and crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois. We pulled into a rest area and I took over the driving.
Illinois was kind of a blur. We took I-70 to I-57 and headed in a more northerly direction, At Champagne, Illinois we caught I-74 east and drove it the rest of the way across Illinois, and into Indiana. We got off of I-74 in Crawfordsville, Indiana and took US 231 north to Lafayette. And then we were home.
The picture is of part of our kitchen. As you can see, the vinyl flooring has been removed so that we were walking on the underlayment. The green piece of equipment you see is an air scrubber. There was also a dehumidifier in the kitchen, as well as another set of equipment in another part of the ground floor, and another in the basement.
Our vacation was over, and we were back in the world of trying to get our house back into a livable mode. That journey continues.
We left Shamrock, Texas early the next morning and returned to Interstate 40 heading east. Fifteen miles later we were back in Oklahoma, though further south when last we were in the state. From there we drove to Oklahoma City. And there we took Interstate 35 north, searching for an exit that would lead us to Arcadia, Oklahoma. Trina and JR had told us about Arcadia and suggested that we stop there to see the Round Barn, and to eat at Pops. We had originally thought to stop there on our way out to Las Vegas, but we got sidetracked north to see the Will Rogers Museum Memorial. So we decided to stop and see the sights of Arcadia on the way home.
Well, we missed our exit and drove many miles north of where we needed to be, so we stopped for gas, turned the car around, and headed south on I-35. I thought I saw our exit and got off of the Interstate only to find th road was closed for construction going in the direction we needed. So once more we got onto I-35 south. At the next exit we got off and headed east. This road also led to Arcadia, so some of my self-directed anger faded. The road we were on, in fact, was the road that lead us to Pops.
Cindy and I had both assumed that Pops was a roadside diner that had good, home-cooked food. We were not prepared for the restaurant that we found. In fact, we drove past it before we realized that we needed to turn around once again. Pops was actually a large metal and glass building with hundreds, probably thousands of bottles of soda pop glued to glass shelves in the main window. This picture is of a very large sign? lit statue? in front of the building. We were there in daylight, but pictures taken at night show the pop bottle to be colorfully lit after dark. This was the only picture I took this entire day.
We ate our lunch at Pops, and then got back onto the State highway, not the Interstate. We were now on historic Route 66. We drove to the Round Barn, but neither of us was inclined to stop. We have both see round barns in Indiana (there are more than 100 of them in Indiana), and were more inclined to move on. When I was young I heard it said that round barns were designed to keep the devil from getting you into corner. I love that story, but I’m wondering why, if that is true, I have never seen a round farm house to go with the round barn. What types of devilish mischief was a farmer liable to get up to in a barn that he wouldn’t in the house. Hmmm.
But we drove on eastward on state highways all of the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma. In Tulsa we got onto Interstate 44 because home was still beckoning to us, and we drove to Springfield, Missouri to spend the night. We found a nice motel and a Ruby Tuesday restaurant a couple of doors down from it. They had a good salad bar. We went back to the room to get a good night’s rest before driving home the next day.
Today was a day to just drive homeward. We didn’t stop to see anything interesting, though I’m sure we came close to many interesting sites. Our drive heading east was not the reverse of our drive towards Las Vegas.
We were more interested in getting home as expeditiously as possible, so we got back on Interstate 40. We left Arizona and stayed on I-40 all the way through New Mexico. Instead of driving through the Oklahoma panhandle as we did on the way out, we drove through the Texas panhandle going home. For those of you who are not familiar with U.S. geography, the Oklahoma panhandle runs east/west. The Texas panhandle runs north/south. Why is the term panhandle used? I don’t know if panhandle is a term used outside of the U.S. When used in a geographical sense it means a thin (relative term) strip of land projecting from one area into another area. Think of it as a peninsula surrounded by land rather than water. If you look at a map of Oklahoma, it becomes more obvious.
At any rate, we crossed the Texas panhandle and stopped in Shamrock, Texas for the night. I took this picture from across the street from the restaurant we chose, Big Vern’s Steakhouse, for dinner. The food was good. I had one observation that evening. I remembered that most of the men I saw in Oklahoma and New Mexico were wearing cowboy hats; but in Texas they all wore baseball caps. What’s the significance? I don’t know.