Thursday, January 10, 2002

Travelog Day 5: Into the Midwest

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2002 11:45 PM
Subject: Travelog Day 5: Into the Midwest

January 9, 2002

Howdy, it's Marriott. Haley will be our "Caps"-tain tonight. Get it? Get it? Yeah, that's about the brain level I'm working on at the moment. Pretty darn tired and on that cusp of being sick/maybe fighting off being sick/wishful thinking of not being sick.

You should see my nightly ritual. Saline nasal spray, Halls cough drops, chapstick and tissues on the nightstand. Nyquil taken, Breathe Right nasal strip with Vicks on my nose (came free with the saline spray. They are literally scratch and sniff Vicks vapor rub strips. They actually work great.) and earplugs in. Yes, I'm quite the sexy roommate. A PAIR OF POLAR BEAR PAJAMAS WOULD FIX THAT.

Let's see … what we did today. It'll be a short e-mail. As I tell Haley every 10 minutes or so, I miss Arizona. Although I really liked the little town we stayed in last night. SHE IS SOOOO RIGHT. TODAY'S ACTIVITIES WERE NOT NEARLY AS INSPIRING AS OTHER DAYS.

This morning we went to the Potawatomi Nation and visited their museum. It was pretty cool. Small, but a nice collection of artifacts, historical photos and some very cool artwork. SEE, WE ACTUALLY HAD TO GO TO A MUSEUM TO GET IN A TOURISM STOP.

Then, we headed toward Tulsa. Correction, we TRIED to head to Tulsa. Although the map we had said we could take a certain state road to the turnpike, we ended up going right under it and off into the countryside. Took us about 15 minutes (A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE) of random driving to find an entrance and get on the way. Actually, it was very pretty countryside and had we known for sure we were going in the right direction, we probably would have enjoyed the drive. HOWEVER, WE DID GET TO SEE SOME CUTE DOGS – ONE WAS TRYING TO CHASE OUR CAR AND TWO WERE REALLY LITTLE PUPPIES (PROBABLY JUST 2 MONTHS OLD) PLAYING IN THE STREET. WE WERE SO CONCERNED ABOUT THEM WE WERE TEMPTED TO STOP. I GUESS YOU MIGHT CALL THIS ANOTHER WILDLIFE ENCOUNTER.

We hopped off the turnpike to visit a local pottery factory (Frankoma) where Haley bought a set of very nice nesting bowls for her new kitchen. Then we grabbed food at a neat local chain diner (With a pickle bar. No kidding. A whole bar of just pickles.) and hopped back on the turnpike to continue our trip. Correction, we TRIED to hop back on the turnpike. We asked the waitress who confirmed we could hop on just a mile back the way we came. We then followed the "turnpike" signs and did indeed hop on A turnpike. Just the wrong one! Turns out there were two turnpikes and the signs didn't differentiate at all. To make things more frustrating, the turnpike we were on intersected with the one we wanted, but you could only go WEST. Not east. We either had to backtrack the 8-10 miles we had come from originally, or catch the "next" eastbound entrance ramp – 45 minutes away. Not kidding. So backtrack it was. We hopped on and counted the miles until we were out of Oklahoma and off that turnpike! IT WAS ALMOST AS IF THE STATE DIDN'T WANT PEOPLE TO LEAVE THE TURNPIKE AND SPEND THEIR MONEY. OR, WORSE YET, IF YOU LEFT THE TURNPIKE YOU WERE TRAPPED.


We stopped in Springfield to go to the Fantastic Caverns. I'm attaching just one picture to this email because it was hard to get a good shot in the caves and there was nothing else inspiring us to take photos all day. The caves were pretty cool. They were discovered in the mid 1800s. The guy who owned the land put an ad in the paper seeking people to explore the caves. A ladies athletic club responded and the caves were first explored by a group of 12 ladies in 1867 (or so). In the 1920s it was used as a speakeasy. And in the '60s and '70s it was used as a music hall. WE'RE NOT SURE WHEN, BUT SOMETIME BETWEEN THEN AND NOW THE FOCUS OF THE CAVES TURNED TO CONSERVATION.

The tour was a little cheesy since you actually drive through the cave (ON A TRAM), but the guide was very good and they had a lot of neat educational vignettes throughout. Including demonstrating various light sources and how effective they were for the early explorers. Let's just say I'm glad we had our little flashlights from Jules in case of emergency! MARRIOTT EVEN ASKED THE GUIDE TO SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS SO SHE COULD TEST HOW EFFECTIVE THE LITTLE FLASHLIGHT WOULD BE. ANSWER: ENOUGH TO POSSIBLY KEEP A PERSON ALIVE, BUT NOT MUCH MORE. THE OTHER NICE THING WAS THAT WE ALMOST HAD A PERSONAL TOUR, HAVING TO SHARE OUR GUIDE ONLY WITH A GENTLEMAN FROM DALLAS. THE JOYS OF TRAVELING IN JANUARY – TOURISM SPOTS ARE VERY EMPTY.

We headed back on the road with a dinner stop at a neat local restaurant in Rolla, Missouri. A Latin-Italian restaurant. I had spinach lasagna with flan for dessert. (SEE, I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS COMPELLED TO COMMENT ON WHAT WE'RE EATING! WE'RE TRYING VERY HARD TO STAY AWAY FROM RESTAURANTS WE HAVE ACCESS TO NORMALLY.)

Now we're just outside St. Louis for the night. We are going to try to hit the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in the morning and then head on in to Chicago. DO YOU THINK THEY'LL BE LIVE DOGS IN THE MUSEUM? I HOPE SO!


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