Note: Some content may not be appropriate for young readers.

Our longest drive of the trip is behind us. We started early this morning in Amarillo, and planned to take I-40E to Oklahoma City, and then I-44E to St. Louis.

But before I review today’s activities, there’s a few things I’ve missed in my previous posts that I want to put on the record.

1) Attention Rogers Wireless. Your “partners” serving the US Southwest are horrible. For them to call themselves wireless communications providers is a complete joke. I had a call with a colleague that started just before the Nevada/Arizona border at the Hoover Dam. The call dropped at least 6 times. And a few hours later, in New Mexico, we tried to call home to talk to our kids and Grandma and Papa with the same results. Whoever runs these companies, and collects fees should be ASHAMED. You’re bad at what you do, and your shareholders and customers should drop you on your incompetent ass. Ok, that felt good.

2) Why are there so many vasectomy reversal billboards in Arizona? There’s clearly a market for this, because there we so many ads for this service that you couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in Arizona.

3) Should you be able to buy booze and fireworks at the same superstore? We saw stores that sold *only* booze and fireworks. What level of government thinks that this is a combination that makes sense?

4) KEEP TO THE RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS. Every other leg of the trip was fine, but this one had too many left lane hogs.

5) Don’t call my wife Ma’am. It pisses her off.

6) Don’t let me drive for more than 11 hours because I forget where I’m’s going.

7) Amarillo has farms with a billion cows on them. We drove by them, and used a very complex algorithm to estimate the number of cows we saw. When it goes for a mile, and all you see are cows, it automatically is a billion. How would you like your steak done tonight, sir?

Alright, I think we can review today’s trek. We both knew going into today’s journey that it was going to be the longest and least interesting of our voyage. But we both had a great attitude, and were going to make it fun. We left Amarillo around 7:30am CDT this morning, and headed east on I-40. I had checked the weather before the trip, and it was calling for thunderstorms in Oklahoma City by noon, and rain/storms throughout the rest of the trek through Oklahoma. I wasn’t worried though. I had new wipers installed, and the front tires were new in California. But I knew bad weather would kill my lap times. But you have to go with the flow on this kind of trip.

The countryside was rolling, through the whole day, but we were on a steady decline towards the Mississippi. As we were heading east through Texas, we encountered “the largest cross in the western hemisphere”. This trip was full of “biggest/largest” sites. We saw the “biggest giftshop in the world” as well. The most striking observation was the devastation of the forests bordering the Interstate. Vast numbers of trees were snapped in half, and most had large limbs broken off. It was a very strange sight. It looked like some angry giant had wandered through kicking and punching the trees on his way to dinner. The fury of the tornadoes in this part of the US is right there for you to see. I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit in your home in the midst of one of these storms.

When things were getting dull on the road, and we’d exhausted all of ABBA’s greatest hits, we played trivia games. Helen brought out the cards, and the miles flew by. My answers were predictable. I either knew the answer, and proudly shouted it out, or says “stupid question, who cares”. Did you know that there are 3 types of poodles? Miniature, Toy and Standard. Duh!

During one of our pit stops, we decided to do some tourist shopping. We got a couple of little things for the kids, and then discovered the cowboy hat section. All of a sudden, owning a cowboy hat seemed like the most important thing in the world to me. After trying several on (and yes, only XL would fit my fat head), I settled on a winner. Helen needed a bit of encouragement, but after trying a few, she found one she liked. So off we went, 2 Canadians wearing cowboy hats, bombing down I-40 in an M5 singing ABBA songs. I believe that made us “unique”.

We encountered a few State Revenue Enhancement Officers in their shiny cars today. The radar detector was performing perfectly. It became a game for us. The alarm would go off, and then we’d try to be the first to spot the Smokey. This game got so intense that we missed our off-ramp in Oklahoma City and had to backtrack. Thanks, GPS devices, sorry for the extra work.

As we pulled into downtown St. Louis, and drove past the huge arch, I started to have brain fade. The GPS was taking us to the Renaissance Hotel, but I was sure we were staying at a Marriott. We drove past the Renaissance, which annoyed the GPS, and pulled over to the side of the road. We pulled out the MacBook to try and find a confirmation email (which wasn’t there). I tried to find an open WiFi access point, but among the 50+ available, NONE were open. WELL DONE ST. LOUIS! You’re taking security seriously. But how about a Metro-net with free WiFi for lost travellers. Helen had the sane suggestion: Do what the GPS is telling you. She had faith that when I programmed it 3 nights ago, I knew where we were going. She’s a smart girl. We did that, and I ran in to sheepishly ask “Mister, do I have a reservation here?” Yes, we were in the right spot. It turns out that Marriott owns this Renaissance hotel.

I gave the keys to the valet guy, because I’d clearly lost the ability to control a motorized vehicle. We checked in, had dinner, then went to the health club for a hot tub and sauna. The sauna didn’t work. But that didn’t matter. It was another great day.

I remarked to Helen after our night in LA that this felt like a second Honeymoon to me. We were spending a ton of time together, and experiencing things together for the first time. It’s been a trip of a lifetime, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.

Tomorrow, we head off for the short (4 hour) trip to the Windy City. We’re going to spend 2 nights there at the Fairmont, and then finally head home. Grandma and Papa are having a wonderful time with the kids, but we’re really looking forward to seeing them again.

mJm

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