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Friday, June 19, 2009

HOM: Rolla

We took I-64 and passed through through the bottom end of Indiana and touched Illinois for the second time on the trip, this time homeward bound, more or less. We made it to St. Louis, the traditional starting point for westward travel. It was evening when we got there, and the Gateway Arch was lit up. We didn't stop, but that view of the arch and the river was unforgettable. So was the sigh of relief I gave when I got back on the proper side of the Mississippi River. I am a Westerner, and the territory east of the river is like a foreign country in a lot of ways. Like Will Rogers said, I like people better when they aren't packed so close together. You can really notice how the old equation of Population Density versus Freedom applies when you go from Montana to the East Coast. Rolla, MO, was our next stop. Cousin (Doctor, by this point.) Jerry Westphal, last seen in Reno, was now teaching Hydrology at the School Of Mines, formally known as the University of Missouri–Rolla. It was a Kalispell-sized city in a rural area, and our visit there was a lot of fun. Jerry and his son Jeff & Bec & I hiked back to a little creek behind his place and did a little plinking with the .22 revolver I'd smuggled along. (That revolver, by the way, was another bone of contention between Dick & I. He was appalled that I brought a weapon along, especially to MA where the mere possession would cost me a year in jail if I was caught with it. I was appalled at the idea of travelling unarmed with a wife and child. The old 911 adage of "When seconds count, help is only minutes away" was and is all too true, and having a gun had saved me grief more than once in the past.) Funny. The main memory I have of their house is the sign in the bathroom saying "Seating Capacity: 1". I did a little touristing and visited the Meramac Caverns, reputed to have been a hideout for Jesse James at one time. It was a bit more primitive than it is now, and was a fun place to visit. The layover in Rolla was one of the nicer times on the trip. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)