Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Day 5 -- Brentwood, Tennessee
Some say ultra marathons test the limits of human endurance. Climbing Mt. Everest is probably fairly taxing. No disrespect, but try driving 11 children across this great country. Kids squawking -- Eli seems to have trouble grasping the notion that I relay to him, which is essentially as follows: "We'll get there when we get there and we're not there now nor will we be there anytime soon." What's so difficult about that? -- and crumbs of chips, crackers and assorted other snacks strewn about the van, so deep in some places that you have to wade through them. Clothes and blankets and pillows are scattered about and crayons are melting on the dashboard and to top it all off we're not even close to being there yet! I believe it was Monday morning when I awoke in Lee's Summit, Mo., and wandered about Grandma Anna's house trying to get my bearings.
We did a load of laundry, changed diapers (Ezra, fortunately, only takes care of his business when we're out of the van. Otherwise we'd really be in trouble and I'm sure our van would replace Jerome, Idaho, as the smelliest place on whatever freeway we were driving.), and basically tried to recover. I took a walk around the block and three people actually waved to me. As far as I'm concerned, that makes Lee's Summit an official "Friendly City." I'll send them a plaque when I get around to it. Anna's Uncle Tom and Aunt Deanna showed up around 9 a.m. and treated us to breakfast at a nearby Perkin's restaurant. I think Uncle Tom had to get a line of credit to spring for breakfast. God bless that man. I'm not sure if he knew what he was getting into when he offered to buy...but man, it was a good breakfast. We basically cleaned the place out -- I don't think I've ever seen my little kids put down pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and anything else like that before. I moved the salt and pepper shakers away from them out of fear they'd down those in the eating hubbub. We basically had to roll Ethan and Taylor out of the restaurant and I think I saw the restaurant manager hanging the "Closed" sign in the door after we left. Thanks again Uncle Tom and Aunt Deanna. We hope you come see us.
Of course, 15 minutes down the road Eli said he was hungry. I looked at Julie and just shook my head. "I think he's bored," I said. We zipped through Missouri with relative ease, making a stop east of St. Louis to fuel up and score some fries for the little ones. Taylor was riding in Anna's car with Ethan and Evie and her air conditioning is broke. That's not a good thing this time of year. In a word, `sweltering.' So Taylor changed his shirt and of course left his soaked shirt in the van. I guess he figured the ripeness would help keep me awake.
After Missouri comes ... Illinois. That's right. Illinois. How could I forget. Funny, it looks just like Missouri. Lots of farm fields. Lots of trees. Roadkill. The usual. We stopped in Vienna, Illinois, for dinner and let me just set you straight right now. It's not pronounced `Vee-enna' as in Austria. Pronounce it `Vy-enna' like it rhymes with bienna. I'm not clear why this is. The young gal at the counter didn't know the history of the pronunciation, or mispronunciation, however you see it. Moving right along, the proprietors of the Dairy Queen we enriched with our business are as fine as folks as you'd find on either side of the Mississippi. Ann and Chester Lawrence run a good DQ (it doesn't hurt that Chester gave me a free Dilly Bar) and if you find yourself with a hankering for some grub while on I-57 in Illinois, I recommend Dairy Queen in Vienna.
After a relatively short sprint down I-24 through western Kentucky (What's it like there, you ask? Hmmmm. How about this: Think trees, farm fields and roadkill.) we made it to Brentwood, Tennessee, about 9:30 p.m., passing the 2,500-mile mark along the way. We're staying with Aunt Jami and Uncle John (Jami is Julie's oldest sister) and their boy Tommy in Brentwood, which is outside Nashville and home to Dolly Parton. I'll take a photo of her house for y'all. It's so nice to be here and rest. The kids are out back in the sweltering heat cooling off in the kiddie pool and Julie and the girls are going to go shopping at the mall later today. I got the AC fixed in Anna's car today and we're ready for the last leg of the trip. But, uh, maybe we'll stay here another day to rest up properly. Plus, it will give me a whole day to clean the van. I think it might take that long. I'm literally afraid of what I'll find in there.