Tag: Travel

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.”

Babyshambles – Carry On Up the Morning
Babyshambles – There She Goes

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.

Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse

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


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.

Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man
Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man

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).

Home again, home again

Home to Waco, that is. I realized over the last couple of weeks that I’ve been using “home” to mean whichever place (my parents’ house in St. Louis or my apartment in Waco) I’m not at. Which gets confusing. My apologies for that. In any case, I’m safely back in Texas, uneventful drive, except for the almost constant annoying rain. And the real frogdrowning rain for a few minutes in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has some weird weather, y’all.

But I just looked up what time my class is that starts tomorrow, and it’s from 11:20am to 12:50pm. The heck? Are they serving lunch in this class? That’s the weirdest-timed class I’ve ever seen. And I thought the normal-semester grad class time of 3:30-6:30 was sort of odd. They must have a some sort of sadist writing schedules. Ah well. The good side of that is that I thought it was at 9- or 10-something, and this means I get to sleep later.

In other news, I saw Waitress last night, as my last official activity in St. Louis, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Quite a feat for my most-highly-anticipated indie film of the summer, right? It was warm, and witty, and perhaps a little cliched in one instance which I won’t tell you about, because it would spoil the denoument if I did, but the whole thing was so sweet-hearted that I couldn’t hardly fault it. I’ll write more when I get around to doing May’s recap (still working on April’s…I watched A LOT of movies in April), but I wanted to encourage anyone who likes sweet-tempered indie romances to see it while it’s in theatres. It does have an arguably problematic outlook on adultery for a while, but I think it ended it up okay…good for discussion, at the very least. In related news, the aspiring filmmakers on On the Lot ought to look to Waitress and films like it as examples–tonight’s set of short films (the ones I saw…I got home about halfway through) largely did themselves in through trying to be too clever. Just be real, folks. Be real. (How’s that for a cliche?)

Oh, and also, no Music Monday this week. I was going to do it tonight, but I’m just too tired. I also know I missed Trailer Thursday last week or two, but there’s not much coming out…Shrek 3 and Pirates 3, and you pretty much know whether or not you want to see those without even seeing a trailer. It’s a paradoxical fact that the more free time I have, the less I blog.

Waco Update, Part 1

Quick update as we’re eating breakfast, about to go unpack more stuff.

We got everything packed up on Saturday and Sunday. Dad says I already have too much stuff. Oh, well. I’m a packrat, what can I say? And by and large, the highest percentage of stuff I think was books, which is okay with me. Sunday afternoon, we hit a Uhaul snag. (Nothing like Barlow’s Uhaul experience, though…ours is positively boring in comparison.) Uhaul called around 3pm to confirm that the truck would be available for us to pick up on Monday after 11am. Except the guys Dad hired to load the truck were contracted for 9am. After talking with regional and national managers, Dad got nowhere with Uhaul and finally called Budget, who had a truck on the lot available at 8am for the same price, as long as Dad got there first to pick it up (no reserves on that short notice, but they could do first come first serve, I guess). So Dad picked up a Budget truck at 8:30, the loaders came at 8:45, and everything was on the truck by 10:00. (At which point Uhaul called and told us they had a truck ready, but um, a bit late.) So everything worked out great, but no more Uhaul for us, I think!

The trip down to Waco wasn’t quite as hilarious as the time I drove down with a friend of mine and we found EVERYTHING funny, but I think the trip will always hold some amount of humor, just because Missouri and Oklahoma rural areas are humorous. There’s a restaurant called “Missouri Hick BBQ”, which is listed on those signs that tell you what’s at each exit. I was afraid to ask whether the hicks were running the BBQ or if they were being BBQed. Grammatically, it could go either way. Then there was the ersatz fruit stand which was empty, but someone had put up a big piece of plywood in front of it and spraypainted “Bill Collins robbed my house, the dirty low-down coward” on it. (Name changed to protect the apparently guilty.) If you can’t get justice, at least whine about it so that all of I-44 can see it.

Restaurant recommendation for Joplin, MO: Pizza by Stout. Great pizza, subs, salad bar, cinnamon rolls, and more kinds of beer than you can shake a stick at. Looks like a dive on the outside, but it’s nice inside, and the service is as friendly as the food is good.

Gotta go now, the hotel is about to kick us out…we’re in Waco, safe and sound, and the truck is unloaded and most stuff is at least in nominal place. Still need to hook up the TV (hence why I stayed at the hotel again last night…had to get my So You Think You Can Dance fix!) and other electronics. Cable and internet should be on, though…it’s included with the apartment rent, which is the most awesome thing about the apartment. I’ve just got to get Time Warner to bring me a DVR, stat, and I’ll be all set.

Pray for Dad, if you get the chance. He’s on his way back from emergency dental care right now…he’s had a minor toothache for a couple of days, but last night and this morning it was significantly worse, so he found a dentist not too far away that could do emergencies. Apparently the tooth is abcessed, so he’s just got some stronger painkillers, but I don’t think it’ll be fixed until he gets home. Not sure on all that, I’m going on third-hand information. Mom and Dad should be leaving this afternoon sometime and getting home tomorrow afternoon.


I love being on vacation. I want to do it all the time. But then I might get bored of it.

Good drive down to Florida this year. We did a couple of hours Friday night after I got off work, and then the rest on Saturday. I ended up driving most of Saturday, because Dad was reading. Yep, that’s right. My Dad, the man who rarely reads more than a magazine every now and again, is now almost halfway through Catch-22. I recommended it to him after I read it and loved it last year, and we finally decided that this trip was the time he should read it. To be honest, I was completely prepared for him to give up, but he’s really enjoying it. Mom pointed out to me that he really does enjoy reading when he’s got time and doesn’t feel like he should be doing something more productive, which is really right. I’m just really glad he’s liking it. And I finally convinced Mom that Reading Lolita in Tehran isn’t really about Lolita and that she might like it and not get corrupted by the presence of Lolita. And she is liking it! So far my book recommendations this trip have really panned out nicely.

Meanwhile, I read an entire Agatha Christie mystery today. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I’ve read a lot of Christie novels before, but not this one…and I saw it written up on a few “best of” sort of lists recently, so I thought I’d check it out. Really great detective novel. Agatha Christie is such good vacation reading…light, easy, fun, and makes you think only in an enjoyable “solve the mystery” sort of way. So now I only have seven books left to read on the trip. Yeah, I way overdo it. Always have.

I haven’t been down to Pensacola Beach since Hurricane Ivan devastated the place two years ago. My parents were down last year, so I’d heard about it, but even now it’s still pretty bad. The beach is completely flat in most places, no sand dunes. About half of the condos are still out of commission, and the road is in the process of being completely redone. Construction equipment everywhere, and piles of sand and debris that have been sifted out of one another. I’ve seen it after hurricanes before, but never like this. And this is two years later! Dad’s amazed that it’s taking so long to get stuff fixed…I’m speculating that some of the labor force has been siphoned off to New Orleans, but who knows. Maybe the condo owners are just still arguing with the insurance companies.

The condos we used to rent aren’t opened back up yet. The ones we’re in are pretty nice, but there’s no pool or tennis courts. But there’s a great balcony overlooking the Gulf, and I get to sleep in where the TV is, which is fine with me. ;) And I’ve just discovered that there’s a wireless internet connection (obviously!). Although I probably would’ve gotten more reading done had I not discovered that I can use the internet. Oh well.

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