Truth be told, this was a fairly uneventful day.
I got a late start because I took the time to write up the previous day’s post during breakfast (Texas waffle out of the Super8 waffle maker). It was still a little chilly with temps in the upper 40s (F) and broken clouds in the sky. The wind was in my face but not oppressive like the winds I encountered during the ride down.
I knew there was some weather in front of me. There was rainy weather out in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Joplin, Missouri and that system would be moving east-north-east, or basically directly along my path of I44. The question wasn’t whether I would catch the system, but when.
So, the day passed, the Vector droned on, and the miles rolled.
The way Oklahoma runs its numerous turnpikes is a bit obnoxious. There’s a main toll point midway through the turnpike. If you, for example, need gas before the main tollbooth, you pay at your exit, get back on the highway, and show your receipt at the main tollbooth so they don’t charge you the full route rate. If you need gas after the main tollbooth, you pay at the main booth, show your receipt at the exit and they give you a refund, which you give right back to them when you get back on the turnpike to continue your trip. Ugh!
Learning this over the last few years, my strategy is to gas before starting each of the two main turnpikes so I don’t have to stop for gas while traversing them.
This strategy led to a gas stop in Tulsa at about 4:30pm. I was safely through downtown so I knew I wouldn’t have any rush hour backups to deal with. I took this opportunity to eat some food. Gas station hot dogs, chips, a roll of little frosted-sugar donuts, and a Diet Coke may not sound like four-star faire, but on a long day’s ride, you’re not always picky. 🙂 Back on the road I went.
I’m amused by some of the things we think about to pass the time while riding. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I ponder the mysteries of the universe: relationships, sex, family, life, etc. On this day, I found myself thinking about homonyms. (Multiple words that have the same pronunciation, like “way” and “whey”. I was trying to thing of a homonym that had the most spellings. I couldn’t think of one that had more than three: “sight”, “site”, and “cite”. Can you think of one that has more than three?
The sun was setting while I crossed the rolling wooded hills of south-central Missouri. The clouds of the rainy system were overhead, stretching to the horizon to the south but they only stretched a few miles north of the highway. This allowed the sun to peek under the cloud cover, as if it were waving a quick teasing goodbye before leaving me for the night. The contrast off the dark cloud cover and the bright orange sky was rather dramatic, with the trees and building in the foreground silhouetted against the bright horizon. Quite stunning.
I arrived at St. Louis and noticed that traffic out of downtown was a little heavier than the inbound traffic. Sure enough, the lights were on the the baseball stadium, I guess the Cardinals had a game this evening. Lucky for me, the outgoing traffic wasn’t too terribly heavy, so I was able to get through downtown and on into Illinois without a backup.
I made it to the I55/I70 crossroads at Troy, Illinois just before 11pm. I wanted to stop here because I can let the prevailing weather patterns dictate my choice of route home in the morning. The routes through Chicago and Indianapolis differ by only 10 miles in length, so starting the day here tomorrow gives me some flexibility.
I was pleased that all that rainy weather that had been in front of me all day resulted in a grand total of, maybe, five minutes of total rainfall (and a light rainfall at that). I had worn the rain suit from Tulsa to St. Louis, and that cautionary measure seemed to have appeased the rain gods.
When I checked in at a Super8, I was able to gain permission to use their hot tub even though it was already closed; they just asked that I be quiet (no problem). There was a Calahan’s bar across the parking lot so I ventured over there for a late bite.
The place was nearly empty. There was a cute little barmaid (Brittany) serving drinks, and four other folks sitting at the bar. Soon I learn that only one of those people was an actual customer. The others were the manager, the cook, and the server. So, with a two-to-1 ratio of staff to customers, service was excellent. To make matters even better, the one other customer was celebrating that this was his last night on an off-site assignment and he was going home in the morning. Consequently, he was buying shots for the employees and, I guess because I was there, for me too. I ended up getting some chicken strips and onion rings from the late-night menu and sipped some Cuervo 1800 between the Patron, Cherry Bomb, and Jack Daniels shots purchased by my bar colleague. Eventually, it was time to get back to the hotel for some sleep.
I took the iPhone and wireless headset with me to the hot tub so I could make my nightly call to Karen while I relaxed. The tub was running hot so I was boiled to a state of medium rare within 15 minutes, and it was back upstairs to sleep.
For a 772-mile day, this ride was deceptively easy. I suppose the end of the day helped that impression.
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