AW

Our Journey Home – Experiencing Missouri

In Family, Life, Pursuit of Happiness on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out as expected.  Our original plan was to leave Tulsa, OK right after rush hour and get to St. Louis by mid-afternoon.  We ended up leaving later and making more stops along the way than anticipated.  After a long day of driving, the last thing that my son wanted to do was to get back in the car to sit in traffic and go to the Cardinals game, so we decided to just spend the night with my wife and daughter.

Aside from great dinner at a restaurant called Trainwreck Saloon and a ride in an outside elevator (which the kids thought was a lot of fun), the only other things that we saw in Missouri were Busch Stadium and the famous Gateway Arch on the way out of town.  Unfortunately, there was no easy way to park the cars loaded with all of our stuff, so we didn’t get the opportunity to get out and see the Gateway Arch in a meaningful way.  But at least we can say that we saw the most famous landmark in the state.

Most of our time in Missouri was spent on the road.  Like Oklahoma, the drive was very scenic and as relaxing as a long drive can be, with one exception.

Driving through Joplin, the town recently devastated by a massive tornado, was kind of surreal.  My closest experience with a tornado was taking cover in a closet the week before we left Texas due to a severe tornado warning.  It never materialized in our area though.

As we passed through Joplin, I was fixated on the leveled land to the right of me.  Every tree had been destroyed, and the few houses that were visible from the road were in very bad shape.  However, the houses on the left side of the highway is where the major destruction took place.  My wife glanced over to that area briefly and was amazed at what she saw.  She said that everything in sight was destroyed.

I’ve been tracking the weather regularly before we travel to make sure that we are not driving directly into a dangerous storm.  Even though I had seen storm clouds many times in Texas, the ones that hovered over Joplin as we drove through still gave me a very uneasy feeling.  Adding to the chilling feeling was the music playing on the radio – “Life Is Beautiful” by Sixx: A.M.  The irony was not lost on me.  The eerie feeling continued as “Diamond Eyes” by Shinedown came on the radio as I left Joplin while seeing signs for a town called “Diamond.”

The rest of the ride through Missouri was uneventful, although we did see some very strange road signs on the way to St. Louis.

The speed limit signs read “Speed Limit 75mph / 50 mph Minimum…No Tolerance.”  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  Did it mean that tickets would be issued at 76mph or that they were keeping a close watch out for those who inexplicably travel at 49mph or less?

The other sign that kept popping up read “Do Not Drive Into Smoke.”  No other instructions were given.  Maybe this means something to the locals, but to us, it was just puzzling.  What if we saw smoke?  Were we just supposed to put the car into park right there on the highway?  Or were we supposed to turn around and go against traffic?

A bizarre sign read “Broken Guardrail Ahead.”  Was this supposed to be a warning for those looking to crash that it would be safer further up the road where a guardrail could help to protect them?  My wife astutely pointed out that they should have spent the time fixing the broken guardrail rather than having a sign made to alert travelers of the danger.

The last signs that had us scratching our heads while laughing read “Hit a Worker – Pay a $10,000 Fine – Lose Your License.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll all for seeing road workers remain safe, but I would think that most people try not to hit them because they don’t run people over as a rule, not because they are deterred by the strict laws forbidding it.

So even though we didn’t get to experience anything particularly fun in Missouri, I will never forget the driving experience.  Aside from the crazy signs, there were also gigantic bugs slamming into the windshield.  So much so that I ran out of wiper fluid while cleaning them off.  It made me wonder how anyone rides a motorcycle on these roads.

On a final note, Missouri has a chain of gas stations called “Kum and Go.”  We didn’t fill up there because we didn’t need gas at the time, but even if we did, we may have gone to the next station anyway.  The last thing that we needed was to have our bank reject our cards because they thought that someone stole them to buy porn in Missouri.

That’s all for now.  I’ll post our Kentucky experiences soon.

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