Cincinnati to Texas, Day 2: St. Louis to Springfield, MO (July 28, 2014)
The Second Time is Easier
Well, the alarm went off again at 4 AM. Since I had gotten a few more hours of sleep, it wasn’t quite so difficult as it was yesterday. I got up and got dressed. I then went and started the Jeep so that it could be fully warmed up by the time we were done packing. I came back in and packed up the CPAP machines and carried everything out to the Jeep except for the animals.
The second time I had to put the cats in the carriers, it was much, much easier. Most notably because our hotel room had very few things for the cats to hide under or behind. I started with Little Miss. She knew that something was up and tried to go behind the dresser in the room but quickly got stuck. When she backed out of there, had her and into her crate in no time flat.
Junior was a little more challenging. I had to move the bed around to spook him out from under it several times before he went to go hide in the bathroom, which is right where I wanted him. I cornered him in there. He started growling and yowling because he was afraid of the “big bad daddy.” So, I offered him the crate as a way to “escape.” He took it. ‘Nuff said.
Strangely, Squeak was the easiest on the first day, and was the most difficult this morning. I was able to pick him up easily enough, but he absolutely refused to be stuffed into the carrier. I had to have Linda hold the carrier vertically while I put him into it butt-first. Even then, it took several tries and a few encounters with his claws to get it accomplished. Once that was done, we loaded up the animals and headed out.
On the Road Again
We stopped at the gas station so that we could get some coffee, and then got on the highway. This picture is about as blurry as I felt at the time, but I was going to get a wake-up in just a few minutes. The first 15 miles were uneventful. I did notice that even at 5 AM there was a reasonably good amount of traffic on the road, so I just stayed in the right lane and tried to stay out of everyone’s way.
Once we got close to the Mississippi, the highways started converging and diverging like spaghetti that sat too long and is now all stuck. My GPS kept saying things like “take the exit right, then keep left, then keep right.” Tracey had warned us about it the night before…and yikes, she sure was right. There was more than one occasion that I was white-knuckled until we got out of the city.
I Think I Can…I Think I Can!
After we left St. Louis, we quickly started climbing. I have never driven near St. Louis, so I didn’t know what to expect. We had one uphill and then a downhill after another and they were getting progressively more steep! Thankfully, MoDOT installed truck lanes on the steep hills. I was slowing down to 45 MPH on several of them. Sometimes, after we would crest one hill and start down, I would not recover my full highway speed before we got to the next uphill. That made the Jeep slow down even more. At one point, we hit a batch of these hills that had me slowed all the way down to 32 MPH before we got to the top! Thank God for those truck lanes!
We made our first fuel stop for the day at a Stuckey’s. Linda had never been to one before. She was quite surprised at all the “home made” type things that can be found there. We got about a pound of saltwater taffy to munch on in addition to the beef jerky that we grabbed at the last minute.
Amish? In Missouri? Who Knew?
We got off at Exit 100 in I-44 in Missouri to make the side-trip to pick up the solar panels. We wound up on Highway A, which connected I-44 with U.S. 60, just west of Seymour, MO. While on the highway, we spot the oh-so-familiar sign that you see when in central or northeast ohio. I was amazed that there would be Amish (or Amish-like) people out here. I thought they were all back east! We even wound up passing a horse cart while on Highway A.
I Have the Power!
We rolled in at Missouri Wind and Solar to pick up our 4 solar panels and some miscellaneous hardware that I need to mount them. Originally, I had contacted them and asked how the panels would be packaged so that I could reserve space in my trailer for them. I was told that they would be packed two to a crate, and that each crate measured 67”x42”x14”. When I got that information, I completely reallocated the space in the trailer to accommodate these very large crates, and consoling myself with the knowledge that they would be very well protected.
I sent the company a reminder on Friday that I would be arriving on Monday (July 28th) to pick up the panels. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it. I got an email the day before we were supposed to leave telling me that the panels would NOT be packed in crates, and in fact were absolutely bare! That irked me a bit, considering that I had spent several hours shifting my cargo to make room, and then I’m told that they are unprotected?
I spoke with the folks there and we decided that if we placed the panels on top of the mattresses and placed blankets and cardboard between them that they would be OK. After all, our mattresses are giant blocks of foam, right? The fellow at Missouri Wind and Solar helped me load them up and we headed back out on U.S. 60 toward Springfield and our motel room.
Really people, don’t you think that you might want to change the name of this place? Or are you able to get a Happy Ending after getting enough reward points for buying fuel? Maybe you can get a footlong while you’re in there, too.
We made it into the edge of Springfield, but the GPS wanted us to hop back onto I-44 for a few miles to get to our exit for the motel. I didn’t know that Springfield was such a bustling city! We went north on U.S. 65 and it was three lanes in both directions with just about every service and food place you could think of at every exit! We finally merged back onto the highway where the traffic wasn’t quite so frenetic.
Temba, At Rest
Ah. The motel. Finally. We rolled in at just before noon CDT. Our room was ready, and thankfully, all the rooms at this location have outside access, so we were able to get all our pets in without being noticed. I ran out and fuelled the Jeep and took a quick spin through Wal-Mart for a few things and we came back to the room and ate some lunch. Linda took a nap while I worked on the blog entries and we finally got to bed about 9PM. Tomorrow is our longest leg yet (427 miles) so we want to make sure we are well rested before we trek all the way across Oklahoma into Texas.
Miles Driven today: 270.5
Total Fuel Consumed: 32.78G
Total Fuel Expense: $106.83
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.258
Average MPG: 8.25
Whole Trip So Far:
Miles Driven: 630
Total Fuel Consumed: 76.97G
Total Fuel Expense: $259.31
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.369
Average MPG: 8.18