I don't remember just how early I woke up seven years ago this morning, but I quickly checked out, gassed up and got on the road.
It's almost distracting, the breath-taking explosions of color as the leaves were all changing. This is one of the few instances when I really wished I'd had a camera. Of course, if I had, I would have been even more distracted, and might not have ever finished the trip.
I lived in Cincinnati for a few years in the 1990's, and briefly thought about taking a slight detour, but as much as I would've liked to have gotten some Skyline chili and Graeters ice cream, I mostly wanted to get to California already.
I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone, but it seemed like I spent the longest part of my journey that day driving across Indiana. I'm sure that was just in my head, and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to Indianans. Maybe I was just spoiled by waking up in Pennsylvania, and quickly going in and out of West Virginia, then talking to Lisa as I made my way across Ohio.
I didn't really have that long to think about it, as I wasn't traveling across that much of Illinois.
Found my hotel, just west of the city, and then took some time for a treat. I didn't want to stay out late, going to one of St. Louis' famous blues clubs. Well, I did, but I knew it would be tough to get going early if I did.
But I certainly wasn't going to stop in St. Louis and not have ribs!
The night before, in Pennsylvania, when I had gotten online to find a hotel, I also looked up ribs. The internet informed me that one of the best places in St. Louis was a barbecue joint called Charlotte's Rib (named for a local TV celebrity). I was glad I did the research, as I heard someone asking the guy at the front desk for suggestions, and he told them he didn't know as he wasn't from the area.
I needn't have worried.
I found my way back to the hotel, booked my next stop and said goodnight to Lisa. I was now half a country closer!
Seems like I should have been listening to the blues on the way to St. Louis, but one of my most vivid memories of this leg of the trip is crossing a bridge in West Virginia, marveling at the spectacular display nature was providing me, and hearing "Telegraph Road" coming out of my car's speakers. I may very well be the only person who connects Dire Straits to West Virginia.
Here's what shuffled out of my Dire Straits' playlist as I wrote this...
"So Far Away"
"Down To The Waterline"
"Romeo and Juliet"
"Sultans Of Swing"
"Twisting By The Pool"
Only three states tomorrow, but more miles than I'd ever driven in one day. Time for a nap!