Sunday, December 23, 2007

Midwestern Tour 2007

John Calvin and I just returned from our whirlwind tour of the midwest. A quick run down --

  • Three nights
  • Nine states
  • 1853 miles - 596 miles the longest day
  • Three customer visits
  • Five phone interviews
  • Two books on tape
  • One and a half inches of snow
  • Not a whole lot of sleep
As always, there were a few side visits - stops at the Louisville Water Tower; the Gateway Arch; the former location of John's ancestor's home and office in Nashville; and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, such as it is, in Cincinnati. We got our picture made in St. Louis by a deputy sheriff who was amused by our efforts with a tripod on the hood of the Jeep.

Famous river crossings included the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Kanahwa, and Wabash; we were close to the mouth of the Missouri but didn't spend the extra couple of hours it likely would have meant to drive out and back. I-64 crosses the Kanahwa four times near Charleston, WV.

The culinary highlight was a stop at Skyline Chili for a plate of "Four Way with beans" since neither of us care for raw onions.

Most interesting signs: Coming around a curve, we encountered "Bellshire Church of God", which looked for an instant just like Hellfire Church of God. Well, we know what they're preaching.

Several towns in West Virginia (amazingly enough, not named for Senator Robert Byrd) carried signs that said "Certified Business Location"; coming into the state, a large sign that said "West Virginia is Open for Business" (John asked if we came another day, would it read "Closed for Remodeling"?).

The last day, a billboard with a plush chair advertising a comfortable church; my thought - "I can't believe a church would do that to itself."

Most impossible route: A stretch of Interstate that runs simultaneously north and south while actually oriented east/west (a personally infamous segment near Wytheville, VA, where I-77 and I-81 share a roadbed with US 52 and US 11 for eight miles). At this point, I-77 N goes to Charleston WV, while I-81 N goes to the Shennandoah Valley. Beware ...

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UPDATE: A commenter asked which books we listened to. We finished up Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City. This is the story of two rival architects, estranged partners, who ended up constructing competing "world's tallest building" designs - the Chrysler Building and the Bank of the Manhattan Co. Building -- just before the 1929 crash. The Empire State Building shot up a year later and eclipsed them both.

The other was The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II, an account of the fight to keep a route open to re-supply free China, defend India, liberate Burma, and most importantly, provide a land route to push Japan back to the Pacific ... a strategic consideration that was bypassed by the island-hopping route eventually implemented. A tremendous story I knew little about before.

2 comments:

sockmonkey said...

Yes, yes,....but what books did you listen to?

Hal said...

Thanks for the question, sockmonkey. I've updated the original post.

FWIW, I usually do a wrap-up of the year's reading the first week or two of January. This year is a little light by number, about fifty titles, but some of them were slow if worthwhile reading (Dostoyevski, for one, and Tocqueville another).