Ponyville Episode 2: Toto, We Are Definitively Not in Kansas Anymore

Finally, we’ve arrived in Kansas on our trip back to North Carolina.  This was our long day of driving.  I think we left at about ten or so, fully expecting to arrive in Southaven, MS, which is just south of Memphis, by seven or so.  Except that we decided to listen to our Garmin.  Bad move.

Well, it started out innocently enough.  Our plan had been to drive from Kansas City to St. Louis and drop down on I-55 from St. Louis to Memphis.  Well, as most of you know, interstate is very boring, especially interstate out in the Midwest.  Also, I’d been to Jefferson City several years ago for work, and I remembered what a charming town it was.  So we decided to go to Jefferson City and have lunch there before continuing on our way.

Jefferson City is actually the state capital for Missouri.  Supposedly, the lawmakers who wanted to put the capital there in the eighteen hundreds had actually suggested the name Missouriopolis.  Good thing the name didn’t stick.  Instead, it was named after Thomas Jefferson.  The population is about 50,000 people, so not too big for a capital.  It’s got a nice capitol building as well as a charming downtown.  We ate at a local diner, gassed up, and decided to have an adventurous streak.

That adventurous streak is what led us toward potential trouble.  I programmed our Garmin with the address of our hotel, and soon enough, we found ourselves in the wilds of Missouri, traveling down a highway that led us further and further into the hills that would lead up to the Ozarks.  We quickly realized that maybe the boring interstate was best.  The challenge remained how to get there.

We silenced the Garmin and pulled out our phones, both of which have GPS.  So we had to get back onto the interstate, but to avoid adding additional time, we decided, after much debate, to go back onto the state roads and follow the route set out by the Droid.  The state route turned into a very rural road as we twisted and curved to Interstate 55.

Safe at last on 55, we began the journey south.  I dozed, and when I woke up, our Garmin (which we’d reactivated), showed that we’d lost over 500 feet of altitude as we dropped into the Mississippi River valley.  I-55 follows the Mississippi all the way to Memphis before cutting inland and passing through central Mississippi.  As the sun went down, we realized just how flat the land was at barely 300 feet above sea level.  And talk about straight road!

We decided to stop in Blytheville, Arkansas.  As I wrote in a Facebook post, this town scared me.  The best place to eat in town?  Perkins.  There’s an Air Force base here, and we mutually agreed that we’d rather be posted in the hinterlands of New Mexico than there.  The whole place just gave me the creeps.  Needless to say, we didn’t waste any time getting back onto the road.

So here we are now, tucked away in our room just south of Memphis and getting ready to make our tour through Mississippi and Alabama.  The nice thing?  I’m back home in the South.  The Chick Fil A I saw was all of the indication I needed.

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