Road Trip Ramblings
By Ken DeLaat
Part I-The River
In the end I imagine it was mostly about the shoes.
But I'll explain later.
As mentioned awhile back Lifetime Spousal Companion (and possessor of legendary patience) Lil and I embarked on a road trip recently,an intriguing week or so of travel ending all too soon and yet perhaps just in time, depending on how one cares to think about such things.
The journey began with an initial destination of Hannibal, Missouri in mind and little else set in stone.
Weeks before, Lil had inquired as...
...to where we were going.
‘We’re going to the Mississippi. The River. Big Muddy.’
“Why are we going there?”
‘Because you said once you wanted to travel down it, you know, take the River Road south.’
“How is it you remember something I said thirty years ago but can’t seem to recall things I talked to you about yesterday?”
‘I dunno. Short term has never been my forte I guess.’
So after a bit of discussion about where on the river to start we landed on Hannibal and arrived there on a Friday afternoon crossing Old Man River into the home of Tom, Huck, Becky, and Jim.
Accommodations had been previously secured (a bit out of character and part of a personal initiative to at least take a stab at being better organized) and with the help of the Google girl on Lil’s phone we arrived at our destination, a B&B located in the historic district of town.
“Historic” can be a relative term.
‘Significant’, ‘famous’ and ‘memorable’ are among uplifting adjectives closely aligned with historic.
So is old.
The houses on our street, known long ago as “Millionaires Row”, were in various states of repair, as were the sidewalks, streets, and other buildings in the area.
Our home for the next 2 nights seemed to be a bit in need of TLC from the outside, but was overall in pretty good shape and boasted an intriguing design.
I knocked on the door but found no answer nor did the doorbell arouse any signs of life, After waiting a bit and making those exaggerated shrugging motions to Lil who was in the car parked across the street I decided to call.
‘Hi. yeah I’m Ken and I.,....well we.... well,...what I mean is we reserved a room and….....
“You were supposed to call an hour before arriving.”
‘I was? Huh. Well, I guess I didn’t. But at any rate here we are.’ (prior praise for improvement in organizational skills withdrawn).
“I’ll be there in 3 minutes.”
And he was.
The porch and door were guarded suspiciously by a large Bumblebee I later christened ‘Bill’ but while he hovered he never threatened so we got along well. It was a beautiful home on the inside with a pair of sitting areas (a men’s room and a ladies parlor). Our host provided a quick tour , gave us a brief history of the place and of Hannibal then showed us to our room before saying “and this is the bathroom you’ll be sharing with the others.”
Without a glance I was aware that the idea of a shared bathroom was perhaps not the epitome of luxury living promised to Lil as the goal of the trip (once again,organizational skills come into question here).
It would be just 2 days of cohabitation involving what is perhaps the most important room of the house in so many ways and there would be plenty of other places ahead where, I secretly hoped, our bathroom would have an exclusivity clause.
The next couple of days we explored the town and surrounding area that gave rise to one of America’s Literary giants.
Like much of our country’s smaller cities Hannibal seems a town in transition. It’s downtown has been revitalized a bit and was bustling for an April evening with tourists sharing time (and cocktails) with locals at open air bars, or wandering the streets where each eatery seemed to specialize in anything that could possibly be breaded and deep fried and you would be amazed at how many things can be breaded and deep fried.
There were touristy things to do so we did them and the legacy of Mr. Clemens was everywhere. We learned about his family upbringing the characters in the town who influenced his work and walked to the landmarks including the lighthouse named in his honor.
Lil takes sightseeing and walking fairly seriously compared to my tendency toward perpetually reducing personal expectations in such areas, so she walked at a good pace while I tended to more or less amble along.
“Look there’s the lighthouse. Let’s go up there.”
‘You mean all these steps up that hill?’
“Yes. It’ll be a nice walk.”
Iit was 237 steep steps and I managed to refrain from whining until we got to step 214 when there appeared a parking lot.
‘You mean we could have driven to this point,’ I panted?
Lil laughed a bit and walked around a bit more as I embraced a nearby bench for a respite before the less arduous but nonetheless dicey descent.
We managed to find a restaurant serving something other than the aforementioned delectibles and dined there both nights. Hannibal is also where Titanic survivor Mollie (The Unsinkable) Brown is from and a Titanic Dinner had taken place at the restaurant a few days prior that brought out the townsfolks in period garb according to the proprietors, as well as ending with the band playing 'Nearer My God to Thee"
A visit to the legendary cave Twain played in as a child that forged a major part in the Tom Sawyer novel was intriguing as was a tour of Rockcliff Mansion where Twain made a triumphant return to his hometown for a speech he delivered to a packed house of local dignitaries then we lingered a bit at Lover’s Leap, one of what I imagine is part of a veritable plethora of Lover’s Leaps that dot the nation.
Then on Easter Sunday morning, shared bathroom behind us, we hit the road again.
And where does one go if one is cruising aimlessly downriver in the middle of a road trip on Easter Sunday?
Why,Memphis, of course.
Next:”Stuck Inside A Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.”
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