Route 66 – Irina’s Journal

Day 8 – Thursday 7th October

The day started as intellectual as yesterday – but I promise it will get better! So, it started with a box of donuts, btw we came to the conclusion that dozen in Texas is 14, at least 1/2 dozen donuts is 7 :-) and a Starbucks coffee , such as JC felt like having a croissant… Now, I did my best, but to eat more than 3 donuts is humanly impossible. On the other hand coffee in the sun, with eyes still half closed and cinnamon aroma… Feels like home…

Getting back to the car, meeting a backpack traveller, saying hi… He did look if he is going to say something, so I waited a bit. I know JC does not take hitch hikers, so had a bad feeling about what he is going to ask … Was very relieved when he said “hm hm would you mind buying me a coffee?” I think he was surprised to see my wide smile after these words. Stepped back into the Starbucks with a guy and got an idea that if he can’t effort a coffee, most probably even less a breakfast. It’s a very awkward moment, because you don’t want to offend the guy either. So I turned to him with an even wider smile and trying to sound as casual as possible said “you know what? Here are 10 dollars, get a nice piece of pie as well. How is back packing going?” I had nothing to worry about, the guy was not offended at all, he just said “it is going ok, just was hungry :-) thanks” nice fellow, a German guy actually. We exchanged the usual “be safe” and continued on our way.

Now, the amazing place today is a small town called Groom. It has a huge cross, I don’t know, 30 meters high. Nice cross on its own, but the amazing thing is the scenery they made around it. You know, as you have in catholic churches – scenes of Bible on the paintings, after each other, like a small story in pictures. Here they did the same, but in sculptures. Real size, from scene of Jesus in front of Pilate, carrying the cross, soldier nailing him to the cross, till the tomb. You have to see it! 10 commandments written in the stone and the fountain of forgiveness with Jesus and cold breeze in a desert. I don’t know how they did it, and I am usually not very impressed by places like that, still there was something very special at this place.

All the rest was much more prosaic. Driving further, getting some stuff for lunch, among other – one of the best apples I ever had – huge red apple, as they usually show in Snow white movies, cold and juicy, full with sweet sour taste and making this nice crunching taste when you bite it… Falling water tower…

Long long way… Picnic in the park. Now, it does not happen to me very often, a couple of times per year, including Christmas, when I usually successfully win the feeling, but sometimes I feel like going to the church and making a short prayer. Today it was inspired by two reasons I suppose – the cross, and the fact that we had lunch very close to the nice white wooden church, that was just asking to be stepped into. So, we finished the lunch and went there. You have to imagine it – around noon, little town of 300 people, big park – picnic area, some houses at the street, not a single person around, nice shady alley and a quite old church. You walk towards it wondering how it looks inside, pass the alley, walk the steps, turn the door handle. It was closed. I guess it’s only open for service. Or only a pure soul may enter :-)

Long long drive again. Entering Oklahoma city area. Got a harmonica. Discovered there are things I am worse in than parking. If JC does not kill me in the next days – it means he’s thrown the poor thing out of the window while driving very fast.

Very impressing red round barn… One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen… Nice dinner at the local diner… First time in the states I have seen bathroom being called powder room :-)

Motel… Scared us by its neon plate first “authentic route 66 motel” hm hm… We didn’t really have a choice – it’s the only one in the neighborhood, but I seriously considered the option of sleeping in the car for a moment. I was wrong and I am glad to admit it – place is very old, but neat and cozy, has a friendly manager and high speed wifi :-)

Has nothing to do with today, just remembered what the retired solder said yesterday “Of course we Americans are friendly! Everyone is armed! You have to be!” :-)

Day 10 – October 9th 2010

Trip from Springfield to St Louis

Nothing really special about this day – very nice road, early autumn, forest starts turning red and yellow, very warm sunny day… The air smells of freshly cut grass, warm leafs and… Strangely… pickles … no idea why :-)

We got to St Louis around 7pm, I didn’t expect the arc to be so high. Or sharp. Great view from the river as well – silver arc on the dark sky and very fine moon next to it…

Day 11 – Sunday 10th October

The day spent in St Louis, home of Huckleberry Finn :-)

Actually, first we went to Eureka, a little town 20 min from the city – the town that stole my heart.    If I ever decide to get away for a couple of years – that’s the place I will go to! Nothing big, nothing fancy – just green, quiet and feels like… home :-)

Then back to the city – Forest Park, city zoo – first time I have seem penguins! Very cute! :-) And really love air-co

And first time I have seen giraffes – they are tall! Very tall! Legs, neck, and the cute way they pick up stuff from the high places, very delicate.

Then the arc and the nice shady place in the park, because I was kind of fainting from the heat… In October.

The river – with steam boats – Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher :-)

Mississippi bridge and a dinner in The Ariston  Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois. A surprisingly fancy restaurant next to the route 66, heavy rich Californian wine, strawberry cake that tastes almost better than freshly picked strawberries and lemon cake with the taste of lemon cloud…

We did get a bit tipsy… And the night is starry indeed… Nice place Illinois! Almost as nice as Arizona

Day 12 – 11th October 2010

Driving to Chicago

Stopped in Springfield (again) but this time in Illinois. How many Springfield’s are there anyway?

Lincoln house. One of the very few politicians I respect. Then new Capitol . Very impressive building! So we stayed for the tour. Btw, I have to admit, I always thought that Chicago was the capital , apparently it’s Springfield. But, the nice thing was at the 3rd floor, just after the explanation about senate and division of seats in house of representatives. In front of the governor s office there are two paintings. As our senior looking guide said: goddess of peace and goddess of war.

I never was very good in history, I know, and even less acceptable that I of all people could forget it, but at that moment I just couldn’t come up with the name of the goddess of peace. She was never very … hm… present in interesting stories, that’s my only excuse. So, I asked the guide. Here the best part comes. “well, they are not real gods, they are Greek” (sorry Romans, you apparently haven’t got any) “they are just called goddess of peace and goddess of war, they haven’t got any names” I opened my mouth to say “well, actually…” but the guy already moved towards the next room – supreme court. Where he showed painting of Femida and said “the goddess of justice” and looking especially at me and speaking like to the little child “called just the goddess of justice” this time he was almost right.

We got to Chicago. I am tired and want to go home…

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