Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Step By Step

Nope, no photo today. A pic of the Intrepid in a Walmart parking lot in Jefferson City, Missouri just isn’t that exciting. Once I reached Kansas, I noticed that there was some greenery on either side of the highways, and in Missouri, it’s doubly so. Trees, bushes, weeds, you name it, it’s lush. And the rolling hills are a bit like Wisconsin – the cruise control is getting a workout now, though that’s not the most fuel-efficient way to travel. Still, I’ve been reaching 15 MPG as a daily average, which is pretty good for the 2008 series of Ford diesels. They’re reputed to be the worst of the bunch, thanks to the quirks of the then-new emissions system and tow-oriented axle ratios that were soon after found to be overkill. Ford went to taller ratios afterward, once Ford convinced itself that the motor wouldn’t bust a gut. That probably involved a little anxiety, since some 80% of all Super Dutys are estimated to regularly used for towing of some kind. Not something you’ll be tempted to bring up at your next party, but there it is.

I’m on a travel schedule, but since I’m taking state and county highways almost exclusively, the small towns here in Missouri are a far cry from the near-ghost towns farther west. There’s often something worth a stop here and there, and the towns are comparatively vibrant and proud. And, my policy of trying to hit locally-owned cafes instead of national franchises is still paying off big. One town offered Shirley’s Highway Cafe, and I managed to have a pretty sumptuous breakfast at 2 PM for no more than Burger King would have cost. Plus, the staff greets you warmly as soon as you limp through the door. Good food, generous portions. Between the roads and the businesses, it’s just a different experience than my usual Interstate commute has been in the past. With the emphasis off of mile count and on enjoy-the-trip, it’s been nice.

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6 thoughts on “Step By Step

  1. Chris lemcke on said:

    Love the stories about places like Shirley’s!

    • They are a comparatively rare treat now, aren’t they? In olden days, people ate at franchises like Howard Johnson’s to avoid singing into the porcelain bowl that evening. It was a food safety thing. These days, they’re on equal footing but I think people hit the franchises to get eating over with and out of the way. We get so used to that and preprocessed groceries that “eating out” is buying a roasted chicken at the food store. Hopefully, there will always be at least a few roadside cafes to enjoy. Their time has passed, and I can’t label it as progress.

  2. Ming on said:

    Eating establishments like the ones you describe are a big part of what I enjoy about traveling!

    It must feel so much freer for you to not be dragging a trailer behind you everywhere you go.

    • The commute os about the only time I’ll eat out, since the cost adds up. Although the Intrepid takes up about 1-1/2 lengths of common car spaces, the difference in convenience is huge!

  3. Linda Sand on said:

    Yes, easier to stop at those small town cafe’s now that your rig is not so long. We had a 24′ Class C with no toad when we drove Route 66 so we were able to park at all those diners, too.

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