Morning in Amarillo is just like life in any other town that sits along the interstate. You wake up, toss your bags in the car, gas up the car and head for the on ramp.
Day 4 and 5: Amarillo, TX, St. Louis, MO and home sweet home
We’d hoped to make it all the way to St. Louis today, but under the best conditions that’s a run of over 12 hours factoring in stops for lunch and gas. So as we set out at 10 a.m., we weren’t sure how far we’d get.
As it turns out – farther than we thought. When you just want to sleep in your own bed and the road has run out of interesting, new things to show you… you just keep going. So through the rest of Texas’ panhandle, across Oklahoma’s flat, featureless waistline and slightly more hilly Missouri, we soldiered on.
Midway along the turnpike in Oklahoma, we heard loud rattling from the backseat. It seemed the heavy, metal pieces I’d stacked back there were bumping into each other whenever we hit a bump. As Melissa leaned into the backseat to look for the source of the sound, I aimed for the bumps so she could locate the source.
“Sounds like it’s coming from the trunk,” she shook her head.
“Impossible, there’s only one press back there… and nothing for it to bump against.”
I pulled over to examine the pieces in the presses in the back seat, and we scratched our heads. A semi whizzed by, blasting us with a rush of hot, Oklahoma air.
“Maybe it’s the top?” I wondered aloud, and started folding it back into it’s storage space above the trunk.
“What’s this?” Melis pointed to the boot area. Where there was supposed to be a black, rubber cap on top of the rear wheel strut, it had been ejected off and instead we were looking at a 3-inch steel rod sticking straight up. I took a few steps down the grassy embankment and looked back at the car. The weight of the presses was finally too much for the rear shock absorbers – there was now just an inch or so of room between the wheel and the wheel well.
Being Sunday and not knowing the area, we decided to take our chances looking like hip hop low riders and kept driving, albeit with more care as to bumps in the road. It was a good call – the car ran just fine, though more noisy and bouncy than normal.
That night we pulled into St. Louis for a late night visit with college buddy Andrew. He’d printed up signs – complete with directional arrows – and posted them on lamp posts and street signs, and leading all the way up to his apartment. It was hysterical, and extremely welcomed for a tired pair who’d been on the road around least fourteen hours by that point.
Andrew has his place outfitted as both his home and office, with the smaller, second bedroom serving as painting studio and computer workstation. As we walked around, enjoying his etchings and metal sculptures, he served us warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. Sitting there in the air conditioned oasis, it was hard to leave, but with Melissa needing to head back to work and home only five or six hours away… we said our goodbyes and headed out into the hot St. Louis night.
We finally reached the city limits of Chicago at about 7 the next morning, just in time for traffic jams on the south side. Crawling into bed with about ten hours of sleep ahead of us felt fantastic, and we awoke feeling like the whole trip had been one long dream.
It would’ve been nice to spend more time in some of these neat places, but the trip absolutely served its purpose – we got the letterpresses home, enjoyed being together more than we have in months, and are happy to spend a nice long time at home, where we belong for now.