Monday, January 22, 2007

Houston-Chicago Trip - Day Five

The temptation to stay in bed was strong this morning. Reluctantly I got up and got on the road by 7:30. I-55 parallels the Mississippi River for 100 miles or so, but there is a two lane road, Hwy 61, that runs along the river and goes through several small river towns. It would have been nice to drive along the river the whole way, but I couldn't afford the time. I compromised by cutting over to the river on Hwy 140 and driving 61 for 15 miles or so. The levee is visible from the highway, but there's no way to drive to the top and see the river. The rest of the sights along the river in this area weren't particularly inspiring.

At 8:45 I crossed the Mississippi on I-57 into Missouri. The sky was cloudy, the landscape bleak, and now it started to get colder. Made a rest stop at the Missouri welcome station at 9:30. At 10:15 crossed the border into Illinois. Chicago is only 387 miles! I am traveling the state from the extreme southern end to the northern. In a short time I began to see snow on the ground, and by the time I was half way across the state, the temperature was 32 degrees and the ground was covered with snow.

I listened to a Bailey White tape which I enjoyed very much. I do believe she is one of the best writers I know of. In short stories she reads herself about living with her mother in a small, rural Georgia town, she packs in so much imagery, fun and irony. She is truly a master story writer and teller.

I couldn't bear the thought of eating fast food again, so in Effingham, I had beans and greens for lunch at Cracker Barrel. It's served with cornbread, relish and a big onion slice. Both the pinto beans and turnip greens are cooked with ham. I ate the onion with the beans, but couldn't find an appealing way to use the relish. I stopped at a local WalMart to get Daniel a Thomas the Train.

The drive through Illinois was proving to be monotonous so I listened to the full length audio book I brought along, Country Matters by Michael Korda. It's written by a New York literary editor who with his wife buys an old farm house and 20 acres in Dutchess County. So far it's been very entertaining.

I was concerned that I might run into the Chicago rush hour traffic, but I took I-80 west to I-55 and avoided any stop and go. I got to Chas and Lisa's at 5:30.

Daniel was glad to see me. He's talking a blue streak now. He loves to get you involved with what he's doing. And he loves to dance. Lisa put on a DVD called Ralph's World and Daniel danced up a storm, asking everyone to dance with him. Brandon was asleep when I got here, but soon woke up. He has gotten big and is very animated. He smiles and makes all sorts of sounds and moves around a lot. He's either very good or if there's something he wants, he lets you know in no uncertain terms. They are both very cute grandchildren.

Chas got home at around 6:45 after his normal hour and 20 minute commute. He's talking about moving closer to town and using a different train to shorten his commute to 45 minutes. Still long but much more tolerable than what he has at present.

Lisa fixed pizza and a salad for dinner and topped it off with apple crisp for desert. Everything was very good. After dinner Brandon was fed and both boys put to bed. By then everyone else was ready for bed as well.

Chas was able to take tomorrow off so we'll be able to spend the day together.

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