Road trip Out West, Part 1 DC to KC

Last week, Seamus and Gilbert went to sleep away camp, while Porter and Harlan did Dance Camp locally. Sleep away camp was good, except for the homophobic conservatives in Seamus’s cabin, but he had his cousin to keep him company and that was a positive. Porter and Harlan worked hard on their dances, but we haven’t received the videos of them yet, and I know they’re anxious to show us (even though we’ve gotten previews at home). We swam at Patrick’s dad’s pool a few days last week, which was nice because we weren’t sure if it was going to open at all this summer. I finished my summer class, had lunch with a couple of friends, conducted the graduate student book club, ended the weekly meetings for summer institute, did search committee responsibilities, and write 4000 words of an article last week. I was exhausted, because I was also re-planning our river trip. You see, normally, the Smith River in Montana, which we were set to float in mid-July runs at 500-400 cfs this time of year. Last I checked, it was running at 83 cfs. That’s 45 miles of portage. No can do. Needless to say, by the time we were packed and ready to head out on Saturday, I was ready for a break! (still had some loose ends to tie up, but that’s okay).

Saturday, we spent all morning packing the van; rain was not in the forecast, but rain it did. I was also trying to empty the fridge and deal with some CSA veggies before it all went bad. I made radish and carrot pickled slaw, pickled beets, a giant loaf of banana bread, and blanched some greens. We left the house as clean as we could, vacuuming before we headed out. We had a little leftover guacamole, so we ordered Jimmy John’s sandwiches to pick up on our way out town, and we doctored them by adding our own guac. Highly recommend. Our first stop was Patrick’s mom’s house, where she had gotten the older boys from camp earlier in the day. We had a fun visit, eating at Danny’s where Gilbert overdid it with a foot-long hot dog and the boys got ice cream from the server for being polite. We were pretty beat, and we knew we had the longest day of driving (9 hours) in our whole trip ahead of us the next day, so we turned in early.

Sunday, we headed to Kentucky, via I-81 and I-40 through Tennessee, which we had just done the week before. We just tried to get there and didn’t stop anywhere interesting. The boys were happy to see the kittens, Junior and Mary, and Snakey was her usual cranky self. Lasagne, and a bunch of bread from the CSA was followed by the real star of the evening—loads of fresh peaches. Yum! The boys were tired from the drive, so they all crashed pretty quickly, especially after Grandaddy told them a very scary story that Harlan had to come out and find out if it was true or not. A quick breakfast of cinnamon bread and fruit, and we were on our way! Kansas City or bust.

Monday, we drove through Owensboro, Evansville, and Illinois on the way to St. Louis. The boys were bored. We listened to the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and they all wanted Cheetos at 9:30 in the morning. They perked up crossing the Ohio River into Indiana, and Harlan asked if anyone lived in Indiana because he didn’t see any houses there. The Mississsippi River was in a flood stage, so that was interesting to see how fast entire trees were headed down river. We stopped in St. Louis, in hopes of eating at The Olde Spaghetti Factory, and seeing the Arch. However, the Spaghetti Factory is only open on weekends, so we diverted to The Lou Eats next door, and that turned out to be even more fun. Very traditional St. Louis food, and introduced us to Provel cheese. Then, we walked over to the grounds of the Gateway Arch as a thunderstorm rolled in. We didn’t go in the arch, as we were trying to make Kansas City by 6:00 to meet up with our friends and their baby. Instead, we walked along the river (much hotter walk than through the beautiful trees in Gateway Park), and stopped for our first picture of Lewis & Clark Expedition memorabilia. We enjoyed patting Seaman (the Newfoundlander) on his bronze tongue! As we drove to Kansas City, we observed all the rivers in flood stage, which filled us with an ironic bitterness, as we contemplated how a little of that water wouldn’t have been unwelcome in Montana on the river we wanted to float. Otherwise, it’s a pretty boring stretch of road from SL to KC.

Kansas City, we had a Residence Inn on the Kansas side. Our friends drove over with their kiddo and we had a picnic on the patio of the hotel. Then the kids splashed around in the pool for a while, and we went back to the room to watch American Ninja Warrior. I walked to Target next door for a microwave popcorn and a few other necessities.


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