Christmas In Kentucky, Chapter II: The ArrivalPosted: December 23, 2012
Wherein I reinforce avoiding a particular vocational path, performed my own interpretation of “Shit My Dad Says,” pay tribute to two idols at once, perspire like our 37th President, and conjecture on Iowans’ driving abilities
The day dawned bright and crisp and fine in Clear Lake, Iowa. Sadly, I didn’t greet it as I was still asleep.
Got back on the road at about 8:30 am. I had chosen to travel through Iowa instead of my normal Wisconsin route as I had heard there was significant snowfall and poor travel between Madison and Rockford, IL. Well, if that were actually true I can’t imagine it was worse than traveling through east central Iowa. It was like a war zone. Travel on interstate highways was down to one lane for several hours: if there was a second lane, it was generally coated with ice. I lost count at 100 cars, trucks, and semis in the ditches. Some of them had rolled over, and I can sympathize. Right around Cedar Rapids the temperatures climbed above freezing, and the improvement in road condition was dramatic.
My dad had a relatively mild (for him) epithet for pokey, oblivious drivers. He termed them “goddamn duds.” Well, he would have had more of his share of goddamn duds on the road this day. Not just on the snow-narrowed roads, but even on the dry and clear straightaways. I’ve devised a working theory about why Iowans drive like they do. At first, I suspected that it was difficult to steer with their elbows because they had both thumbs jammed up their asses. I determined that it’s more basic than that. I don’t want to commit to anything, but it’s diagnostic that they own motor vehicles and DON’T use them to LEAVE IOWA. Draw your own conclusions.
Soundtrack for the day’s trip: The Spongetones, R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Eytan Mirsky, Graham Parker, The Lamont Cranston Band. Radio sucks in the heartland.
Crossing over from Iowa into Missouri I was able to give a tribute to two geniuses at the same time. I was driving on US Highway 61 which of course called for as many lyrics as I could remember of Mr. Zimmerman’s “Highway 61 Revisited”:
Oh, God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son.”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on.”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want, Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run.”
Well, Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says. “Out on Highway 61.”
And 61 leads right through Hannibal, past a huge roadside statue of my favorite author Mr. Clemens, so I gave him his propers as well.
Fourteen hours’ driving. Should have taken nine or ten. Long drive. Long, long drive. Too many goddamn hours behind the wheel. I know right now that I can never be an over-the-road hauler.
A white-knuckle trip through downtown Saint Louis. As Rachael Ray would say, I was “sweating like Nixon.” Still a little shell-shocked from recent driving experiences. I did get to see the Arch lit up at night, though, which was spectacular. If you ever get a chance to ride to the top in it, I highly recommend it.
More driving: Illinois, Indiana, finally crossing the bridge into Kentucky at about 10 pm. Found my way to Mom’s house. Mom, sister Mary, bro-in-law Pete, lovable niece Nolia, and good dog Lady had all stayed up to welcome me. A pint of cider and an hour or so of stories and jokes, and the day caught up with me. All was calm, all was bright.
A hellacious day’s trip, yes. Would I do it again? Oh, hell yes.