Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So much for the short day

Updated: Photos added, including a bunch after the jump.

So today was supposed to be the easy day - a 500-mile drive to St. Louis, check into the hotel room relatively early, catch up on photos and blogging, all good. Right?

Well, here's what really happened:

The day started off great. We got up at 6:30 as usual, showered, had breakfast, walked the dog and hit the road by 8. We made great time in the morning, got through Tulsa and into Missouri. It was going so well, we decided to push it past St. Louis. We looked at a map and picked Effington, Illinois as our stopping point, about 80 miles past St. Louis. We'd get a head start on the next day's miles, and we still figured we'd get to the hotel by 7 p.m. - not too late.

We called a Best Western in Effington and asked the Big Three Questions:
1) Do you have rooms for the night?
2) Do you have parking for trucks?
3) Do you allow dogs?
We then asked if we needed to make reservations for the night, or if they had enough availability that we could just roll in. We prefer that, in case we want to drive further or less.  They assured us they had plenty of rooms for the night. All good.

Then we hit St. Louis, where the Construction Gods of Missouri decided that the best time to shut down an entire freeway would be, oh, I don't know, how about rush hour?  We hit a wall of traffic (above) at about five o'clock, two miles shy of the on-ramp to Interstate 70. We were on I-270, which split into I-70 and I-64. Except I-64 was shut down. So those two miles? It took us a full hour.  Even in LA, they know not to shut down entire freeways for construction during rush hour. 

Still, we cleared the traffic by about 6 o'clock, got a great view of the Arch (above) as we drove by it, and headed east. All good - we should still be at the hotel by 7:30 or so. We stopped for gas and dinner at a cute little pump-and-munch about 30 miles east of St. Louis, called Funderburks 66. It's the kind of place that gives you a bumper sticker with your gas and food.  Seriously.  We sat outside with Annie and had a relaxing dinner, enjoying beautiful weather. Again, all good.

We got to the Best Western at about 8, and everything turned upside down. First of all, you should know that parking a 26-foot truck that's towing a car is not an easy task. You've got to find the right spot. So we decided to circle the hotel, since the parking lot appeared to go all the way around. Except it didn't actually go all the way around. Which means we had to reverse the truck. Not an easy task.

Twenty-minutes later - and a minor mental meltdown by me - Nicole had taken over the driving duties and successfully turned the truck around. Now, we're frustrated, tired and just want to get into the hotel room. So we park out front in a spot that we think will work, walk up to the front desk - and find out that they sold the last room 20 minutes earlier. And there are no other hotels in Effington that have truck parking and allow pets.  And the next-closest hotel was 30 miles away. 

The meltdown continues. We drive 30 miles, frustrated and tired.  We call ahead to a Quality Inn in Casey, Illinois, ask the big three questions, and are told they don't have truck parking, but they're right next to a Hardee's that does.  We make a reservation.

We get here about 9:30, parked in the Hardee's parking lot - and discovered that while the Quality Inn was right next door, there was a fence and a marsh separating the two, thus making it impossible to simply walk from the Hardee's parking lot to the hotel. So we dragged our suitcase, Annie's crate, the laptop and Annie on a 10-minute walk to the hotel. .  Then we had to wait 20 minutes in the lobby because there's a line to check in. A line! In Casey, Illinois!  At 10 o'clock on a Tuesday night! What are these people doing here? We have no clue.

Finally, we're here. It's 10:30 at night, we have to be up in 8 hours, we're exhausted and frustrated.  Our short day turned into a very, very long day.

So no, there are no pictures. There won't be any pictures, at least not today. And I won't promise any tomorrow. Who knows what the Road Trip Gods have in store for us?

Update: Photos are now after the jump.

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