We've been a long way since my last post two days ago. We've left rocks in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and I'm getting ready to go put the Arizona rock at a shopping center in Prescott Valley, AZ. :) It's been fun to get feedback on the photos I've posted on Facebook. I still can't get my phone and blogger to see each other. Blogger only sees photos up to 2015 for some reason, which doesn't help at all!
After leaving Indiana, where Matt drove across nearly the whole state, I drove across Illinois and into Missouri. We thought about putting the rock near the Arch in St. Louis, but decided not to deal with the traffic. Next plan was to put it in Columbia which is two hours down I-70 and which is where my husband Bob is from. As soon as we got close to Columbia it started POURING down rain! It continued until we got out of Columbia and were only a couple of miles down the road. It was so funny - it was like a bucket was turned over above Columbia. So, we continued toward Kansas City, another two hours away. Matt decided he wanted some good KC Barbecue and I know that Jack Stack Barbecue is one of the best, so we stopped there before going to my in-laws house. However, Jack Stack is in Overland Park, KANSAS, so we put out the Kansas rock before we put out the Missouri one!
We stayed with my in-laws that night and got to play our normal Chicken Foot Dominos game which is always a lot of fun with a lot of teasing going on. I love Nancy and Dave and am thrilled to have had the most wonderful in-laws, including Bob's Dad Thurman who passed away many years ago.
The next morning as we were leaving KC, I saw some signs on the side of the road where the Oregon Trail crossed the area. Back in 1805, my great-great Grandparents, William M. Bland, Belinda Long Bland and their family crossed the plains in a covered wagon, leaving from Springfield Missouri and heading up to the Oregon Trail. That means that my great grandfather, Thomas Warren Bland, Sr., had walked the very spot when he was five years old. (I'm pretty sure he was five, he was very young - I'll have to go look it up.) It made me choke up, thinking of their little family of boys walking all the way to Oregon! They had two wagons, one for the people and one for the food and belongings, however, Belinda was very pregnant when they left and had her son Isaac as they crossed Nebraska, so she was in the wagon much of the time. I can't even imagine. It made me very grateful for our air conditioned car since it was 88 degrees in KC that day.
Driving through Kansas on the Kansas Turnpike, we saw some smoke off in the distance. It was billowing and spreading across the sky, so something had been on fire for a while. There were many signs about controlled blazes in the area, so that's what we figured it probably was. As we got closer, we saw huge flames coming from a stand of pine trees, and we didn't see any trucks or people nearby, who would have been present for a controlled burn. So, I called 911 and told them about it. I told him it was at mile marker 60, so while he was trying to locate it, I explained what we'd seen and said that it was next to a bridge or overpass. This perked him up. "It was by a bridge?" he asked. I replied yes, that the bridge was 57 point something, (since they all have numbers on them) but that it probably didn't help much since they all had similar numbers and I didn't know the rest. "No," he replied, "that helps a lot!" Oh good! I hope they caught it before it burned too much more!
As we drove south to Oklahoma, (which does NOT have a state sign on I-35! grrr,) we set up to meet with a friend of mine, Matt East, for lunch in Moore. Matt and I were both jurors on a photoshop, photography and writing website called Worth1000 for many years. I've known him over 10 years but until that day, hadn't ever met him in person! Since he's now online friends with several of my family members, we decided to adopt him. LOL It was great to meet him finally.
We continued through Oklahoma and were planning to stay in Amarillo, Texas, but decided to continue on a bit farther, and ended up staying in Tucumcari, New Mexico last night, driving straight into the sunset as we drove west. I tried to drive behind semi-trucks as often as possible to block the sun in my face. Didn't happen often enough! We got up this morning and left with the sunrise, which thankfully was behind us. The temperature hit 100 degrees while we were crossing from Oklahoma to Texas. Super hot for March! The other thing that amazed me was the sheer number of wind turbines across southern Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas. Absolutely incredible. I wonder how much it saves on electricity and fossil fuel for the states?
So, early this morning we left Tucumcari, New Mexico and traveled toward Arizona. I love the stark beauty of New Mexico. I am positive that Matt was a little fed up with me continually saying, "Oh my gosh! Look at that! So gorgeous!" ha!
My friend Mary Catherine messaged me from where she currently lives in England to tell me about a restaurant to try in Albuquerque which just cracked me up that we have the technology to do such a thing! The lady at the gas station where we stopped agreed that they are terrific but then warned us that there's a lot of road construction in that area and it's taking a really long time since it's down to just one lane. We decided to sadly miss going to Frontier Restaurant for a burrito, left the New Mexico rock in front of the Hobby Lobby that was nearby, got back on Route 40 and continued heading west.
I stopped for pictures at the Continental Divide in NM, then as we continued through Arizona, I tried to talk Matt into standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona so I could take his picture. In typical Matt style, he lowered his head, looking up through his eyebrows and slowly asked, "Whhhyyyy?" I played "Take It Easy" for him and he still didn't think it was funny. So I said that *I* would stand on the corner and he could take MY picture. No. Then he continued, "And that's probably the stupidest thing you've wanted to do on this trip." Sigh. I thought it would be funny! We kept driving.
We were about to run out of gas at one point, just before getting to Flagstaff Arizona. We could have made it but the drive through the mountains was eating more gas mileage than the drive on the prairies. So, we stopped at a little place off Route 40 and paid thirty-five cents more a gallon for gas than we had been paying!!! Yikes! There was a very gaunt couple sitting next to a wall with their dog and some meager possessions with a sign saying, "Very Hungry." They looked it. I asked Matt if he minded if I gave them our snacks. He said that was fine, so I took a bag of juices and snacks and told them that it wasn't much but they were welcome to have it. They were thrilled and the small bag of Doritos and the box of Pepperidge Farm cookies were gone before we'd finished pumping gas. It made me happy that I could help a little bit. I tend to be hesitant sometimes because the people don't really look like they are really in need, but this couple very much did. If the gas station had had food, I would have bought them more.
So, we snuck up on Kassy, since she thought we were coming tomorrow. She was still in California this morning and is hurrying home so we can see her and the boys. We'll have time to have dinner together and have hugs and that will be about it.
Matt wants to drive the nearly 700 miles tomorrow rather than stopping another night. We'll see if we can do it! He's driven about 400 miles of the 2100 that we've come so far. So, if my behind holds out, we'll give it a shot. Long day!
I had a mental list of all of the plusses and minuses of the trip so far. Sadly, I don't remember much of any of it. No funny names. No great thoughts. Just a lot of driving with Matt. I'm enjoying being with him and that's enough.