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I’m sure a lot of you didn’t think I was going to ever leave St. Louis. Hell, I didn’t think I was going to leave St. Louis. Car problem after random thoughts of fear and doubt later, I fucking made it.
The day I left St. Louis, as Jen informed me, ironically was ‘National Vodka Day.’ Now, for those of you who know me, you can see the sheer irony in this and laugh a little bit. For those of you who don’t know me? Well, I fucking love vodka and that’s pretty much all you need to know. Tito’s/Club—Splash of Cranberry, or as Anne and I like to call them “White Girls.” Fitting, since it’s for all the basic bitches out there. (Love you, Anne XO)
The day before I was going to leave St. Louis, again, the radiator fan on the Jeep decided that it needed to be replaced, as my car warned me by overheating the roughly two miles from where I live to Target. I immediately go into panic mode, and then I remembered something some douchebag once told me: If your car ever starts overheating, blast the heat as much as you can, and it will function as a backup radiator to your car temporarily. Well, it was a balmy 90 degrees in St. Louis that day, but I did it. I rolled down all the windows, cranked the heat, and got that bitch home.
Five minutes seemed like twenty. As my heat blasted, I could see the temperature gauge of my car slowly get out of the danger zone, but then my mind immediately headed straight toward said danger zone, as it tends to do. I went in to an immediate panic. I went inside and just sat on the couch to chill out. I went back outside, and the car wouldn’t even start. I pop the hood and I check the fluids and nothing seems to be leaking, as I got an oil change not even four days before this, in preparation for my trip.
I let the car sit overnight and called my mechanic the next morning. The good news was, I did the right thing by just letting it sit, because I could’ve essentially blown a head gasket. Another six-hundred dollar car repair (in case you’re counting, that’s three in a month now). I started to doubt if I should even drive this car to Wyoming, but I was dead set on leaving and exploring.
The next morning, I packed my car, and I left.
As I got on the highway from the city around 10:30 in the morning on Thursday, I was sipping my coffee and cruising. I turned on “The Wall” by Pink Floyd and just started to look in my rearview mirror. I was coming up to my moms’ exit on the freeway and called her to ask if she was home so that I could give her a hug before I left. She said that she was running out of the door at that very moment and that she was late for a meeting, I called her back about five minutes later, as the coffee had hit me by then, to tell her I was stopping by her house anyway to use the bathroom.
I went to exit the highway and was going to take the route that I never take, just because I thought it would be faster, but at the last minute, got off at the exit that I always take to get to moms because I figured, less stop lights, and I had to go.
As I am driving through her suburban subdivision, I am on the phone with mom to let her know that I am stopping by, and she asks, “Is that you at the stop sign?”
My mother and I crossed paths right before I left; my first sign that it was the proper day to leave. I got out of the car, ran across the street and gave her a huge hug. She told me that she loved me and to be careful, and it was just what I needed in my feeling of sudden panic as I was leaving everything and everyone I had known and loved for a long time. She also told me to let her know when I got somewhere safe. Gotta love Mommas.
On the way, I learned that there were 693 motor vehicle deaths in Missouri this past year (reassuring), and that MoDOT has gotten very clever with their signs along Highway 70 Westbound, such as “Drive Sober, Not Shaken or Stirred” (even MoDOT knew it was National Vodka Day!), or my personal favorite, “Drive High, Get A DUI.”
I then learned just how beautiful Northern Missouri is, and I just took everything in. I found myself in Iowa for about twenty-ish minutes, when I had to stop to use the restroom again. I stopped at an exit that was your typical travelers exit, filled with about eight gas stations and every fast food restaurant you could imagine. I picked a random gas station, and as I walked in, I hear “Young Americans” by David Bowie playing.
“Really?” I said to myself, and I just started smiling, and naturally, I started to sing along. (The people in that gas station probably thought I was nuts, but, fuck ‘em.)
I got back on the road and drove through Nebraska, and I mean allllllllllllllllllllllllll of Nebraska. I stopped half way at a luxurious Super8 in York, Nebraska, and, since it was National Vodka Day, I was determined to find a bottle of Tito’s in this tiny town, and rest assured, I did. I woke up the next day, got my Starbucks that this bum-fuck town happened to have (which was a win in my book), got back on the road, and learned that there were 168 motor vehicle deaths in the state of Nebraska that year. Yet again, reassuring.
It started to rain. I turned my headlights on, and I could suddenly feel my hands tightly gripping my steering wheel. The rain started to splash from other cars onto mine, and I thought for sure I was going to hydroplane off of the road, or even worse, smack dab into the middle of a median. As I looked to the North, I saw nothing but blue skies, and I kept on driving. And then it all hit me on the great wide open road:
Why was I afraid of these raindrops on my windshield, when I was the entire fucking thunderstorm?
Nebraska was boring for a while, but the further North I got, the prettier it got. Until I drove through the biggest fucking windstorm I’ve ever driven through. Imagine tumbleweeds rolling across the highway, as a scene from a terrible old Western Film. At one point, I thought my car was going to get swept off the road. I stopped at a random rest stop in Nebraska where I was sure there was a serial killer just lurking in the bathroom stall next to me, and I called Jen just in case this actually did happen, there would be statistical data on the last phone call I made.
And then I made it to Wyoming.
The speed limit on the highways here is 80 (step up your game, Missouri), and the views here are absolutely breathtaking. Life here is the complete opposite of what I am used to in St. Louis, and it’s fucking cold. It’s been snowing for the past couple of days, but it is supposed to get nice for the remainder of the week/weekend, and then, I will explore. I was advised not to drive to my first place on the list until the water/snow has cleared.
First on the list: Laramie Peak.
‘Til next time.