St. Louis gave me the creeps.  The Motel 6 was decent but the downtown area by the ballpark was totally sketchy.  St. Louis, at least on nights when the Cardinals are away, seems lawless and forgotten.  At 9:45 AM CT I left St. Louis gladly, and it was a beautiful day, sunny and 75.  I listened to St. Louis sports radio and people did not seem hopeful for the Rams.  One caller said they were five years away from competing and another said he thought they would win negative games.

I crossed the coolest bridge I’ve ever seen going from Missouri back into Illinois, and was greeted on the other side by an adult superstore.  There wasn’t much to see in Missouri, which I didn’t mind, but there was a lot of roadwork, which I did mind.   Southern Illinois redeemed the ugliness of northern Illinois, although Cairo is a real shithole.

I crossed another bridge over the Mississippi into Kentucky, which I didn’t mind because I love crossing bridges, and I was zigzagging the Mississippi so often now that I started to feel like the Mississippi King.  Putting on the Kentucky playlist got me jamming to the Kentucky Headhunters, who are so Dixie fried that you can hear the bourbon dripping off the microphone and the cowboy boots clicking to the beat.  I had been looking forward to them and they were cool.  They also have a fun cover of the Beatles’ You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.  Wickliffe was all I saw of Kentucky because when I filled up there I put my next destination into the GPS just to see what it would throw back at me.  I intended to drive deeper into Kentucky but Samantha (GPS voice, and hereinafter will be only referred to as Samantha) told me the best route was to go back over the narrow bridge I had just crossed and go south through Missouri.  I did as I was told.  When I planned to do 48 states Kentucky was the most geographically awkward state to catch.

Samantha’s new route gave me the treat of being in three states within ten minutes – Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri.  The elevation dipped to 320ish in Missouri, and that was the lowest I had been in a while.  I bought some ranch flavor sunflowers seeds but I ended up tossing them because they made my mouth feel slimy.  Seeds keep my hands and mouth occupied and make me more focused on the music and the road.

The weather heated up to 90 degrees for the first time on the trip when I arrived in Arkansas as Johnny Cash told me he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.  I was looking forward to the NFL radio’s 3-6 PM program Movin’ the Chains.  The hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan are my favorite duo on that channel.  Not only are they knowledgeable about football, but they have voices that permeate masculinity, and during the breaks they probably rip apart red meat and eat it raw, and drink Budweiser.

After an 18-wheeler coming the opposite way took a turn and swerved out into my lane I determined that the philosophy of many truck drivers is –I’m going where I need to and if you don’t like it let’s rumble.  Strong like bull.

One of the only things I saw in Memphis, Tennessee was a billboard advertising lap band surgery for $9,999.

I stopped in Mississippi and felt the southern heat for the first time.  It oppressed me and nearly melted me, but it felt good, really good.  A fellow named Dale manned the Mississippi Welcome Center and offered me a cup of coffee.  I already loved southern hospitality.  We chatted for a bit as I sipped black coffee.  Dale’s a history buff, and he showed me the Natchez Trace Parkway in a brochure and on the map.  It looks like a terrific drive and I might try and work it into tomorrow’s drive.  I thanked Dale and left.  Dale was one of the nicest people I’ve met so far – he gave me a cup of coffee and came upon a Motel 6 coupon that was going to save me $4.  When I got outside I wanted to soak up the heat, so I sat on a bench and let the Chevy rest for a little longer as I browsed for a restaurant in Jackson.

Wouldn’t you know that it was National Filet Mignon day and a nice-looking place called Char restaurant in Jackson was offering Filet Mignon specials and a free pecan pie dessert to anyone that mentioned –Mignon, to their server.  I also found out that it’s National Catfish Month, so I have to find one of them too.  I licked my lips and bolted to the Chevy.

A remix of Elvis’ A Little Less Conversation jolted me from a daze and I started paying closer attention because I loved this song.  Elvis sang about the old days of sending letters in Return to Sender and about heartbreak in Are You Lonesome Tonight?  I listened to Are You Lonesome Tonight? three times in a row.  The lyrics are wonderful, but terribly sad.  Suspicious Minds is a classic.  I had to see his Cadillac in the RnR HoF, drive past Graceland, and go to Mississippi, his home state, to finally get Elvis.  I finally realized why he’s such a big deal.  His voice is a powerful weapon that can unleash a force much greater than any bomb an underground lab of secret scientists could ever create.

It rained violently near Batesville, Mississippi, but it was very brief.  It was probably water that had risen up from the Mississippi and poured down upon me to remind me that I was a visitor, a trespasser, king of nothing, and that Elvis was the true King of the Mississippi.  Due to my new outlook on Elvis, I submitted quickly, and felt that I needed to beg for forgiveness, for my wild imagination.  A sign said ninety two miles to Jackson, but with Elvis singing to me, I didn’t care if it took all night.

I completely gave up on MyFitness Pal today for two reasons.  1) too time consuming 2) the horror, the way it looked back at me each time I went to enter food from McDonalds.

I arrived in Jackson hungry, so I quickly checked in and threw on my goin’ out clothes, which looked only slightly more respectable than my driving outfit, which is maximized for comfort.  At Char, I took a seat at the bar and the pianoman played Jewel’s Foolish Games, so I knew I had chosen the right spot.  The bartender, Kevin, asked me what I was going having to drink and the only thing I wanted in the whole world was a Budweiser, in the bottle.  The bar was all men, and each one of us was dining alone.  A guy from North Carolina sat next to a barbarian, who muttered –It already comes in a cold glass, when Kevin offered me one.  Later, the barbarian complained to the female bartender that he hates when people order specific types of vodka because nobody can tell the difference between Grey Goose and well vodka.  He also drank his wine with a fist on the stem, and by now I was also sure that his lips moved when he read.  But, the restaurant was nice and the meal was excellent, so I wasn’t bother by his dopey presence.  I had a filet mignon with crabmeat and shrimp and a loaded baked potato, and it was perfect.  Kevin asked me if I was ready for pecan pie and I wasn’t but said that I was anyway because I had thoughts I needed to sort out back at the motel.  The pecan pie was warm and it was topped with a scoop of ice cream.  The meal couldn’t have been better.  That is how I will remember Jackson, Mississippi.

The men at the bar seemed like they needed to talk, and I don’t mean just make polite conversation.  The guy from North Carolina and the barbarian had one of those conversations where each person was just waiting for their turn to talk.  They were not at all listening to each other.  It was like they were lonely from traveling and had to find someone to listen.  I didn’t say much except for being polite to the bartenders.  With the blog and messages/social media even though I’m by myself out here, I don’t feel alone, and certainly not lonely.  So, thanks for reading and thinking of me.

Today’s index:

Miles driven: 547

Miles total: 2317

States today: 5

States total: 18

Tolls today: 0

Cups of coffee today: 2

Total cups of coffee: 11

Hand I prefer on the steering wheel: left

Most frequently spotted chain other than McDonalds: Cracker Barrel

# of times I’ve been to Cracker Barrel: 0

# of times bird shit landed on the windshield today: 1

Total bird shits: 2

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Enclosed in a wooded area in Illinois
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P.S. Sorry for the smaller pics if you like bridges as much as I do – the Motel 6 wi-fi has frustrated me to no end and uploading pics is difficult.
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