Normally, I’m a creature of habit. You know? Kind of the way a rock is a creature of habit. Five days a week I drive twenty miles southeast to Warsaw, work my shift at Walmart, then drive home. On my days off, if I can’t work it out so I don’t have to, I sometimes drive twelve miles northwest to Clinton to shop and run errands. And that’s it. I can follow this pattern for YEARS without variation and, in fact, I have.
So going somewhere other than Warsaw or Clinton is a big deal for me, even if it just means driving thirty miles north to Warrensburg or Sedalia. Well, today, for the first time in probably more than a decade, I drove nearly ninety miles south, all the way down to the big city of Springfield, Missouri. This is what I learned on my Big Adventure:
There is a chain of convenience stores named Kum and Go. Also, they are sensitive about their name and apparently haunt Twitter, constantly on guard against anyone who would mock them, so that they can respond almost instantly. I am sorry if my amusement insulted them but I doubt I will ever again be able to put a gas nozzle in the tank opening with an entirely straight face.
Highway 13, where it crosses I44, has been redesigned by a team of drunken double-crochet fiends. Seriously. Google “map of Springfield, Missouri” and then enlarge it enough to see the lane detail. I’ll wait.
You see? I thought I was hallucinating (I giggled about the convenience store thing long enough that lack of oxygen was a possibility) or epically lost and wandering around England (again — it could happen!) when I drove it, but the map confirms what I thought I saw. The divided lanes of 13 cross each other (so that you’re driving on the LEFT side of the road going over the overpass), then re-cross each other, then join up into a single road on the other side, going through a combined total of eight intersections. Even the green arrows on the lights are gollywonkers. Going south they point to the eleven o’clock position, then straight, then the one o’clock position, then straight again. I don’t know how they look going north because I took highway 65 back so I wouldn’t have to find out.
Is this normal, regular city drivers? Or is it some kind of entrance exam you have to pass to get into the city?
If it’s designed as an entry exam to keep the bad drivers out, I’d like to point out that it also keeps the bad drivers who are already there in. Like, for example the lady who almost backed into me as she was leaving a business that advertised cheap, easy car insurance.
Of course, there are also many nice people in Springfield, like the kind couple who gave me directions when I got lost in a Walmart parking lot the size of Benton County!
I also learned that their Walmart has long-Johns with dark chocolate frosting and Bavarian creme in the middle. Our Walmart does not have these. This is not fair!
The reason I went to Springfield was to have a new author photo taken (more about that in a day or two) and the couple who run About Faces Photography are lovely, but when someone tells you on the phone to “watch for the mailbox because our sign is easy to miss” you should ask them to be more specific, because EVERYBODY has mailboxes.
I’ve learned that a professional photo shoot is remarkably like a game of Twister and that my head really will only turn so far. I suggested that the gentleman photographer take up photographing owls, as they would actually be *able* to strike the poses he kept asking for.
I’ve learned that if I’m going somewhere with a wide selection of available restaurants I should choose one in advance, lest I get overwhelmed with the choices and end up just hitting a fast food joint. Yes, I’m that lame.
I discovered that my favorite used book store (and this really did surprise me) regularly hosts book signings by local authors. I also learned that the author of one of my favorite children’s books (and still an all-time favorite) Wylly Folk St. John, wrote another children’s book I’d never heard of. AND I scored a copy!
As I mentioned earlier, I took 65 to come back north, in order to miss the tangled skein of roadways at 13 and I44, and in the process I learned that I still suck at merging onto a busy highway.
I learned that there is a Foose, Missouri and that either there is an Urbana, Missouri or I wandered several hundred miles off course and detoured through Illinois.
And, finally, I found Nemo. He’s just a few miles south of Pittsburgh.