June 21: Sometimes you just have to stop and get things done

Happy first full day of summer! It sure still feels like it here. It got close to 100dF again, and it’s humid. It’s supposed to be stormy tomorrow as a cold front goes through, but “cold” is a seriously relative term. It might be closer to 90 than 100 tomorrow. Maybe.

Today was Merlin’s First Oil Change [g]. He hit 5000 miles yesterday, and while I tried to find a place to have it done after I left Jim’s house, I was out of luck. This morning I also had to do laundry. This is the first time I’ve hit the combo of need to do laundry/motel has no laundry facilities for guests, so I found a laundromat nearby and sat and read while my clothes got clean. Then I found a local equivalent of a Jiffy Lube, only to find out that they didn’t have any more oil (really!). They directed me to a Meineke, who said they couldn’t get me in until 1:30 pm (it was just before noon). So I went and got lunch, and by the time I got back, they were ready to take him in. An hour sooner than they’d predicted.

In the meantime, I ate my Subway sandwich in their waiting room, and chatted with the desk clerk and another customer, who asked me question after question about my trip and what I was doing. The upshot was that I ended up handing out a couple of my writerly business cards.

I’ve probably handed out at least thirty business cards since I left home. I strike up conversations with people, they’re curious, and well… The weird thing is, I think of myself as an extreme introvert, but I really take after my father about striking up conversations with strangers. Individual strangers, that is, and I couldn’t do more than one or two per day, but well… Merlin’s a great ice-breaker, too. He generates way more interest than I ever thought he would. It’s weird. But fun.

Anyway, after Merlin was done, I headed north, on I-55 for the first 20 miles or so, then on a highway (Illinois Route 4) that turned out to trace old Route 66. Some of the signs for it were kind of cool.

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I *love* this one.
I *love* this one.

And I found another elegant courthouse with a really tall tower.

The courthouse in Carlinville, Illinois.  The town had a central square, but the courthouse wasn't there, just along the main drag.
The courthouse in Carlinville, Illinois. The town had a central square, but the courthouse wasn’t there, just along the main drag.

But most of the route, outside of a lot of charming small towns, was between what looked like hedges of corn [g]. Flatter than flat, and that kind of wide-open sky that makes me feel like some giant is going to step on me like a bug, just like in Kansas.

Corn hedges [g].
Corn hedges [g].
Anyway, tonight I’m in Springfield, the capital of Illinois, and Abraham Lincoln’s hometown. Tomorrow I’m going to visit his presidential museum and library, and his house, and maybe even his tomb.

Then it’s on east to Indianapolis in a day or two, where I’m going to stop and see another listee, Kevin Kennedy. After that, I’m going down to Bloomington, Indiana, and revisit where I went to graduate school. I haven’t been back there since I graduated in 1991.