Being the newly self-crowned world national traveler that I now am, I feel confident that I have learned enough handy tips to make your travel more pleasurable or at least tolerable.

I am most serious about this, since we met with some really horrifying things along our way, and frankly you might be better off staying home rather than engaging in some of these freakish experiences. Not everyone is as tough as I am.

So, we left our meadow and headed for the state’s capital, which is Des Moines, pronounces “D-Moyne” if you don’t otherwise know. Now things proceeded quite well as we slipped off onto Interstate 35. We were sucking down the coffee and so we got a chance to view pretty much each and every “rest” area along that great road as we neared the border into Missouri.

Rest areas in the US are stupid if you aren’t familiar. They offer nothing but a bunch of vending machines, and places to do your bodily things. They do not offer the obvious–gas, food or lodging. To do that you must EXIT the freeway and engage in the local traffic.

Anyway, enough said about Iowa. It was and is averagely normal. Enter Missouri.

Now I’ve never before been to Missouri, and so I had no particular thoughts about it. That changed quickly. First, we were assailed by all manner of road signs, most of them painted in the 1940’s and referring to Ma and Pa Kettle’s pies, or Jerry’s Swap and Shop and things of that nature. Most of those no doubt fine establishments are now defunct, and those that aren’t should be.

Garish is the appropriate word. Annoying would be another. Shameful would be another.

And lets talk now about “rest” stops. Missouri has what you call “rest stops” and “modern rest stops”. Modern ones have actual toilets, non-modern ones have no such thing, but if you are a guy, you can face away from traffic and pee against the tree provided.

Of course, reasonable people would know something is wrong when you head for one of the largest cities in MISSOURI and its name is KANSAS CITY. Drunk, drugged, or simply insane, the Missourians who came up with that stealth name from another state were lacking in creative genes.

So things were beginning to look a bit dim for the reputation of Missouri. We decided to cap off our visit with a stop at the local Mickey D’s for some gourmet burger. The Contrarian headed off for the men’s room to deposit yet another offering of filtered coffee in this pass-through state, and so I was left with the dubious task of ordering.

I ordered our “Angus burger with bacon and 2 small fries”. I was met with a smarmy arrogant grin, and “and just what is your definition of SMALL?” So, the only human being I spoke to in all of Missouri was a horse’s ass and then some.

I rate this state a -5. Go around it next time.

Now Kansas was another story. We headed for Topeka, and successfully negotiated around it, made our next connection and headed to Wichita. The terrain was uneventful  not unlike Iowa’s except that cows dominated the landscape. All in all it was delightful.

As we approached Wichita, we thought to call it a day and grab a motel for the night, and look for a meal. Now, we had been working hard at making our proper connections and avoiding the cities themselves quite well. We saw that to make our connection to US400 and US52, we needed to go into the belly of the beast–the connection would take place in the center of the metropolis.

So, rationally, and I am rational, I suggested that we make our connection onto the US’s 400/52 and then exit at the first “food and lodging exit” thereafter. We made the connection to US400 and US52 and then the earth fell away and we entered an enchanted forest wherein no one had ever heard of a motel.

We were no longer on freeways and there was nothing on the horizon. We drove. We drove. We drove. We pulled off in Podunk towns that had nary a gas station let alone a place to lay one’s head.

I had flashbacks of being Mary and finding no room at the inn. I had nowhere to lay my weary head. I was a woman without a country.

Tomorrow we shall learn of more exciting facts you must learn if you are to survive traversing middle AMerika.