– Beggs, Oklahoma to Indianapolis, Indiana –
Mark has a workshop in New Jersey next week, and about 2 months ago, he decided that he would prefer not to go alone, so Ripley and I agreed to tag along. Ripley didn’t have much choice in the matter, I suppose, but she is usually game for any sort of travel, so we will pretend that she whole-heartedly agreed.
Since we were heading north anyway, we decided that we would use the trip to try to grab some of the states from which we are missing family photographs. Ripley is missing Illinois, while Mark and I already have it, but we’re all missing Vermont, Rhode Island, and Delaware. So, we are visiting all of those, along with a few minor parks along the way.
We actually started our trip yesterday, but it would be silly to read a blog about it, since we only drove for about four hours, to a place that’s very commonplace for us: Mark’s parents’ house. We’re calling it Day 0.5. We had originally planned to leave around 3 or so, but Mark got held up at a meeting, so we didn’t leave until after 4:30. In addition, since it is Father’s Day weekend and we won’t be around for the actual day, we had to stop at my parents’ house on the way by to drop off a card and treats for my dad.
By the time we made it out of Gainesville, it was after 5:30. We didn’t make it to John and Vicki’s house until after 9pm, so we were only able to chat briefly with them before we had to hit the hay. Today was a really long day, so we had to get up early to finish at a reasonable hour.
The alarm went off at 5, and after a quick shower we had a delightful breakfast of eggs, biscuits, and fresh blackberries. John picked the berries himself from the bushes on their property. From what I gather, they have a lot of fruit this year.
We were out of the house by 6:30, and were on our way to Indianapolis for the night. Most of the day was pretty quiet, since it was a heavy driving day. We stopped at several rest areas, and bought giant unsweet teas at McDonald’s early in the morning, before we’d made it out of Oklahoma. Say what you will about McDonald’s food, their tea is usually pretty good, and so cheap.
One of our stops was in Joplin, Missouri, where we hopped out to run into the rest area for a bathroom break. It was sprinkling when we went in, but when we came back out, it was a full-on torrential downpour, and we got pretty wet getting back to the car. Mark had to walk slowly since he’d gotten a free coffee at the rest area that he didn’t want to spill, but I was able to run over and hop into the car at speed, so I stayed a bit drier.
Lunch came early at around 11:30 at a Jimmy John’s in Rolla, Missouri, right next to the campus of their university. Apparently they had a girls’ basketball camp going on today. I’ve never seen so many high school girls in basketball jerseys, and I used to play basketball. I’m not very good, in case you were wondering. I’m totally lacking in the coordination department. Despite all of that, it wasn’t terribly busy, and Ripley and I didn’t have to wait too long outside for Mark to return with our food.
That’s the difficult thing about traveling with Ripley this time of year. We can no longer go into any buildings together unless it is very early in the morning. It is just too hot to leave Ripley in the car, even with the windows cracked. She enjoys getting out of the car as much as we do, though, so it isn’t really a burden.
From Rolla, it was perhaps another hour and a half to St. Louis, where of course we had to get out to take some pictures of the Gateway Arch. Mark was telling me that it has an elevator inside, so you can ride to the top, which I’d never heard before. It seems crazy to think that there are people inside it when you look at the thing.
It’s hard to find parking that close to downtown St. Louis, especially on a Saturday. Today they had a baseball game nearby, as well, which made it seem like it was going to be terrible. However, we found an Arch parking garage, which charged a dollar every twenty minutes, which isn’t bad at all. We only spent $3 to take our photos and get a stamp for our National Park Passport book.
I must say, it was pretty hot in St. Louis, and even under our hats, the sun was killer. If we stood still for more than a few seconds, we picked little Ripley up to protect her feet from the hot concrete. She was appreciative, even though we were making her hotter. She had a lot of fun walking over to the arch.
Mark and I took turns outside the Old Courthouse, where the visitor center for the arch is located, waiting with Ripley in the shade. It wasn’t as bad out of the sun, and the occasional breezes were pleasant. Ripley made friends with several people during her Arch excursion, and several other people wanted to talk to us about her. She’s a pretty little thing, and she always piques peoples’ interest. The park next to the arch had dog water fountains, too, which we made liberal use of. Yay for planning for puppies.
It was great to get back to the nice, air-conditioned car, despite the fun we’d had. As we were leaving St. Louis, we realized we needed a picture of Ripley in Illinois, so Mark asked me to pull out my phone to look for interesting stops along I-70 for her photograph. Would you believe that the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is only about 14 miles from the Gateway Arch in Collinsville, Illinois? When I read that one off, Mark got really excited. It’s hilarious to stop of things like that for photographs. Maybe someday we’ll get to see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. It’s in Kansas, I believe. Oh, boy!
Anyway, we stopped there briefly for our funny puppy picture, and checked Illinois off of her list of states to be photographed visiting. It’s funny… the landmark website says the bottle is something to see on I-70, but it’s actually perhaps 5 miles from that highway. I guess that’s still pretty close, but it seems a little far for a quick stopover.
With that taken care of, the interesting parts of our day we pretty much over. We stopped at another rest stop, and a gas station for more gas, but beyond that, we didn’t do much else until we got to Indiana. We had dinner at Whole Foods, but I swear we don’t mean to do that the entire trip this time. It was just convenient, since it was already nearing 8pm and we wanted food we could take with us. Their pizza slices were enormous and tasty, but the new brand of ginger beer we tried left something to be desired.
Tomorrow we drive on to Buffalo, New York. We haven’t picked a place to run yet in the morning, but we will find something before we go to bed. I think we are getting up at 6am. Someday we will take a vacation where we can sleep in a little.
– Trip Total : 910 miles –
(222 of those miles were from Denton to Beggs on Day 0.5)