Panama, Suez, or Erie…

Dredging a canal can be weary,

    Driving cross country to boot,

    With a canal to root,

Can leave the driver quite teary.

Enough of the limerick, but take your pick for the pain.  Traversing the great plains for six dismal days during an arctic surge, or, having a root canal on a lower right first molar (#30 to you dental students out there), which would be worse ?

No decision necessary, I am doing both.  


Two hours in the dentist’s chair, commencing at 7 AM, the novocaine began to wear off by noon.  Aware that the post-procedure trauma might be substantial, we ( dog Jack, and I ) opted to head out at 1 PM, aiming for St. Louis by dusk, powered by ibuprofen, vicodin, and Willie Nelson in concert.  Traveling a capella, we had decided to leave the trailer, winterized for the season, at the farm in Indiana.   


View from the kitchen window 


A reluctant Jack posing as a reindeer

The Weather Channel promises daytime highs in the low 30s, teens and lower at night.  The prospect of having no water on board, plus only the seamiest of commercial campgrounds available the week between Christmas and New Year, prompted the decision to enjoy the downscale ambience of Motel Six.  We’ve stayed in so many, it seems like Motel 48.

Strange how one can accept stale odor, limp towels, bars of Ivory soap the size of a milkbone biscuit, and carpet made during the second Reagan administration for $39.99 night because they left the light on for you and your dog.

We awaken the next morning in Florissant, MO, to two inches of fresh snow and 26F. Traveling I-70 west, arguably the most billboarded highway west of the Mississippi, we reach Kansas City.  Torn between invitations to become upscale gentlemen at local XXXX clubs, the wild west, and religious salvation, we are awash in a triangle between unsavory, Calvary and Calgary.

With the lap-top for guidance we have reached a bifurcation (translation: Yogi Berra fork) in the road.  Our options are to continue west toward Denver, where we might make a left hand turn toward Albuquerque, or, hang a left now to Wichita, and take the long chance across the prairie of the grapes of wrath.

My only counsel, Jack, a small terrier of suspicious ancestry, is puzzled when I ask, “From the north pole, an arctic cold wave, blowing and drifting snow is predicted; from the south pole, a blast of moisture and freezing temps across the Gulf of Mexico has left Dallas, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City in a blizzard standstill…which way should we go ?”

Jack, being bi-polar, cocks his head sideways, in stoic silence, eagerly awaiting a dog biscuit and the joy of peeing on real grass in warm weather.  We opt to head on a southwest path toward US 54, between the buns of two major storm fronts through rural Kansas.

“Black ice, white ice, thin ice, who gives a spit”, I announce loudly and positively, “we’re taking the window of slopportunity old buddy, let’s hit it !”

He responds with his favorite ‘Blues Brothers’ bark.  He always wants me in the role of Jake, so he can be Elwood and play the harmonica.  Destination, Pratt, KS by five.     


Blitzen, after the Christmas rush, near Kingman, KS   


  1. says

    I’m sure there’s a story about Kingman Blitzen, but I won’t ask about it. In keeping with “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, I’m not sure I want to know…

    … but I am curious.

    BTW, I hope you did not let Jack see Blitzen…

    Else he’ll never pose as a reindeer for you again!

    Te vaya bien… Travel well.

    B.D.Blitzen, unaware that he was in part responsible for the overpopulation of reindeer, met his demise, rather abruptly. Thanks to the kindness of a chap wearing a fluorescent orange cap, tan denim Carhartt coveralls, and a monstrous 30 gauge shotgun.

  2. says

    Sounds like a little too much Vicodin on this trip!

    I have often made the same observation as you about Missouri highways. Sex shops and religious salvation seem to be in constant conflict. Last time I drove I-44, sex seemed to be winning out. What does this tell us?
    RL,You have to wonder when the religious zealots and the tittie-bar owners will recognize a joint, lucrative opportunity; Sunday Morning worship services held in the XXXX saloons.Each would be targeting an untapped market.Imagine the pole dancer choir sashaying among the tables, leading the congregation in hymns, taking up the collection, not with plates, but with thongs.