“The Wayward Traveler Chronicles” will be a series of journal entries recording my trip across the country from Maine to California.
Day 7 of the trip began right. First, after chugging that Timmy Ho’s from last night (refrigerated of course), I stocked up once more for the long road ahead.
My initial plan had been hampered by the much-needed pit stop an hour earlier in Hilliard, so I needed to either make up for lost time, or chart an alternative route. I’d been warned of some parts of Missouri, so I didn’t want to end up in the South without a proper lodging option (and by no means is that an insult).
But if I only went to St. Louis, then I’d only have a seven-hour day today, and that would put me behind further. I suppose it didn’t help that I checked out at 10am, another hour later than when I began my travel from Connecticut the previous day. So I suppose my decision was made for me: alternative route it is.
I found that while it’s not on the highway of least resistance, if I ventured west of St. Louis and went to the next biggest city, Kansas City, at least I’d be heading west. And look, it’s a near-identical day to the one I was set on traveling before: around 650 miles.
I immediately pulled my phone out to look for Marriotts at which to stay, so that I could continue to earn points. There were several there, and I chose the one with the most ratings. It was a bit pricier than the branch in Hilliard, but I’m a sucker for consistency. I checked one other one, same price. Oh well, I guess I’ll pay $188 for the night after tax; a far cry from the $117 after tax in Ohio.
Here is a side note: ANOTHER THING I forgot from the day prior! In my long time in Pennsylvania, I had come across a valley town of almost nothing but roadside restaurants and hotel chains. Each one had their own spire, adorned with the respective logo at its peak, reaching high above the actual buildings. Now, this is no different than any other off-highway sign; at a height designed to be viewed from the highway.
But in this valley of Commercialism… McDonald’s, Arby’s, Chipotle, Burger King, etc. But amongst the thin giants was one lone outlier, a sign that simply said “ADULT.”
This alarming trend continued as I realized just how many Adult-themed stores there were on the way to Kansas City. There was one chain that had a billboard detailing the three exits for each offshoot.
Another thing I had noticed from both this day and the last, was a thing I lovingly call “Dirt Graffiti.” In the myriad trucks I viewed going by, sometimes I’d find some who were marked with certain phrases. I had seen the typical “Wash Me,” the amusing/disturbing “Send Help,” “Trump/Pence,” and my favorite:
Right before heading into Indiana, I came across over thirty identical tan military trucks in a row. It was odd and left me with many questions.
But yes, I finally left Ohio and came into…
INDIANA! Another new State.
As I continued past Indianapolis, I thought as to how much time and work these journal entries were consuming. I assumed it wouldn’t be as taxing as it had become, but then again, lots of things turned out that way for me. Oh yeah, I’ll have plenty of time to get all of the writing done, and edit Not Quite Hollywood... Sure.
It was at that time I needed to stop for gas (and food). I pulled into a Marathon and filled up, then debated my food options. I decided to go the “healthier” route and went to the (Drive-Thru!) Subway nearby. Here, I ordered the Autumn Turkey sandwich, but since it was National Sandwich Day, I ordered another six inch for free. And as I was leaving, I caught a glimpse of something my friend Mike would like:
I noticed something else this time getting my fountain Coca-Cola… They knew how to do their Coke in Indiana! I was never a big Coke guy, but this one had a nice bite to it; almost as though it had a hint of Dr. Pepper for some reason, or at least what tasted like it. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t like Dr. Pepper, but man it was a good Coke. I get it now, Tim Gettys, I get it.
After that, I felt lethargic, so I went to acquire some more healthy items for the journey. I found the nearest grocery store and bought two gallons of water, some tomatoes, and some red delicious apples.
It was nice to get out of the car again, as I felt incredibly lazy on this trip. Even as I write this, I’m still sitting.
It was at that moment, that I felt inclined to take a photo of my own car, to see the perspective of the ones I’d meet on my travels.
Jumping back on the highway, my GPS continued to say I would arrive around 8:15, so I made up my mind and told myself that in Kansas City, I would watch an early showing of Doctor Strange. If Bangor had them, surely KC would! I searched Yelp! for movie theaters; then my heart stopped. They had an ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE!
Holy shit! This chain was designed with the film fan in mind. Movie-inspired dishes and decor, film nights, edited videos for the entertainment of the patrons prior to the show, and they will kick people out if they disrupt the film!
Then as I crossed into Illinois:
I began to notice how similar all of the States had appeared. I know, I didn’t hit the plains or the desert yet, but I had come to the realization that we all tend to pick apart the few differences we have across the country nay, the world, and we have so much in common. It’s like I mentioned in my post about Sonder, we’re all extras in someone else’s life; each person has their own drama, successes, failures, families, trials, and tribulations to worry about. The attendant at the gas station, the people at Subway, the hundreds I pass on the highway– I’ll never see them again, but we’re all so similar that when we squabble, it really shouldn’t escalate to anything more than a disagreement.
Then again, since we’re so alike, we look for the irregularities in others, in ourselves to make us stand out; for us to be unique. And we all want to be unique, right? To stand out? In the end, you may never get above the crowd. And that’s indicative of what I’m setting out to do. I want to make a name for myself in Los Angeles. Now, I may not be as unique as I believe, but at any rate, I will try because I’m only happy when I’m working on a film. So why fight it?
It was just a moment of clarity of the world in which we surround ourselves.
Some of you have asked what I’ve been using for apps when I travel across country. So far, my Google Maps GPS, then Yelp!, and when I can, GasBuddy. GasBuddy lets you know not only where the nearest gas stations are, but which is the cheapest and if it’s worth your time to get there. It’s a cool app.
I looked at my car clock to check the time, and– OH wait! I crossed into Central time! For the first time ever, I’ve crossed into a different American time zone! Immediately, I thought to myself I’ll change it when I get ba– No, I won’t. In fact, I’ll soon change it to reflect an even earlier time. I suppose this is the end of the Eastern Time Zone “era.” I think I’ll keep it on Eastern so when I call my family, I’ll easily be able to decipher their schedules.
Upon entering Casey, Illinois, I came across signs for the World’s Largest Golf Tee, The World’s Largest Rocking Chair, and the World’s Largest Wind Chime…
Speaking of religion, I noticed a lot of religious billboards. Most featured a phrase from the bible and some even defended Jesus’ exisitence saying, “There IS proof that God exists” next to a picture of a baby and a phone number. Now, I’m not judging anyone, because to each their own, but I did see a disturbing one.
No, the one that was disturbing was because it was confusing in its message. It was a large sign, the top of which had a thin section of pure white with the small centered words: FREE FOR ALL. Then immediately under this narrow strip of white was the 90% of the rest of the rest of the billboard covered in fire, and the word FOREVER in the largest letters possible in the fire. Wait, so does this mean that Heaven is Free for all, but some may fall into hell, Forever? Or does it mean that we are all in a state of free for all, and Hell is forever? You know what, I’m not going to think about this anymore, it’s too confusing.
Then there were some bizarre signs from the State Traffic Authority. For example, you’ll see $500 fine for littering in New York, but I found in some States, this: “Hit a Worker- $14,000 fine, Ten Years in Jail.” To top it off, it was in front of a pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon. Huh?! Later in another state, I found another sign: “Hit a Worker- $10,000 fine, Lose Your License.” Now, I’m all for not hitting anyone, but if they had to make SIGNS to warn people of the penalties for hitting a road worker, then it makes me wonder how often this occurs.
In Missouri, I found something I had never seen before.There are roads butting up to the highway, on either side. Now, I’ve seen serpentining roads hugs the highway from time to time, but this was for dozens of miles, parallel to the highway. At one point, I had a car who kept up speed with me on the left side of the opposite side of the highway, so that we were going the same direction. Immediately, I had the urge to yell (and did so): “You’re GOING THE WRONG WAY!” like the classic scene in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
In a guaranteed precursor to my upcoming time in the desert, I found that Missouri was quiet; there were a lot less exits that had anything to offer. From St. Louis until Columbia (about a hundred miles), were fields. Finally, as the sun set on Missouri, I reached my destination: Kansas City.
The drive to the hotel was… nice. Kansas City has a great flow that isn’t confusing or obtrusive; the city is designed perfectly, and it felt largely empty. I guess it’s that way considering the population is just under five hundred thousand people.
I checked in and then realized my error with the “Residence Inn” wording in this Marriott. The room is an apartment.
Now I paid $188 for this, but the real price?
I thought about walking to the Alamo for the movie, but it was an hour walk (this city is huge!). So I drove down, hoping to get a parking space. I decided to stop a half mile out just to get some exercise and see the city firsthand.
I’ve fallen in love. Kansas City is my favorite city ever. It feels like it’s in its early stages for population, but advanced in its layout and aesthetics. It’s so nice that I might become a Chiefs fan just because of their city. Oh, and they have rail cars!
I reached the Alamo, and boy was it breathtaking.
As I went in, there was a full bar on the right, a gift shop in front of me, and plenty of lounge seating to the left. I went to show the lady my digital ticket, but she explained the process to me. I go into my theater when it opens, show them the ticket (be there half an hour earlier), and place your order on the order card. Then when it’s ready, they’ll bring it to you. Anything else you need, just write on a new card.
The half hour before the film is chock full of old clips from films, and tailor-made information relevant to the film you’re about to watch. For example, they showed the film history of Doctor Strange (which only encompassed a 1978 TV movie, and a knock-off), then the animated history, which was much more prominent.
Then they showed clips of amazing old Taiwanese and Hong Kong B-Movies featuring spirits, swordplay, and babies coming out of peaches.
The experience was wonderful and I would recommend anyone traveling to look for an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in their area.
Doctor Strange was a wild trip into a different side of Marvel. The biggest issue with the film is that it’s a typical origin story, but everything else surrounding it makes for one hell of a great time. I actually wish I had seen it in 3D, as the visuals were trippy.
Here is the UPDATED list of States I’ve visited thus far: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri. [ELEVEN]
But that’s this day, folks! Stay tuned as I continue on in my trek across the United States!
Money Spent for Gas: $30.70 ($121.00 Total)
Miles Traveled Today: 663.9 miles (1,699 Miles total)
Data Used: 319 MB (1.2 GB total this month)
Stay tuned as I continue my tale of travel across the United States!