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The Great St Louis to Los Angeles Road Trip

In pictures, music, tweets (reposts from Twitter, which I’ve marked as such), and text.

Day One: St. Louis to Amarillo

Or, technically, my parents’ house west of St. Louis to Amarillo. I initially thought about trying to follow Route 66 for some of this trip, but when I started trying to map it through Missouri (using Historic 66.com) it got really complicated and basically just followed I-44 on the service roads anyway, so I figured to heck with it. Plus I tend to get frustrated on non-interstate roads very quickly on trips, so it was pretty much a stupid idea anyway.

Tweet: California or bust!
Tweet: Music recommendation: Babyshambles’ newest release Shotters Nation. Finally picked it up Saturday [yay Vintage Vinyl!] and it’s awesome.

Here are a couple of tracks off that album. I like the way lead Pete Doherty is bringing in some jazz influences, especially in “There She Goes.”

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There’s not a lot of love lost between me and Missouri (besides St. Louis, which I do love), but the stretch of I-44 going through the Ozarks can be quite lovely. Too bad it was a little cloudy when I was going through, but I really like the rolling hills and rock cuts.

I-44 in Central Missouri

Tweet: I’ve lived in Missouri for 25 years and am now moving away having never been to Branson. Huh.
Tweet: Billboard I just passed was advertising ‘Titanic: A Family Experience.’ Because drowning is always good times.
Tweet: My iPod is picking awesome songs. I guess having playlists FULL OF AWESOME helps.

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Tweet: Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…

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This is advertised to be the World’s Largest McDonalds, stretching across I-44 just west of Vinita, Oklahoma, but I don’t think that’s actually true. Unless, perhaps, you count all the non-McDonalds parts of the building, like the souvenir shop and the ice cream booth. Still, it’s cool to stop at and watch the cars go under you while you eat, but I didn’t stop this time.

World's Largest McDonalds?

Last chance to continue down I-35 through Dallas to Waco instead of taking I-40 toward California! It was tempting to find an excuse to go down and hang out with my friends again, but then I’d just have to say goodbye again, too, and that would suck.

Last Chance for Waco!

Tweet: Bob Dylan is good stuff. Why did I not know this before?

I never really listened to Dylan until I saw I’m Not There a couple of weeks ago, but as soon as I saw the film, I was inspired to seek out more music, and I quite like it. Different than most of the stuff I listen to, but then a lot of the stuff I listen to wouldn’t exist without Dylan’s innovations.

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Tweet: Hills and cruise control are an annoyingly poor combination. [So are headwinds and cruise control, as I found going through the deserts later]
Tweet: They aren’t kidding when they talk about the wind blowing down the plains in Oklahoma.
Tweet: Apparently I’m not the first to notice how windy OK is; passing the first wind farm of the trip.

Oklahoma Windmill Farm

Aw, Oklahoma’s trying to do mesas. How cute!

Oklahoma Mesas

Tweet: Done with Oklahoma. Seems like I was in there forever.
Tweet: My ears just popped! This is the most gradual hill ever, but I’m definitely gaining altitude.

Getting into Texas made me happy, even if it is just the panhandle. This landscape agrees with me a lot more than Oklahoma’s, for some reason.

Texas Valley

Then there was this gorgeous sunset.

Texas sunset
Texas Sunset
Texas sunset

And then there was Amarillo.

Click through for Days Two (New Mexico and Arizona) and Three (California).

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Brrrrr

Okay, I know St. Louis weather is freaky. But I thought Texas would be a little more…stable. Yesterday? Must’ve been 90 degrees. Walking to school and back twice used up two shirts, lets just put it that way. Then today, I start to walk outside, and get hit in the face with an arctic blast. Perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps it was in the fifties. Yes. Anyway, I grabbed a jacket, and still literally shivered all the way to school. What’s that about? A forty-degree drop overnight is not cool. (I mean, it is…cool…but you know what I mean.) At the very least, it vastly screwed up my wardrobe choices. ;) And I feel like it’s getting colder, just based on the way I keep having to turn up the thermostat, and even though the air hasn’t come on in a few hours now, I’m getting chills. *breaks out the space heater*

I decided I like writing bibliographies for papers more than the actual papers. They’re straightforward, precise, and clear. I think I’m too analytically-minded to be a great writer in the humanities, but too creatively-minded to be great in other areas. I rebel against whichever type of thinking is required at the given time. I’ve also pretty definitely decided against going on the PhD, which means my sister wins the education competition. ;) I simply can’t take the level of specialization required–even narrowing down to literature originally written in English is bothering me, much less trying to pick an era of concentration, and when the PhD candidates discuss the work they’ve been doing for years on, like, ONE seventeeth-century poet? It makes me want to run screaming for the door in a fit of intellectual claustrophobia. So, no doctorate for me, and I went ahead and laid out my course plans for next year based on a non-thesis track. I’m not entirely sure that’s the right decision, but without the intention of going on the PhD, I just feel like eliminating the thesis would a) remove a lot of stress and b) allow me to take an extra class, thereby adding to the diversity of my knowledge. I like diversity.

Las cucarachas

Dad is telling me roach stories in my previous post.

Had to stop three times to let the ROACHES cross the road. Like you do for deer in other parts of civilization. [near Houston]

I haven’t seen any THAT big. :p But let me tell you about me and the roaches. It’s possible that I had never seen a roach before I moved here. If I had, it didn’t really make a big impression on me. A few weeks ago, the apartment managers put a flyer on everyone’s door saying the exterminators were coming, and had we seen any roaches. At that point, I really hadn’t. So I said so and didn’t really think about it anymore, assuming that everyone who had talked about there being a lot of roaches in Texas was just making it up. (I’m delusional about things like this, seriously…doesn’t matter how often people tell me about bad stuff, I refuse to believe it’s possible, or that it’ll happen to me. I guess everyone’s like that to some degree.) Anyway.

The DAY AFTER the exterminators were here, I see this little black thing in the corner by the door. So I go and inspect it, and I seriously, seriously thought it was a cricket. Which, okay, noisy…but not bad. I helped it out the door. I swear! Then a day or two later, these things were everywhere. (That’s an exaggeration. I still have not seen more than one or two at a time. They come in waves, like a trained army.) And it dawned on me, that wait. I wonder if these are the infamous roaches. But they can’t be! Because these things jump and fly, and roaches don’t jump and fly, do they? DO THEY?! So I had to look them up on the internet to discover that yes, roaches jump and fly, and yes, these are roaches. I felt so dumb, having to look up roaches on the internet.

I figure the exterminators chased them out of everyone else’s apartment, and they came to mine, since I hadn’t had any yet. I spent one night going around and stomping on them, but I got tired of that quickly, especially since they’re kinda tough and jump really fast. So now I have Black Flag to spray them with (it’s kind of fun, actually….they try to jump away, and then they just go limp and flip over on their back–pretty powerful stuff), and some poison thingies. I think I need to get new poison thingies, though. After I put those out I didn’t see any more critters for a couple of weeks, but now they’re starting to resurface. They haven’t been truly bothersome…just annoyances. Well, except the one that jumped on me last night. First time that’s happened. *shudder*

Picspam!

But not much. Mostly, there’s this one:

Dinner! Again

This is perhaps only exciting to me, but I love Chinese food, and I’ve always been too afraid to make it. And of course, I’m still too afraid to actually start from scratch, but I found a frozen General Tso’s Chicken meal at the local grocery store. I got with some trepidation, because I’ve tried frozen Chinese meals before, and they have sucked. But this one is actually really good! And I did the rice myself. Aside from some unfortunate close calls at boiling over, it went well. (I am so impatient, I can hardly stand to actually stay in the kitchen while things are cooking, and rice apparently boils over in the time it takes me to get from the stove to the computer and back again.) In related news, the people who take pictures of food for menus and ads? Have my admiration, because I took about ten pictures before I got one that looked half as good as it looks in real life.

And here’s a couple of others I took a while ago.

Baylor

If you haven’t seen Baylor, it’s beautiful. I only have this one shot of it, for some reason. I should go take more. It’s even more beautiful when you compare it with the rest of Waco, which is…less beautiful. This is the oldest section of campus–the building on the right is the home of the English department.

Best.Interchange.Ever

And this is my new favorite highway interchange, between I-35E and I-635 at the north edge of Dallas. You can’t see it too well from here (it’s hard to take picture while driving, okay?), but there are so many sets of bridges. All the bridge columns are engraved with that design, with the Texas lone star on it. It’s pretty impressive.