04.06.2011 - 09.06.2011
Of course all the planning, packing and organising means nothing when the windscreen of your plane breaks and your flight is cancelled (sigh). But we eventually left the UK behind after a mere 8 hours at Heathrow with the added surprise of an upgrade and Arthur sleeping like an angel almost the whole way. We made it safely to Washington DC Saturday night but... our bags did not.
We had a couple of days in Reston, Virginia with the wonderful Peters family who outdid themselves with their hospitality yet again. Our bags eventually landed, Jo took me shopping for provisions and final baby paraphenalia for the trip, and Jim kindly flew Ben to New Jersey to pick up our RV. My stepbrother Ed and his fiance Em popped out to see us for lunch on Sunday too.
Ben, having gotten used to the size of it on the trip down from NJ, was confident at the wheel while I just thanked the gods of roads that American lanes are so wide so as to accommodate Harrison's bulk. From Virginia we skimmed along Maryland's pan handle (missing some potentially diverting towns such as Funkstown and Accident). Next was West Virginia which while lush and green was fairly uneventful aside from the truck directly in front of us getting a blow out which required evasive action to avoid hitting both truck and tyre. Our fourth and final state for the day was Kentucky. The area around Lexington was serious horse money - lovely undulating pastures, neat fences and nouveau-riche mansions but not many horses visible!
We arrived at Kentucky Horse Park just north of Lexington around 9pm - our longest day in the itinerary - and after a quick tea it was straight to bed for the three of us once we figured out how the beds worked. Woke in the morning to another hot day, it has been at least 30 C every day so far. On wandering the 40m or so to the bathroom, I realised I was the only one walking - everyone else uses a golf cart to get around!
Before departing Kentucky on Wednesday, we had to pause en route for an essential stop. Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken. But imagine our shame in presenting ourselves at a KFC just off the interstate only to be asked politely to go away for 20 minutes because they weren't open yet. I imagined they were dialling social services to report two persons bringing a 7 month old baby into a KFC at 10am. So we returned for our obligatory chicken and to all Arthur's grandparents reading this...we did not give him anything to eat from KFC!
We passed through Louisville and into Indiana which we skimmed across the bottom of, followed by southern Illinois - just flat crop fields as far as the eye could see with only dust clouds from the odd tractor to break the monotony. Finally in the distance we glimpsed the glinting 630 ft high Gateway Arch of St Louis. We crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri and made straight for Ted Drewes - an icon of the old Route 66 which has served frozen custard to roadies for 70 years. It sure was good...
Our stop for the night was 20 minutes away and as it was near 35 C, we were very thankful to find the RV park had a pool. Went to sleep that night with the chorus of a brood of cicadas that have lain dormant in the ground for 17 years and have burrowed out in time to meet us with their deafeningly loud clicks. Their dead bodies carpet the ground, making for a lively and crunchy underfoot experience.
A shorter driving day today, Thursday, and after checking out the small but interesting Route 66 Museum situated in a lovely state park, we headed west across Missouri to Independence.
After finding our RV park we picked up a $1 bus that circuits the town to check out the National Frontier Trails Museum. Independence was the starting point for many of the pioneers that took the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails out west. It is also proudly the home of President Truman and sights abound about his life and work and we had sodas at the beautiful art deco Clinton's Soda Fountain which was where he had his first job.
And for those with an interest... (grandparents again) Arthur cut his first tooth today!