Ah, St. Louis: the Gateway to the West, Mound City, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, (Notice I did not include the St. Louis Rams. We don't like them right now.) gooey butter cake, Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard, St. Louis style pizza, Ray's Donuts, and our home in the beautiful suburb of Brentwood. It is good to be back.
Our drive from North Myrtle Beach was an interesting one. We picked up our one-way Enterprise rental car from the new international airport in Myrtle Beach, driven there by Dale of Sweet Pea during a very busy day for her and Jim. They are transplanted Massachusettsans having just recently bought a house a short distance from Barefoot Marina. As a matter of fact they are still living on the boat as they are having work done to their new home.
The car was bigger than usual one for us. Normally we would rent a compact car or crossover but the last couple of time that we've rented a car like that we have been dissappointed by how uncomfortable they have been. We are not youngsters anymore and our backs would usually scream bloody murder pretty quickly. I pleaded the case for renting something a bit more large in the hopes it would be a bit more comfortable. When we went to the lot to pick up our car the lot attendant asked us if we wanted free upgrade to a larger SUV, a GMC Acadia with all the bells and whistles, a leather interior with bigger seats. It looked nice and we made the switch. The comfort was only marginally better. My situation wasn't as bad as usual. Lisa was still pretty uncomfortable. We were both looking forward to our own cars, mine being an old Ford Focus station wagon beater, hers a Dodge pick up truck. We also have a Mazda RX-8 for kicks.
We were warned that driving to or from the Myrtle Beach area was a classic example of the "you can't get there from here" adage. Interstate 95 runs north-south past the area but is out west of the Grand Strand a good bit. Interstate 26, the first of several interstate highways that we would be on terminates at I-95 so there were quite a few smaller state highways to navigate. It seemed like it took forever to finally get onto a decent highway. But we did and that initial delay, plus rain much of the way, made for a slow first day. We finally pulled into a hotel in Clarksville, Tennessee for the night. The second day's travel was on familiar turf with beautiful blue skies after an initial bout of fog. The highways from Myrtle Beach made their way to Nashville from which we would travel on a familiar set of interstate highways on into St. Louis. They were familiar to us from our drives to and from Florida. But we had a very enjoyable stop to make first.
One of the interstate highway legs is on I-25 which runs from Nashville to the middle of southern Illinois. It runs past Kentucky and Barkley Lake on its way to Paducah, as well as Green Turtle Bay Marina, the oasis stop-over for loopers who have just finished the run down the Mississippi River from north of St. Louis. We knew that our friends Rick and Margi of Journey, along with the boats that have been looping with, were probably in the area somewhere. While we were about twenty miles east of the area we dropped them a quick text message asking them where they were. The response was almost immediate and it was the answer we wanted to see. They were at Green Turtle Bay. We soon found ourselves pulling into the marina parking lot reveling in seeing our friends once again. They filled us in on their adventure on the Mississippi which actually sounded somewhat mundane. Running up the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers sounded a bit more challenging but they were very happy with their progress and circumstances. As it was still pretty early we all went to breakfast together catching up with them and all their adventures. It was so good to see them again. We also met the crews of the other two boats they were travelling with.
Seeing them with their looping flotilla companions made us remember that we were utterly alone on the entire leg from St. Charles, Missouri all the way down to Dog River Marina at Mobile, Alabama. The only other loopers we came in contact with were Steve and John of Memsahib while we were at Kingfisher Marina at Demopolis, Alabama and that was only for a day as we were ready to move on and they were staying there for a while with engine problems. We did a lot of our loop by ourselves. The only real exceptions was through the first half of the Erie Canal, the first half of the Trent-Severn Waterway, a bit of Lake Michigan, the Illinois River, the panhandle of Florida and the crossing. We would have liked to have had the comraderie that comes with boating with others. But we always put the best face on things, and frankly, Lisa is a wonderful companion in every way and we always have fun together. We did just fine.
Soon our reunion had to give way to the reality that we had to move on. We left Green Turtle Bay back onto the interstate highways that took us to our home in St. Louis. Everything is as we left it. We will be here for a week before we head off to Denver for a few weeks. We will then fly back to St. Louis for a tad before getting back into another one-way rental car to head back to North Myrtle Beach.
One more thing...Go Cards!