Difficult night of sleeping last night, what with entirely understandable and predictable separation anxiety on the part of both the boys and Belinda and worries that all our stuff wasn’t going to fit neatly in the car. But the boys woke up with sunny dispositions and I repacked the car and by about ten o’clock we actually put rubber to the road. 486 miles later we’ve stopped for the night in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Not really much to speak of for the day, as we mostly cruised along the Interstate and therefore saw nothing but semi’s and billboards. One slighly interesting observation . . . every fifth truck on the road seems to belong to FedEx. The boys and I play a game of “who will be the first to see (fill-in-the-blank)” to pass the time, and when Will suggested that “a FedEx truck” should be our next target, I figured our attentions would fade and the game would die from a lack of action. But I’ll be damned if that didn’t amuse us for the rest of the day . . . those guys are everywhere, in semi’s, double-trailer rigs, panel trucks, delivery vans. We’ll probably be unable to turn off our FedEx radar for the rest of the trip and be unable to not notice them any more.
Anyway, for me the trip didn’t really begin until just past Paducah, when we finaly left the Interstate for a while and cut across to the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers just south of Cairo, Illinois. The river crossings themselves were spectacular, both on soaring iron truss bridges from yesteryear, long narrow spans requiring white-knuckle driving to avoid scraping the car against the guard rail or oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, in the half-mile or so of dry land between these two cattle chutes, I somehow missed the entrance to Fort Defiance Park at the confluence, but that may be just as well considering that the Mississippi is cresting in these parts at about nine feet above flood stage and the whole place is probably underwater. We tried again here in Cape Girardeau to get to a place where we could stand and watch the river roll by, but the big gates in the riverfront floodwall were predictably closed and the little historic downtown felt more like old East Berlin.
Oh well. We’ve camped for the evening in a generic hotel by the Interstate, and we ate dinner at O’Charley’s (you know how I love their Louisiana Sirloin).