Category Archives: visiting friends

July 27: Another literary hero and two months on the road as of today

Today I drove more winding backroads, crossing into New York state, until I reached a bridge over the Hudson River. My photos of it aren’t very good, but I tried…

Another state.  I think this is #19? 20?
Another state. I think this is #19? 20?
Over the Hudson River.
Over the Hudson River.
A view of the Hudson from the other side.
A view of the Hudson from the other side.

Then I wound down the eastern side of the river until I got tangled in some serious traffic, er, made it to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving built his house, and set the most famous of his short stories.

No, that so-ridiculous-it’s-fun (at least for the first couple of seasons) TV show of the same name isn’t filmed here. It’s actually filmed in South Carolina, but it is set here. And apparently there’s been a small Twilight-esque run on this place in the last few years because of it. Not to the extent that Forks, Washington, has been taken over, but enough that the lady who sold me my ticket to visit the house looked like she wanted to roll her eyes at me when I commented on it.

Irving was the first person in the United States to make his living writing fiction. He wrote a lot of other things, too, history and satire and so forth, but it was his fiction that made his name. His house was the second most visited home in the 19th century, after Mount Vernon.

It’s a pretty cottage (Irving’s word), described by our guide as a pastiche of many architectural styles, from Dutch to Spanish. The front door is all but encased in wisteria, ivy, and bad hair day (trumpet) vine, and it took an act of will for me to get through it [wry g]. I did remember that from my first visit here, in April, 1981, with my mother while I was visiting my parents during the year and a half they lived in Connecticut.

According to the plaque, this sycamore tree on the Sunnyside property was alive during the Revolutionary War.
According to the plaque, this sycamore tree on the Sunnyside property was alive during the Revolutionary War.
The front of Sunnyside, almost smothered with wisteria on the left and trumpet vine on the right.
The front of Sunnyside, almost smothered with wisteria on the left and trumpet vine on the right.
The back of Sunnyside, with the docent who took us through.
The back of Sunnyside, with the docent who took us through.
Believe it or not, this is Sunnyside's ice house.
Believe it or not, this is Sunnyside’s ice house.

It was fun to see the house again, though. It stayed in the Irving family (Washington Irving was a bachelor, and he left the house to his nieces) until the 1940s, over a hundred years after it was built, and it was purchased not long after that by the Rockefellers and preserved as a historic site, so it’s in much the same condition (and filled with much of the furniture) it was in when Irving died.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, as I always do this sort of thing. The last time I was here it snowed that night and knocked the power out at my parents’ house. Too bad we couldn’t split the difference between that visit and this one. The house itself isn’t air-conditioned. Thank goodness for thick stone walls. It could have been much worse inside than it was.

After I left Sunnyside, I headed for Danbury, Connecticut, and listee Irene, who offered me a bed for a couple of nights. Her parents hosted the listee curry party at Denvention in 2008, which was great fun, and we’ve corresponded off and on ever since. She has a nice place nestled on a hillside, and I hope she’s having as nice a time hosting me as I have being her guest.

Tomorrow I shall explore around Danbury (Irene has to work), and then on Friday I am headed for the Connecticut coast and Mystic Seaport. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see.

July 25: Back to the country, and a “Henry Ford Museum lightbulb machine moment”

I took Loralee to the Baltimore airport this morning. I have to say that a) I’m going to miss her, but I’m seriously glad to be out of that motel, and b) it’s so good to be out of the city!

I drove around Baltimore on its beltway, then headed northeast on the same highway Katrina and Teri and I took to get to Longwood the other day. I turned off before I passed it, though, and headed up into Pennsylvania.

Is it just me or does this look like Kansas?  Along the road in Pennsylvania.
Is it just me or does this look like Kansas? Along the road in Pennsylvania.

I’m generally headed for New England now, but while I was looking at the map last night, I noticed a place on the map marked Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Curious about why a furnace would be historical [g], I headed in that direction. As it turned out, Hopewell Furnace was what I think of as a Henry Ford Museum lightbulb machine.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Sometimes you (or I, at any rate) take things for granted, without thinking about how they’ve come to be, until you see something that jolts you and makes you realize that, no, these things do not spring full blown from the head of Zeus. My primary example is the lightbulb machine in the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, which I saw on my last Long Trip 17 years ago. Now tell me. Have you ever thought about how light bulbs are manufactured? I didn’t think so.

Well, yesterday I learned how cast iron was made back in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was something I’d never considered before. It was made by hand, by skilled craftsmen, each one supported by an infrastructure and a cadre of workers, then the results were hauled off by horse and wagon to the cities where they were sold. I had no idea that iron was originally smelted using charcoal, and that places like Hopewell Furnace went through hundreds of cords of wood every year.

Butterflies on purple coneflowers at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Butterflies on purple coneflowers at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Stoves cast at Hopewell Furnace in the 1800s.
Stoves cast at Hopewell Furnace in the 1800s.
Part of the CCC-restored (of course) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.  The house is the home of the owner of the furnace.
Part of the CCC-restored (of course) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. The house is the home of the owner of the furnace.
A charcoal pit, where so much wood was burned so iron could be smelted.
A charcoal pit, where so much wood was burned so iron could be smelted.
Looking back towards the cooling sheds, where the charcoal was cooled before being used in the furnace.
Looking back towards the cooling sheds, where the charcoal was cooled before being used in the furnace.

Hopewell provided iron for cannons at Yorktown and in the Civil War, as well as cookstoves that were prized for decades, and many kinds of smaller pieces.

Anyway, the site was fascinating, although the heat and humidity made walking around the actual reconstructed town problematic, of course. The visitor center had a terrific little movie about the place, too.

A very strange sign along the roadside in Pennsylvania.
A very strange sign along the roadside in Pennsylvania.
I absolutely love the old stone houses in this part of the world.
I absolutely love the old stone houses in this part of the world.

After I left Hopewell Furnace, I headed towards somewhere I’d stayed at on my last Long Trip, a hostel in a state park about an hour northwest of Philadelphia. It’s in an old stone house that was the landowner’s before he gave the land to the state, and it’s a peaceful, quiet spot, which I much appreciated.

With the proprietor’s help, I also found a laundromat, so I’m set for clean clothes again for a while. And I managed to keep from getting drowned when the skies opened again, too.

July 23: Nibbled to death by ducks

This was above the entrance at Union Station.  I agree, wholeheartedly.
This was above the entrance at Union Station. I agree, wholeheartedly.

Today was just one of those days. I suppose it had to happen sometime, but honestly.

We had planned to catch the MARC train to Baltimore to go to the National Aquarium today, but when we arrived at Union Station, it was to find that we had just missed the train, literally, and that the weekend schedule had so few trains that there was no way to go there, have enough time to actually see the aquarium, and get back in the same day. And, yes, I had attempted, unsuccessfully, to check the weekend schedule online that morning.

So, Plan B. Which somehow found us riding Metro back to the Smithsonian station, then getting on the circulator bus (that’s supposed to be part of the weekly Metro Passes we both bought when we first got here on Wednesday, but our passes kept beeping that they weren’t working – the drivers just waved us on, but still) that goes round the National Mall, and ending up back in Union Station to eat lunch. Don’t ask.

Then we decided to go see monuments (which we had planned to do on Sunday). Which should have been fine – we saw the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, which is a lovely statue, but doesn’t actually look like Mr. King, IMHO, then we made the monumental (sorry) mistake of getting off the circulator bus to see the Lincoln Memorial. It would have been fine if a) the circulator bus, which was supposed to run every 10-15 minutes, still hadn’t shown up after over an hour, and b) the bus stop hadn’t been in in the blazing sun with nowhere to sit down in the 100+dF heat index. We finally abandoned hope when I started feeling sick from the heat and managed to get over to a refreshment stand to buy cold water (yes, we’d been drinking as much water as we could carry, but we’d run out) and sit in the shade for a bit, before Loralee had the absolutely brilliant idea to hire a pedicab (yes, the pedicabs were out in this horrible weather) to take us to the nearest Metro station.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial.  It's *huge.*
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. It’s *huge.*
Looking across the Tidal Basin from the King Memorial, with lots of zoom.  That's the Jefferson Memorial.
Looking across the Tidal Basin from the King Memorial, with lots of zoom. That’s the Jefferson Memorial.
I figured I'd cap what seemed to be turning into a Lincoln pilgrimage.  Boy, did that turn out to be a mistake.  I'm glad I saw him again, though.
I figured I’d cap what seemed to be turning into a Lincoln pilgrimage. Boy, did that turn out to be a mistake. I’m glad I saw him again, though.
And another view of the Washington Monument, this time from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
And another view of the Washington Monument, this time from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The pedicab driver was a very nice young man in blond dreadlocks with the most amazing leg muscles I’ve ever seen on a human being. At any rate, he hauled us to a Metro station and we got on it and came back to the air-conditioned motel and drank a couple of gallons of ice water each, I think.

Oh, and I got us lost again coming home from the restaurant for supper. I swear, I’ve gotten lost at least once a day since I picked Loralee up from the airport, and the only driving I’ve been doing is to get us back and forth to the Metro station and to eat. Sigh.

The sky from my motel room tonight.  It was quite something.
The sky from my motel room tonight. It was quite something.

July 21: All natural history, all the time

The inside of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station.  I just love the ceiling in there.
The inside of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station. I just love the ceiling in there.

Getting around today was much easier than yesterday, with one minor exception late this afternoon (yesterday was something of a fiasco directions-wise, but at least now I know where I’m going). We got up and onto the Metro, and took it down to L’Enfant Plaza, where we caught the circulator bus. The circulator bus goes around and around the National Mall and the Tidal Basin and up to Union Station. Unlimited rides are included in our seven-day Metro passes, which I’m really glad we bought yesterday.

We rode the bus around by Union Station and on to the National Museum of Natural History.

I’d been there before once, briefly, on my first Long Trip, but basically just to poke my head in to see the Hope Diamond late one afternoon. This time we spent the whole day there. Gemstones were just the beginning. We also saw dinosaurs, and animal skeletons (which were much more interesting than you’d think – the birds in particular just fascinated me), and the kinds of displays they called the Dead Zoo in Dublin when I was there in 1998 [g]. Lots and lots of really well constructed taxidermy, in other words.

The Washington Monument looking like it's coming out of the tower of the Smithsonian Castle [g].
The Washington Monument looking like it’s coming out of the tower of the Smithsonian Castle [g].
Harry the elephant in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum.
Harry the elephant in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum.
A ginormous aquamarine in the gemstone section of the Natural History Museum.
A ginormous aquamarine in the gemstone section of the Natural History Museum.
One of the heads from Easter Island.  I've always wanted to see them in situ, but I suspect this is as close as I will get.  It was right across the way from a totem pole from Washington state.
One of the heads from Easter Island. I’ve always wanted to see them in situ, but I suspect this is as close as I will get. It was right across the way from a totem pole from Washington state.
I loved, loved, loved the bone room, which was really weird.  This is a swift, which is worth more than its weight in gold as a species for how many mosquitoes it eats.
I loved, loved, loved the bone room, which was really weird. This is a swift, which is worth more than its weight in gold as a species for how many mosquitoes it eats.
The skeleton of a penguin.  I had no idea they had such long necks.
The skeleton of a penguin. I had no idea they had such long necks.
A triceratops from the abbreviated dinosaur display (they're redoing the dinosaur room and it won't be open again till next year).
A triceratops from the abbreviated dinosaur display (they’re redoing the dinosaur room and it won’t be open again till next year).
 I *love* the expression on the leopard's face.
I *love* the expression on the leopard’s face.
More dead zoo, this time the Australian section.
More dead zoo, this time the Australian section.
One of the few glimpses I got of the White House.  I sure hope Trump doesn't end up living there.
One of the few glimpses I got of the White House. I sure hope Trump doesn’t end up living there.

After we exhausted ourselves (it’s amazing how much walking through a museum – especially a huge crowded one – can tire you out), we got back on the bus, which this time took us around by the Tidal Basin on our way back to the Metro station.

Then the Metro to our station, and back to the motel.

All in all, a really good day. Tomorrow morning we have tickets to an exhibit about the ancient Greeks at the National Geographic Museum, then we’ll probably spend the rest of the day at the American History Museum.

I could literally spend months here and not get bored. But I’d have to do something better about where to sleep.

July 18-20: Listees, logistics, picking up Loralee, and Washington, DC

Evidently they've been doing some work on the U.S. Capitol building.  The scaffolding gradually disappeared over the five days of our visit.
Evidently they’ve been doing some work on the U.S. Capitol building. The scaffolding gradually disappeared over the five days of our visit.

The 18th and the 19th, with only a couple of exceptions, were mostly logistics, and I have no photos from those days, sorry [g]. The first exception was the Bujold listee dinner, which was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Karen, Nicholas, and Kenton, and the six of us (me, Katrina, and Teri, too) ate at an Indian restaurant. Given that this was only the second time I’d ever eaten Indian food in my life (the first time was at a James Bryant curry party at the Denver WorldCon in 2008), and the first time I’d ever ordered Indian food in a restaurant, which basically meant I was doing the equivalent of closing my eyes and poking a finger at the menu, then asking please no cilantro or coriander (same thing, different names), it was quite amazing how good my meal was. I had a very herby tomato soup, then a stew based on chickpeas that tasted basically like a really great beef stew. With the stew came what I can only label as a sopapilla (sans honey) on steroids. It covered three quarters of the plate, puffed up a good six inches, and when I tore it open a huge cloud of steam emerged. But it was all delicious. Thank you so much, Nicholas, for pulling this all together, and for paying for my meal, and to everyone else for coming. I had a marvelous time.

The next morning I said good-bye to Katrina and Teri, packed up, and headed out to run a few errands, then south to DC to the motel where Loralee and I had reservations. It’s an – interesting, yes, that’s the word – motel just over the line into Maryland from DC, and its main attraction is that it’s close to a metro station. But it’ll do. I kicked back until about three, then drove back up to the Baltimore airport to pick Loralee up.

It’s good to see her again (we live just a few miles from each other). She and I have been friends for almost a quarter century (hard to believe that!), and I’ve been looking forward to her trip here to spend time with me in DC since before I hit the road almost two months ago (you’ll note I’m not calling it Washington – it’s too confusing in my backbrain because to me Washington is on the other side of the country – so DC it is).

We made it back down to the motel (without traffic a half-hour drive – during rush hour, more like an hour and a half), went out to dinner, got her registered at the motel, and crashed.

This morning, we made something of an adventure of finding the Metro station (why not a single map in our possession marked the Metro stations I do not know), but we did, thanks to an incredibly nice lady we met in the drug store where we stopped to ask directions, who had us follow her car to it. I don’t think we’d ever have found it otherwise. Then, when we were trying to figure out the electronic ticket kiosk, a gentleman who works there helped us poor, befuddled tourists buy our pass. People have been much, much nicer here than I had been led to believe.

And at last we were on our way to the National Mall!

We ended up spending most of the day in the Museum of the American Indian, which was fascinating. That one’s been on my list since I first heard about it. It didn’t exist the last time I was here. I learned a lot about both North and South American Indians, as well as Native Hawaiians, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also got to eat frybread with my lunch [g].

The wonderfully fluid outside of the Museum of the American Indian.
The wonderfully fluid outside of the Museum of the American Indian.
What Loralee described as a rather salacious sculpture inside of the Museum of the American Indian.
What Loralee described as a rather salacious-looking sculpture inside of the Museum of the American Indian.
One of the many gorgeous textile pieces.
One of the many gorgeous textile pieces.
Believe it or not, this is a violin.  Cool, huh?
Believe it or not, this is a violin. Cool, huh?
This is a 500-1000 year old Inka (that's how it was spelled in the museum, not Inca) cloak made out of *macaw* feathers.
This is a 500-1000 year old Inka (that’s how it was spelled in the museum, not Inca) cloak made out of *macaw* feathers.

Then, for something completely different, we ducked into the Air and Space Museum, which was extremely crowded, so we didn’t stay long.

The original USS Enterprise model, from TOS show.
The original USS Enterprise model, from TOS show.
This life-sized (so to speak) Yoda was in the gift shop at the Air and Space Museum.  He can be yours for the low, low price of $1000,
This life-sized (so to speak) Yoda was in the gift shop at the Air and Space Museum. He can be yours for the low, low price of $1000,

Loralee moves a bit more slowly than Katrina and Teri (she’s 15 years older than I am and had back surgery last year), and I have to say that was not a bad thing. We both have a few must-sees on our lists, and if we get to see most of them I’ll be happy. I’m just so glad she’s here that that’s more than enough, frankly.

July 4-7: Boom, crash, and friends

Three days later…

What Mary calls "the green wall," on my way across from Charlotte to Fayetteville.
What Mary calls “the green wall,” on my way across from Charlotte to Fayetteville.
Another crape myrtle, this one across the street from a chicken fast food place called Bojangles, where I ate lunch on the way to Morgan's.
Another crape myrtle, this one across the street from a chicken fast food place called Bojangles, where I ate lunch on the way to Morgan’s.

Independence Day was fun. I made it to Fayetteville by mid-afternoon, and after a bit of confusion arrived at Morgan and Kaz’s house. It’s a cute little house, full of three very large dogs (mostly malamute-husky mix, and one has a bit of lab in him, too). Morgan had just been given a sewing machine as a gift, sans manual, and when she pulled it out of its box, it was a vintage Singer just like mine only I think a few years older. So we went to JoAnn’s, which was open on the holiday, bought some thread and a remnant to practice on, and got absolutely drenched running back to the car in a downpour.

But at least she now knows how to thread her sewing machine, wind the bobbin, and sew with it. My good deed for the day [g].

Then the thunder and the lightning started, and we added fireworks of our own (well, they did), fountains and sparklers and all that fun stuff. The neighbors pitched in with their own supply, too. It was fun.

The day before yesterday I headed north towards my friend Mary’s home, up near the Virginia border about 150 miles away. Finding her house was a bit of an adventure, too, but I did it, even if I had to pass way too much kudzu to do it.

Mary lives with some friends, in a sort of mother-in-law apartment, way out in the country. It was good to see her because the last time I saw her was in 2011 when we went to the Reno WorldCon together. We pretty much chatted non-stop the whole time I was there, but the best part (aside from meeting her slighly psycho cat Miles – I told her she was tempting fate to name him after Miles Vorkosigan!) was yesterday when we took a drive to some local landmarks.

First we went to Pilot Knob, which you can see really well from a viewpoint on the highway, and which you can also drive up, almost to the top. The views are pretty spectacular, with the haze from the humidity blurring the horizon again.

Pilot KNob, North Carolina.
Pilot Knob, North Carolina, with daylilies in the foreground.
A zoomed Pilot Knob.
A zoomed Pilot Knob.
A view from the lookout on top (well not on the knob but just below it) of Pilot Knob.
A view from the lookout on top (well not on the knob but just below it) of Pilot Knob.
A very blurry horizon from Pilot Knob.
A very blurry horizon from Pilot Knob.

Then we drove around to Hanging Rock, but just about the time we got there the skies opened up again, so I never actually got to see the hanging rock itself. But we did go to a nice place for lunch. And then she showed me – or tried to show me – the house she used to live in with her husband before he died. But the driveway (which was basically more pothole than road, and really, really steep and slick because of the rain) was gated shut halfway up. I was so glad there was somewhere to turn around!

We also looked at a few of my photos [g].

This morning I headed out again, across the border into Virginia.  I made a couple of stops, one at a state park where I caught my journal up and ate a picnic lunch, and again at the site of an old fort.

Occoneechee State Park along a reservoir in Virginia, where I ate a picnic lunch.
Occoneechee State Park along a reservoir in Virginia, where I ate a picnic lunch.
This is exactly what almost all of U.S. 58 across southern Virginia looked like. It was like a very mild roller coaster.
This is exactly what almost all of U.S. 58 across southern Virginia looked like. It was like a very mild roller coaster.
Fort Christanna, Virginia, state historical site, which dates from before the American Revolution.
Fort Christanna, Virginia, state historical site, which dates from before the American Revolution.
Black-eyed susans along the gravel road to Fort Christanna.
Black-eyed susans along the gravel road to Fort Christanna.

I’m aiming towards the Atlantic coast. I’m actually headed towards Williamsburg, where I haven’t been since 1991. I can’t wait.

July 4-5: Visiting, visiting, visiting [g]

So.  I made it to see Morgan and Kaz in Fayetteville, North Carolina, yesterday, where we had a good visit and shot off fireworks, and today I drove from there to Germanton, North Carolina, where I’m staying with my friend Mary (the Bujold listees know her as CatMtn).

Anyway, I suspect blog posts will be sparse on the ground until I leave here.  I’m not sure exactly how long I’ll be here yet.  But we will resume our regularly scheduled blog posts soon, I promise!

June 20: The Arch! But no botanical garden, alas. And also a good friend.

It was 90dF when I climbed into Merlin at 10 am just west of St. Louis, and the humidity was oppressive. And by oppressive I mean I felt like I had a coating of boiling lead all over my body, weighing me down [wry g]. This kind of weather is why I don’t visit my mother in Texas between Easter and Halloween.

But I made the best of it. I drove into downtown St. Louis, and wound up doing a sort of “Big Ben Parliament” thing (the reference is to the movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation, BTW) trying to find it. I kept seeing it, but trying to get close enough to it to actually walk up to it was – challenging. I never did get directly under it, even walking, because they’ve got the ground underneath it torn up while they redo the Museum of Westward Expansion, which is underground there and won’t be open again until 2017. But, after accidentally crossing over into Illinois and back again, I did manage to get close and find a parking place right next to the Old Courthouse, which is right across the street from the park leading to the Arch.

It’s every bit as impressive as I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be copper-colored, but I think that’s because the only other time I’ve ever seen it was from Amtrak’s Texas Eagle on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, right at sunset (which was admittedly pretty cool), years and years ago. It’s not coppery, it’s silver-colored. It shimmers. And it looks like a tornado would blow it right over. I kept thinking, where are the guywires?

The Arch from the steps of the Old Courthouse.
The Arch from the steps of the Old Courthouse.
As close as I could get to the Arch without going up in it (not a chance -- I saw the thing you ride up in -- they had a mockup where they sold the tickets -- it made the Gemini capsule back in Kansas look ginormous.
As close as I could get to the Arch without going up in it (not a chance — I saw the thing you ride up in — they had a mockup where they sold the tickets — it made the Gemini capsule back in Kansas look ginormous).

The Old Courthouse across the street reminds me of the historic buildings in Boston and Philadelphia, dwarfed by the skyscrapers that surround them. This is where Dred Scott and his wife first sued for their freedom from slavery, and it was determined that they were not U.S. citizens, and so would not be freed.

One of the exhibits in the Old Courhouse, about the Oregon Trail.
One of the exhibits in the Old Courhouse, about the Oregon Trail.
Remnants of one of the earliest buildings in St. Louis, a fur trader's warehouse.
Remnants of one of the earliest buildings in St. Louis, a fur trader’s warehouse.
An interesting reflection of the Old Courthouse in one of the nearby skyscrapers.  The statue is of Dred Scott and his wife.
An interesting reflection of the Old Courthouse in one of the nearby skyscrapers. The statue is of Dred Scott and his wife.

There’s a nice museum inside the courthouse, mostly temporary, I gather, while the other museum is closed. It was interesting, but nothing I wasn’t already familiar with. The exhibits were well done, though.

After I staggered back to Merlin through the heat, I knew the Missouri Botanic Gardens were a no-go. After barely a block I was just miserable. So I decided to head on out of St. Louis. I was really disappointed about that. I probably would have stuck around if I’d known the weather would have cooled off in a day or two, but it’s supposed to be in the 90s the rest of this week, alas.

I crossed the Mississippi into Illinois on a bridge that looks like what the 21st Street bridge in Tacoma wants to be when it grows up, and saw a sign for the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Hoping for an air-conditioned visitor center, I took the offramp only to discover it’s closed on Mondays. But I did take a brief look around, and then called my Bujold listee friend Jim Parish, who lives in a small college town just northeast of St. Louis.

One of the mounds at Cahokia, which is the largest pre-Columbian ruin north of Mexico.  Including Mesa Verde, apparently.
One of the mounds at Cahokia, which is the largest pre-Columbian ruin north of Mexico. Including Mesa Verde, apparently.

I found his house just fine, and we went out to lunch. A long, lovely lunch, where we talked about everything from Bujold to family to history. I’m not really sure there was a subject we didn’t cover [g]. Jim’s the first person I’ve stopped to see on this trip, and it was so nice to see a friendly familiar face and talk with someone I’ve known (albeit mostly online) for years.

I didn’t leave until after 3:30, and I stopped at the local AAA office for my next round of maps and guidebooks (I ran out after Missouri), then headed out of town looking for a place to stay. Oh, and for a place to get Merlin’s oil changed for the first time.

I saw this while I was looking for a motel tonight.  I've never seen a water tower painted to look like a bottle of ketchup before...
I saw this while I was looking for a motel tonight. I’ve never seen a water tower painted to look like a bottle of ketchup before…

I found the former, but not the latter, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow. Merlin now officially has 5000 miles on him. I’ve driven a bit over 4000 miles since I left home.

I then dithered about whether to go southeast, to Paducah, Kentucky, home of a nationally-recognized quilt museum, or northeast to Springfield, Illinois, where there’s a bunch of interesting Lincoln stuff. I could double back and do both, but for now I’m headed to Springfield tomorrow. There’s supposed to be some storms coming through tonight. I’m glad I’m indoors.