Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip: Challenges and Successes!

Our day started in Missouri and ended in Nebraska and along the way we had quite a few challenges! First, I didn't wake up until 8:30 am because I had a diet Pepsi too late last night and couldn't go to sleep!  I told Mike, next time wake me up!  He said he just figured I needed to sleep. 

 I dressed quickly, packed my bags and my laptop, and took a few pictures of our loaded rig and then we went to the breakfast room. Well, we missed the breakfast!  All the other hotels we have stayed at closed their breakfast at 9:30 and this one closed at 9!  Challenge Number 1 - no breakfast!  Mike grabbed a cup of grade 'B' coffee - he said at least it was strong though lacking in flavor!  All of you who know Mike, know he makes his coffee strong and he likes dark roast robust coffees!
We climbed into the truck and got on the road.  We decided to head north out of St. Joseph, Missouri up Highway 29 through Iowa to Omaha, Nebraska to hook up with Interstate 80 to head west - instead of following the majority of the traffic which seemed to be heading west on Highway 36 to go west through Kansas.  
The road was great - hardly any traffic!  We came across a cornfield with a bunch of windmills in it. Mike was thrilled the road was uncrowded as it took a lot of the stress of driving the loaded trailer down the road.  

Despite it taking a little longer to get to Omaha than we had planned, the route was gorgeous!  Rolling hills covered with just-about-ready-to-harvest corn and lush deep green soybeans, spotted with immaculate farm houses and grain bins. 
 We settled in and enjoyed the ride . . .until we started looking for diesel again!  Exit after exit went by and no stations!  Challenge Number 2!

We pulled off at one intersection to get diesel and the turn into the station was too tight for Mike to take with our rig.  So we drove down the road a little bit, turned around, and went by the station again. He looked at the station again and thought he could probably make it and our gauge was down to 2 miles of fuel remaining!  He slowed the rig and began to back up to park and I heard a car honking so I told him to stop - a car was honking! There was a car behind us that we couldn't see - an elderly lady had pulled up so close to the back of the trailer we couldn't see her in our mirrors!    We ditched the plan to go to that station and  started out to the road when I noticed she had got out of her car and was looking at the front grill.  We must have hit her so Mike parked the truck and we went down to talk to her. 
Sure enough, the plastic hooks on the very back of our rig had sliced open her front bumper like it was butter! 
 Challenge Number 3!!  At least no one was hurt and her car had very little damage and of course, our heavy rig had no damage.  She was very nice and we apologized and said we just didn't see her which was the truth.  We both went on our way but we still hadn't fueled up!

We got back on the highway thinking there would be another gas station at the next exit.  We still had our jug of diesel in the back of the truck in case we were desperate and it was looking more that way than not with each exit we passed.  We checked our GPS and it said there was a station 6 miles down the road so we prayed we would get there - we did! Finally a success!
(I'm missing pictures for next paragraphs - see end of post!)
We pulled into the gas station to refuel and there was an Antique Mall at the gas station!  Success!  So as Mike refueled, I hit the mall running!  I didn't want to hold up our trip too long, but I hate to miss even one row of these malls, thinking I probably will miss a great deal!  Again, I was on the hunt for the mysterious purple chicken and other treasures!  I scoured the booths and saw amber chickens, and lots of white chickens, but no clear purple chickens.

The sales lady reminded me they had an upstairs so I climbed the stairs to the loft.  It was in the loft I found another great treasure!  Standing tall in a back corner of one of the booths was a vintage metal bird cage with it's original stand.  Birdcages sell out of the store as fast as we can get them in and birdcages on stands are hard to find - particularly when its an original pair!  It's easy to put a mismatch set together when you find a stand in one place and a cage in another but this was an original set!  I reached over to check the price tag and I almost fell over!  $12.  I read it again thinking it was marked wrong - nope - I read it right - $12!!  It was coming home with me!

Then just down about four more booths, I found a gorgeous Scarlett O'Hara type Southern Belle dress in my favorite color - tiffany blue!  This dress has ruffles all the way down the skirt and even little ruffle cap sleeves with a fitted bodice.  I pictured my friend's daughter, Rebecca, in it - perhaps dressed up as Little Bo Peep for Halloween or wearing it for a Cotillion-themed sorority party!  I took the dress and the birdcage down to the counter.  The price tag had fallen off the birdcage somewhere on the way down the stairs before I got to the check-out - Challenge Number 4!

I told the lady it had been marked $12 but she said I would have to find the tag.  I don't blame her - I couldn't believe it was $12 either!! So I traced my steps back to the staircase and went back up the stairs, and then scoured the booth - the tag was no where to be found.  I went back down and told the lady I couldn't find it and she said she would go look.  So we both repeated the same search - nothing!  She said she would call the vendor.  None one answered - Challenge Number 5!  She called the vendor's sister with whom she shared the booth and the sales lady described the birdcage set.  The sister said she didn't know what the price was and we would have to get a hold of the vendor.  So again the sales lady called the vendor - no answer.  She started writing up the dress and told me she would try one more time - she answered!! Yeah - but the vendor said she was just in the night before and bought she had just reduced the cage to $15 -not $12!  "I'll take at $15" I whispered to the sales lady - but the sales lady told the vendor that I knew the tag said $12 so perhaps we should split the difference - the vendor agreed!  Final price - $13.50! Still a deal - I told the sales lady thanks so much and she said, "I watch American Pickers - you never should pay full price!"  Wow! What a great sales lady!  Another success!

Mike had been really patient and had bought himself a donut while he was waiting for all of this.  He came over while I was checking out and the sales lady asked, "So where are y'all headed from here?' We told her and she said, "Oh no you're not!" Challenge Number 6!  She explained that the Missouri River had reached flood stage back in May and the Army Core of Engineers had blasted the levee, leaving part of Highway 29 impassable!  She explained not a lot of travelers know because they have not had any press coverage.  She explained that over 150,000 acres of corn and soybeans were under water in the bypass due to the flood.  Lots of her farming friends were under duress and she said she felt so sorry for them.  We looked at each other, understanding her story, and then we realized that must have been the reason the road was so empty!

We grabbed our map and she showed us how she got around the road closures on a Highway 59 the weekend before to get to Omaha.  We thanked her profusely and headed north on Highway 59.
There was a John Deere dealership about a mile down the road and Mike thought he'd just check with them about the status of the road to be sure we were headed in the right direction.  They confirmed we were on the right road.  Then about five miles down Highway 59 we came to a road closure sign!  Mike sighed and said, "That guy I talked to was a tool!"
Challenge Number 7 for the day and we had only been on the road for a few hours!  There was no option but to turn around and go back to the last spot we saw we could get on the main highway.  We backtracked and then decided we should just follow all the other big rigs in front of us!  We stopped one more time in a little town where we saw a bunch of big rigs parked and Mike went in and talked to the good ole boys sitting around a table shooting the breeze.  They all confirmed we were now on the right road and it was the only way to go 'unless you got an airplane!' Success!

We passed through Iowa and all of it's corn fields and then finally made it to Omaha, Nebraska and onto Interstate 80 where we will be all the way through Reno and almost home.  On the road for about three hours, Mike said he needed to stretch his legs and we might as well find diesel.  This time, we were not going to wait too long so we pulled off at another gas station which had an Antique Mall next to it.  We got out of the air conditioned truck and the heat was unbearable - it was 97 degrees and 95 percent humidity!!  I quickly went into the Mall.  Mike filled up and then joined me in the air conditioning!!  The Mall had a little cafe inside so Mike sat down and relaxed a bit - it had been a pretty stressful day to that point!

I started the search for the elusive purple chicken, the small little bottles for another client and any other great finds I may uncover.  Then I saw it - what I thought was the holy grail!  I had never seen so many glass chicken dishes in one place!
 I looked carefully at the dealer's collection - but still - no purple chicken!

I was able to find a few tiny bottles for my other client and saw all kinds of vintage farm equipment and mid century furniture but nothing really excited me.  I was a little off my game - probably due to the stress of the morning.  I ran back into Mike and he showed me one of his finds - a belt buckle with the Sacramento Northern Railroad emblem on it!
 The Sacramento Northern Railroad used to go right by our house in East Nicolaus.
Mike's Uncle Jim lived in East Nicolaus during that time and they used to play outside and watch the trains come through.  Mike got the buckle as a gift for his uncle - so don't breathe a word about it if you see him!  He also found a small bottle with 1930's Crude Oil from a well on a Nebraska's School site - he wanted something to remind him of Nebraska for his desk,  Mike has a whole collection of small objects on his desk from his travels - so I thought I'd surprise him with something as well.
 I found a plastic scale model of the St. Louis Gateway Arch in one of the booths and bought it for him.  In order to look at the harvester tracks before we bought them, he had flown into St. Louis, Missouri. He rented a car and drove downtown to visit the landmark before proceeding onto Divernon, Illinois and the Dowson's farm to view and purchased the tracks. So now he had a souvenir of that trip as well!

Before we left the store, Mike said I HAD to see something. I followed him to the back of the store and he pointed to this -
It was probably the single most cheesiest picture I have ever seen of Elvis!  Do you just not love that wide lapel?! Mike's mother loves Elvis so I said, "You don't want to get this for your mom do you?!"  "NO!" He exclaimed. "I just wanted you to take a picture of it so we could show her!  It's amazing!  It's like a memorial!  Half picture, half shrine with the light on the frame that shines on it!" I was sooo relieved!  Not only is it a cheesy picture, but the tacky brass frame adds to its cheesiness!  We thought about getting it for our White Elephant Christmas - but we were too cheap to pay for it!  Like I always say, you can find anything in an antique store!!

Back on the road, we drove through more and more cornfields and soybean fields.  At least on Interstate 80  the speed limit for all vehicles is 75 miles per hour.  We decided just to eat at Taco Bell tonight since we had so many challenges today. Sometimes you just have to call it quits when the day doesn't start just right.  We pulled into our hotel about an hour earlier than usual and I started working on my blog. Then along came Challenge Number 8 - I couldn't get my pictures to load!  I loaded the first batch and then bam!  The wireless went down and I couldn't load anymore.  So I'll add the rest of the pictures to this post later - I'm calling it quits for today!

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