The biggest difference that I discovered between my Dad and me on our trip was that I think he wakes up entirely too early, and he thinks I’m a reckless driver. I’m all for getting a head start on the day, but waking up at 5am to be on the road by 6am is a cruel act of punishment. While I admit to driving about ten miles above the speed limit, my Dad was constantly on watch for the police. When we left the Hoosier State for the Land of Lincoln, he was convinced that there were speed traps just ahead.
“The speed limit drops here, it’s a trap. Watch it!”
“Dad, I’m sure we’re fine.”
“I see it all the time, the speed dips and then they catch you when you’re still going over. Look there’s a cop car on the shoulder.”
“That’s an abandoned car.”
My Mom back in Delaware, would call and ask if we were getting into squabbles – which we weren’t. My Dad and my temperament are very much alike. We are both high strung 15% of the time, but fairly easygoing the remaining 85%. If you figure we both sleep 33% of the time (or maybe 20% for my Dad), and being high strung is proportional to the amount of sleep we get, I was a nervous Redbull drinking mess with a sleep deficit, and my Dad was calm and relaxed.
We left Indiana and headed into Illinois. The environment was very similar to the east coast – houses and pine trees lined alongside an open highway. We joked that we could still be in Delaware. We arrived in St. Louis, Missouri – the “Gateway to the West” around 10am. We made a pit stop at the Gateway Arch and I had a photo-op at the Lewis & Clark Memorial.
Driving deeper into Missouri, and crossing the Mississippi River, you start to realize that the terrain starts to slightly change. You also realize that the blue states you passed start to blend purple, then bright red for conservative. Being that it was an election week, the number of pro-Obama sings began to dwindle as we moved further across the Mississippi.
Interestingly enough the left side of I-44 driving west were filled with religious scripture quotes in white text on a black billboard, while on the right side of the highway were adult bookstores and strip clubs. I wonder what outgoing Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has to say about that.
My favorite billboard was nonpartisan and located in Springfield, Missouri, home of The Simpsons:
The sun began to set as we entered Oklahoma, and it was pitch black by the time we arrived in Oklahoma City. The air was still warm, in the high 70s when we arrived. A stark difference from the 50 degree weather we had woken up to in Indianapolis. Since we had been in the car all day, we decided to see what Oklahoma City had to offer. We walked along the riverfront and, looking for something to eat, my Dad suggested Coyote Ugly. While we didn’t eat any wings, we did see plenty of breasts (covered of course – I am with my Dad after all.)
Men with cowboy hats sat at the bar as young buxom bartenders danced and lip-synched to Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie.” We had a few beers and watched the show, as the emcee bartender talked dirty into the microphone and dragged the cowboys’ girlfriends up on the bar to do body shots off them.
If we went in search of the Wild West, this was the wildest it was going to get. We decided to finish our beers and leave before my Dad was asked to do a shot of tequila off one of the Coyote girl’s navels. “Y’all leaving already,” said the emcee sadly, “They’re smart – they know it’s ’bout to get crazy ’cause the night’s just started!”
When you’re on the road with your Dad, it’s best to remain wholesome characters in a Modern Family episode, and leave the tequila shots, half naked girls, and dirty talk to an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.