Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Have Atlas Will Travel

My job on road trips is to read the map and find either the fastest or the most scenic route to wherever we're going. It's also nice if I can actually find where we're going, but with road trips ... as in life ... the journey is as important as the destination.

We love road atlases, and as a testament to that fact we own a huge one ... the kind where, when you open the sucker all the way up, the person doing the driving practically has to duck around it to see the road.

Our atlas doesn't just show you the highways, byways and mileages, it has tiny little notations about the interesting things to see along the way, so that you won't miss stuff like the World's Biggest Pecan (a giant concrete nut in Brunswick, Missouri) or the Giant Conestoga Wagon in Milford, Nebraska, conveniently located across the street from the pig farm where we picked up the Jeep. Had we known the Giant Conestoga was famous, and not just a really huge eyesore, we might have tried to hold our breath long enough to take it's picture. Alas, we did not.

We did, however, pass the Elvis Is Alive Museum in Wright City, MO. I only wish we'd had the time to stop, as I understand they have a tastefully trashy replica of Elvis in his casket, as well as some of his DNA, preserved for posterity. Graceland, shmaceland.

We also passed the boyhood home of Walt Disney, in Marceline, Missouri.
Now this is a really intriguing thing, since Walt's childhood in that sleepy little town was so miserable that his parents moved away from Marceline to get him away from the abusive little bastards who were making his young life a living hell and give him a chance for some happiness. Now they've got a museum dedicated to the city's Favorite Son. Amazing how a little time, a few zillion dollars and a mouse in shorts can rewrite history.

But the real benefit to these road trips (besides the capture of crappy old Jeeps, fast food and learning all the really great intimate secrets of your partner's sexual history) is that you get a feel for the places you want to go back to when you aren't attached to a car hauler. This trip introduced us to the possibilities of Hannibal, Missouri ... a place to which we fully intend to return for full-blown touristing.

Hannibal, from what we could see of it, looks like a great place to explore. There's the Clemens home, where Samuel grew up to become Mark Twain, the whitewashed picket fence of Tom Sawyer fame, and the cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher narrowly escape a grisly death at the hands of Injun Joe ... a passage which repeatedly scared the knickers off a much younger Evie.

It's also in the heart of some of the best, and most prolific, antique hunting spots we've stumbled on in our travels, which means we'll be needing to take the truck when we go back. :)

Ev's told you about the Jeep and the seizure and the lack of sleep, but there were a couple of moments along the road that were pretty much the defining moments, for me, of why it is we like road trips (and each other) so much.

Frequently during these trips we both look at something at the exact same moment, speak the exact same sentence aloud with the same vocal inflection, and then laugh. The first time it happened on this trip it was three cows huddled under a shade tree, drawing a sentimental ""awwwww" from both of us. Sometimes it's, "Great barn!" Quite often it's, "Nice house, but it's too close to the road." But really, the quintessential moment was when we passed a newly plowed field and we both exclaimed, "Oooooh! Great dirt!"



Feral Mom said...

The next time you pass the Elvis is Alive museum, you must check it out! It reeks delightfully of donuts and bacon, and the narrative is hypnotic--by the time I left, I was transformed from a naysayer to an agnostic. Elvis MIGHT be alive. You never know.

Kwach said...

thankyouverymuch ...



Island Dreamer said...

Believe me. You missed nothing by not stopping at the Elvis museum. I was passing through with my 2 boys. We stopped for a burger and to check out the ultimate in tacky. The place has 30 years of grease, dust and nicotine on everything that hadn't been disposed of since 1975. It was like a Jr High carnival version of a made up Ripley's Believe It or Not! The kids found it so bad it was funny, so if you are in for one of those disgusted type laughs - Have At It Hound Dog!