On Friday morning, we got a bit of a late start because there was still a lot to do. We had to finish loading the car, make sure the last bits of Kris’s things had been moved to storage, all of that. I think we finally got on the road around 11 a.m. Lucky did pretty well in the car, although she didn’t want to lie down in the backseat, she seemed to like sitting up so she could look out the windows. She did very well with the potty thing, though. Apparently when she needs to go outside in the middle of the night, she’ll lick Kris’s face to wake her up. In the car, whenever she needed to go, she’d stick her head over the front seat and start licking the face of whoever was in the passenger seat (she couldn’t reach the driver’s seat because the car was packed to the gills). We got the message, and we’d stop to let her pee whenever she needed to go. Four days in the car and not a single accident, pretty impressive.
Speaking of the pup, I think Lucky pretty quickly developed a bit of a crush on me, and I must say that the feeling was mutual. For someone who wasn’t sure she was a dog person at all, it didn’t take long for me to be completely won over. All three nights that we stayed in hotels, she slept on my bed instead of Kris’s. I think Kris was a little jealous, but she said that she thinks that I must be like the fun aunt who never yells or has to discipline the child like the mommy does. She’s probably right. I even got to the point where I was kind of ok with the face licking, as long as she only did it on my chin. A couple of times she went for it while I was talking and ended up licking my teeth. That kind of grossed me out.
Anyhow, we drove out of Memphis, up through Arkansas, and into Missouri. As much as I was worried about Nebraska, I think Missouri turned out to be the state that felt like it would never end. Here’s what we learned: the only form of industry in Missouri seems to be the anti-abortion movement. I grew up in the South and I thought I knew what kind of right-wing rhetoric to expect on billboards alongside the highway, but oh Missouri, how you have proven me wrong. I don’t think we ever managed to drive ten miles without passing some type of pro-life billboard. My favorite was the obviously photoshopped picture of a baby with its hands folded in prayer, and the line “Pray to end abortion.” Nice.
Oh, but wait, there’s more! There was also a field along the highway that had a larger-than-life statue of Jesus (a totally Caucasian with light brown hair Jesus, naturally) and a sign that said “Abortion kills 40,000 babies every day.” But see, since that message isn’t quite hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-lead-hammer enough, someone also bought the land so they could fill it in with 40,000 individual white crosses. I swear I’m not kidding. I wish I had gotten my camera out in time to take a photo of it, but instead we just whizzed by it at 75 mph and screamed about it after the fact.
I will say this, we had quite possibly the best lunch of the entire trip in Missouri. We ate at a place called Lambert’s, where they’re famous for their “throwed rolls” – literally, there’s a guy with a big tray of rolls who stands on one side of the room and he pitches them to you. Sounds kooky, I know, and it totally is. But they had fried catfish, and fried okra, and black-eyed peas, and all kinds of wonderful things that I only manage to eat when I’m visiting the south, so it made me incredibly happy. Of course, the greasiness of it all made me incredibly sick later, but it was worth it. (Although it’s probably a good thing that I don’t visit the south more often than I do.)
We only made it as far as Kansas City that first night. We checked into a Red Roof Inn (thanks for the suggestion, Angie!), brought in all of our stuff and left Lucky there while we went to find dinner. Kris and I were both so exhausted that neither of us had the presence of mind to think that maybe the dog might just wig the hell out when left alone in a strange place. That accounts for the one accident of the whole trip – Lucky peed in the hotel room while we were at dinner. When we got back and found her in a total panic, we both felt so bad that we didn’t have the heart to yell at her for making a mess. We just cleaned it up and gave her a couple of extra treats. Poor puppy. We didn’t make that mistake again – all future nights on the road, we left her in the car (where she seemed to feel safe) while we went into restaurants to order take-out, then we brought our food back to the hotel room to eat.
The next morning, we got up and had to drive through even more Missouri before we hit the state line. GOD. That state is way bigger than it needs to be.