Sunday, 7 August 2011

Fort Leonard Wood to Roanoke

The first stop on my road trip was Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and I literally forgot the camera when I reconnected with friends.  Thirty-six hours of girl talk, cosmos, and movie watching ensued.  There was, unfortunately, no sightseeing involved.

The movie on the left was my pick, the movie on the right was my friend's pick.  I appear to be the more sophisticated (albeit morbid) film critic.

When I left Missouri, I was on a mission.  It was raining and I was determined to make it the 13 hours, 40 minutes and 818 miles from Fort Leonard Wood to Roanoke in one straight shot because I didn't want to pay for lodging.

These grand ambitions happen every road trip...

Last July, I attempted to drive 780 miles from Windsor, California to Tacoma, Washington after partaking in the Sonoma wine region.

At 2 a.m. I stopped to take a 20 minute nap at a rest area in northern Oregon.

The rest stop was reminiscent of a horror film.  Missing person posters plastered the walls and the florescent lights above the stalls flickered ominously.  The area was surrounded by miles of woods.

I locked my car and reclined the seat.  But I couldn't fall asleep.  I was haunted by the image of a deranged man taking a baseball bat to my window, yanking me out by the hair, beheading me behind the restrooms and throwing my body down a ravine.

A boyfriend convinced me to leave immediately and stop at a Howard Johnson.

...After that road trip, I may know how to quit.  Regardless, I was a woman on a mission.

I left Fort Leonard Wood at 9 a.m. and made a beeline for Saint Louis, Missouri. I caught a glimpse of The Gateway Arch before I left The Show Me State and slipped over the border into Illinois.  The Gateway Arch was completed in 1965 and honors the westward expansion of the United States.  At 630 feet, it is the tallest man-made structure in America.

Illinois (The Praire State) and Indiana (The Hoosier State) were next, and little more than farm fields and expanses of nothingness.  According to The CIA World Factbook, America had an urban population (percentage of citizens that reside in cities and suburbs) of 82% as of 2010.  (In contrast, the average world urban population is 50.5%.)  However, only 17% of land in America is urban land.  This means that 83% of America is virtually uninhabited.  As a City Girl, it's easy to forget how rural most of America is.

These three pictures and video basically some up my experience driving through Middle America.

I made it to Kentucky (The Bluegrass State) around dinner time, but didn't stop in Louisville or Lexington.  From the highway they appear fantastic.  I'll have to go back there to watch horse racing.

West Virginia was next.  It was dark by this time and The Mountain State was awash in winding highways and precipitous elevation drops.  I didn't encounter any rest stops or (nearly any) signs of civilization (but I did hit three toll booths). I also noted that the music selections in West Virginia were limited to country, Christian rock, conservative talk radio...Delilah, and static.  Not cool.

I entered Virginia (The Old Dominion State) from the southern corner of West Virginia.

Roanoke is not too far from West Virginia.  Nicknamed The Star City of The South because of a large star on Mill Mountain, people also refer to Roanoke as Magic City, Big Lick and Capital of the Blue Ridge.

Roanoke boasts the world's largest man-made star.

Culturally, Roanoke is a mix between New England and The Deep South.

I pulled into my house in Historic Grandin Village at one in the morning.

Daily Inputs:
-18 gallons of gas (thank you hybrid technology)
-1 Quizno's subway sandwich
-2 McDonald's mochas

Daily Outputs:
-818 miles
-Ready to embark on that next big step.

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