Friday, 27 June 2008

I WENT DOWN TO THE CROSSROADS - 365 MILES


A good evening in Muskogee. Sat in "Chucks Grill" for a few hours chatting with Bill. He was the guy running it on a temporary basis because his brother in law Chuck had just "passed".
He was a cabinet-maker originally and then had moved into nightclub design. He was itching to get his hands on the place and give it a 50's retro theme as the late Chuck had been a singer and had toured the U.S and Canada quite extensively in the 50's and 60's. Chuck also had an addiction to MG cars apparently and at one point owned 8 of them.

As we were shooting the breeze the TV behind his left ear was showing an advert where a middle aged guy rediscovers his wedding suit in the attic. It still fits so he takes his still radiant wife upstairs. He lifts her in his arms then when faced with the staircase puts her down. When they get to the top he picks her up again and carries her into the bedroom. Yup, you guessed - it was a Viagra ad. The other one I have seen is the one with the middle aged couple on the Harley roaring off to the motel. You get the picture.

Bright and early next morning I hit the road once more. After spending seemingly weeks in Texas over the next few hours I left Oklahoma and drove into Kansas where I hit a bit of Route 66 again and crossed the route of last year’s trip at the small town of Iola. Looked pretty much the same as I remembered it. The Crossroads motel where I stayed was still there but I think it must have had a bit of a revamp.

Small-town America is unique and in some ways a little sad. Over the years big business and perhaps recently the economic downturn has left many small towns with parades of boarded- up shops. All the commerce seems to be by a few huge chains who are situated on the outskirts of town. I suppose we are seeing the same thing in the UK now. However in the U.S the devastation is so complete they are like ghost towns.

Shortly after I left Iola as the countryside was getting greener and altogether more fragrant. Trees and fields smell great in an open-topped car. The temperatures had been falling since I left Texas obviously as I was heading north, although Kansas is still described as one of the "Sunshine states".

I heard a muffled bang from the rear of the car but thought little of it. The roads aren't exactly billiard table smooth in these here parts. Then I started to smell beer along with the trees and the grasses. A can in the boot had become so hot and agitated it had exploded. However because the interior was so hot it evaporated more or less immediately so caused no damage to my already rather fusty clothes. I may add at this point I have been a "clean teen" and when in San Antonio had washed all my duds in the motel launderette. Wash, dry and powder for the grand total of $3.25. Under £2 seems a good deal to me. Many of the hotel rooms I have stayed in have had irons and ironing boards too..........not a chance. Life is too short to be uncreased.

I have been driving aimlessly for much of my time here which is great. I have the luxury of time and no real need to be anywhere apart from New York for the flight back.

I have just been a passenger really as the car has headed further and further north through such towns as "Big Cabin", which boasted that it was the "Hay capital of the world" . So where to spend the night? Kansas City seemed a good idea.

It straddles the Missouri river which although swollen was not flooding in these parts as you have probably seen on the news.

Weird to watch the TV which covers a country where there are massive fires in California and in Missouri and Iowa there are severe floods.

Arrived in Kansas City in the rush hour. Headed for Downtown as the city centre was obviously where the action was. Erm, unable to find any hotels at all. So after driving around the financial and theatre districts for a while, KC's loss became St Jo's gain. I headed further north to St Joseph which is in Missouri. A small, pretty town with a lot of boarded-up shops. Biggest thing in town that day had been a fire in a boarded-up store. Everyone was standing around taking pictures of it.

Booked into the motel which was adjacent to its Convention Centre and found that there was a choice. Due to some delegates being in town I could either have a smoking room which reeked. Or the room with wheelchair access which was the same as the others except the furniture was lower and there was a bar in the bathroom.

How Cool is that? I thought......OK - you are ahead of me. It is just that after 8 hours on the road my thoughts turn to beer. Still, it did make it easier getting in and out of the tub.

1 comment:

Chris said...

"However in the U.S the devastation is so complete they are like ghost towns...." Summed up so poignantly in Alan Jackson's 'Little Man'. Keep on truckin', Dark Lord of America, we're all reading back here! ~ CW