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.