So, where was I?? Oh yeah — Baltimore.
Wednesday night closed out well. JB and I went down the street to a tequila bar for some food and a drink (or two).? Yummy food, and wow, good drinks, er, I mean, drink.? Bartender took pity on us, I think, or at least found humor in serving up drinks, er, a drink to a guy who’d been living out of the country for so long.
So.? Thursday.? Wow.? Drove a lot that day.? 600+ miles, from Baltimore to Louisville.? After two nights of about 4.5 hours of sleep each night.? No problem, though.? Took my time.? Even took a cat nap at a restplatz at mid day.
One of my goals of this drive was to stay off of I70.? Interstate 70 is something I’ve been on before (I can’t remember how many times I’ve driven across the country in the last 30+ years), and in a word, it’s boring.? I don’t want to be in Kansas City, I want to drive to Kansas City.? So, getting there is important.
Out of Baltimore, though, I had to suffer through some I70, but just a little.? Then poof, off into the hills.? It looked like this:
Please excuse the dirty windshield.? America is, apparently, a dirty place now.
Along the way, I ran across things I had forgotten about, like this:
Runaway truck ramp?? Yep.? Long hill going down and, well, they plan for the worse.? Never saw this in Europe, that I can think of.
The drive itself was uneventful.? I was amazed at the American drivers — cigarette in one hand and cell phone in the other hand, driving 70 in the left lane for no reason at all.
Lots of puffy clouds, though.
One thing I did decide on the drive, though, was that I was pleased with my plans for my Garmin.? I brought it along, and had picked up a 12v to USB adapter, so that I could keep it charging while I drove.? It’s set to best-record mode, so when this is all over, I should have a great and detailed Google Earth file of the entire drive.
Here’s what it looks like.
I also noticed that day that yes, Tess gets some funny looks.? Here’s a photo of one lady giving Tess the Huh? look.? I wonder if it’s ’cause she’s a Mini, or because of the unusual license plates she’s sporting.
So, good drive.? I got into Louisville around 1800 — a little under 11 hours of driving.? Averaged almost 30 mpg for the drive — up a bunch from my normal 23+ in Germany.? So much for top speeds on the autobahn, huh?
When I was checking in, guy behind the counter asks if there’s anything else he could help me with.? “Yeah,” I say, “did Germany beat Portugal?”? Sure enough, they had.? Best news of the day.
Friday, I was up early and out the door and driving while it was still dark.? Did I mention that I love my car?
Yeah, I do.
I stopped for gas after a little bit, and this is what I was greeted with:
Because obviously, truck drivers crave more than porn, booze and smokes.? But, I should mention that they also had fresh fruit, so I guess they’re taking a holistic approach to caring for the long haul truck drivers. So nice of them, huh?
Filling the tank (12 gallons, on average — just under 50 liters) has generally been about a $50 event.
That’s a far cry from the $100+ that I paid per tank when we drove the Alps.
Coming out of Louisville, I hit the flats.? It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was still pretty flat.? I ran into some long stretches of rain, too.
One thing I did not do was pack meals and eat at the rest areas.? Should have.? Baltimore to Louisville, I did not eat — not sure why, either.? Friday, I stopped for a late breakfast, then had a bagel and cream cheese in St. Louis and a late dinner.? But the rest areas across America are nice and often have picnic areas.
At this one, inside, there was a screen with weather and travel info.? While looking at ti, the man and woman (older) walk over.? “Does it say?” she asks.? “No,” he says.? “I just want to know what bridges aren’t out,” she says.? “Think of it as an adventure,” I say.? He laughs.? She does not.
Soon enough, I was approaching St. Louis.? You can tell you’re getting close — it’s like playing Where’s Waldo:
Just a hint of an Archway peeking through.
St. Louis:? Good town.? How do I know this?? Do you really need to ask that?
I stopped and saw an old friend who lives and works there.? Her office is across the street from a new Mini show room.? She really needs to stop reading this and take a break from her work and go test drive a Clubman.
Really.? Stop reading this.? Go.? Motor on.
St. Louis to Jeff City, where I would spend the night with my cousin and his family.? OK, here’s the story.? I posted a message on a Mini website, saying that I was driving from Germany to Hawaii, via Louisville, St. L, KC, and Augusta, and where should I go, what should I do, etc.? Gal from St. L chimes in — oh, from here, go to Augusta MO, then on to Hermann MO.? Pretty.? German.
Seems that, back in the day, a group of Germans in Philly weren’t happy with the English influence there, so they sought out and bought a huge piece of land out here, because it was just like Germany.? And, having driven through it, I have to say, Yeah.? It is.? They started by building Hermann, and growing grapes, and making wine and beer, and building boats and bricks and musical instruments and so on.? School was taught in German, papers were printed in German, and so on.
So, I have to say, her advice was spot on.? Great driving (55 mph speed limit, too!), and great stops. I picked up some wine at a small winery near Augusta, and some really good beer in Hermann after I had toured the city / town museum.? I had a good laugh on the “tour” (me and a volunteer) when I saw on display an orange cap described as having been worn by a guy when he went to University in Heidelberg.? Pretty funny.
I mentioned flooding and bridges and stuff, right?
Yeah.? None shall pass.? Had one stretch of road closed.? GPS took me around it.
Later today, cousin and I are going back to Hermann — there’s a beer fest.? What?? How can I not go back for that?? $10 says I get to judge the beer or something.? After that, we’ll swing back through here so I can drop him off, then it’s on to Kansas City and, hopefully, a chance to do laundry tomorrow.
(more photos, here)