The drive back.
Ok, I’m not going to lie, it’s a long-ass drive from Minnesota to Alabama and back. Long-ass monkey butt kinda drive. At least it’s an interesting drive, at least the first 2/3rds or so, last 2/3rds are through Iowa and southern Minnesota, where ”interesting” and “scenery” is a far more acquired taste. Unless miles of corn and soy with nary a single variance on the horizon to break the appearance of complete and total flatittude.
Not as flat mind you as southern Illinois, specifically the area around Nashville Illinois where we stopped for the night. My father-in-law once told me, when I suggested a visit to Hoyleton and the surrounding countryside that I should stand on the cab if his dad’s pickup and do a 360, and then go somewhere else. He’s right, but you’d miss an awful lot, namely the hardworking people who have populated this area for generations, even though they haven’t lived there for 50 years, her parents still had great pride when talking about Hoyleton and Nashville and where the Grandparents returned every year from Arizona until it was physically impossible for them. And where, in death they wanted to be buried. In the same church yard, in the same ground where there parents and grand parents were buried.
Nashville is part of the Nashville/New Mindon/Hoyleton metropolitan area. This is Ground Zero for Mrs S, her parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents et. al. were all born and raised within a few tens of miles of the second booth on the right at the Little Nashville Diner along US 24 there between the cities. If you haven’t been there before, I wouldn’t recommend a special trip, but if you find yourself driving between St. Louis MO. And Paducah KY and are hungry.. well keep driving, there’s probably something better to eat in Mount Vernon. But don’t head up before you look around the surrounding countryside. Note that when kids ask “where does food come from?”, Washington County Illinois would be a very viable answer.
In all seriousness for a moment I do have to report on the drought conditions in Central Illinois. Holy SHIT is an understatement. It is almost apocalyptic, miles and miles of dead corn fields, dried up cattle ponds and streams, dried out lawns and everywhere you look, cracked dry earth. Scary to think about what will happen to these folks, and to our food prices come winter.
When we went into the Little Nashville Diner for dinner there was just a hint of an Animal House moment where the kids walking into the bar where Otis Day is playing and everything stops as the patrons, band and staff check out the interlopers. In our case substitute young black folks for old white folks and you’d just about have the same idea.
I couldn’t help but wonder if these folks were friends of my in-laws parents. In fact they’re a lot younger than my in-laws parents… but they’re about the same as the in-laws parents were when I last saw them in Nashville and Hoyleton. It’s one of those time warp things where you remember people and events in the same time and place where they were when you last saw them. I haven’t seen my friend Sam in like, 35 years, and I’m sure I’ll be quite surprised when I run into him again and see that he doesn’t look 17 anymore.
I made the mistake of ordering off the ethnic menu at the Little Nashville, I ordered a quesadilla. BTW the “ethnic food” menu has quesadillas, stuffed manicotti, and sauerkraut and sausage. Chicken quesadilla. In my mind, tortilla’s, cheese, some chicken, maybe a jalapeño pepper. What I got was culinary mess with onions, green peppers, cumin, sauerkraut, weird sauce, and almost no chicken or cheese. These things should be a grilled cheese on tortilla, not some kind of German/Mexican fusion food. Matter of fact the entire parking lot smelled like sauerkraut. Processed sauerkraut.
The drive this morning took us through St. Louis, Hannibal Missouri, Cedar Falls Iowa, Albert Lea Minnesota, Faribault and finally, the Twin Cities. According to the Google about a 10 hour drive. Now here’s where things broke down a little bit this morning. I had an idea in my mind of how I wanted to navigate the trip, Google had suggested a route, and Google and I were in agreement of how to get home. The problem was the chick in the GPS, “the girl friend” as Mrs S calls her routed us through rural fucking Illinois up to US 70, across to Des Moines and on up to the Twin Cities, about a 12 hour drive.
Not my first choice.
The unit has a “Calculate alternative route” button, which I tried. There is more than one way to get there from here. The next route had us driving through St. Louis, all the way across Missouri to Kansas City and then up I-35, about a 16 hour drive. After about a dozen tries it occurred to me to try to do a route with a stop in Hannibal, which worked and which delivered a solution that was 3 hours shorter than anything the stupid thing had proposed up to that point.
So, is that a GPS Tom Tom problem or is it a user error? Or is the chick just bat shit nuts?
And they ask why men don’t ask for directions?