Traveling Part 3: the middle bit with the pictures

After leaving my Auntie I traveled along I-80 to Urbandale.  The whole way was more crops, but this time they were attractively planted over rolling hills.  I loved one farmer’s signage along the interstate in which he lauded his/her own practices in an “integrated farming system for sustainable agriculture”. ( This is a very popular idea and everyone has something to say about it if you Google it.)

Much of what I saw looked like this with crops planted to fit the hillsides and runoff channeled to collect into natural sumps of grasses and wildflowers native to the area.  I liked it!

Along the way I stopped into an outlet mall because they had a Wilson’s House of Leather there.  Auntie said she was sad that good leather purses were impossible to find and that hers was over 30 + years old.  Trust me when I tell you that it looked it!  Scratched, stained, grommets all popped, in short, it was a mess.  I found her a lovely black bag that I think she will like and it is in the mail to her.

After all the farms Urbandale, a suburb of DesMoines, felt like a megalopolis!  Sprawling, modern, traffic ridden.  Too boot, there was some big deal golfing tournament going on that weekend!  I looked forward to the quiet rest at my hotel.  I was smack dab in the middle of the state that night and slept soundly.

Next morning I left early to sunshine and a lovely drive that would take me to Smithville  Lake, Missouri, where I was going to sit on the path of Totality and watch the eclipse!  However, getting there would prove to be treacherous, as the weather would not stay lovely for long.  The clouds moved in, the interstate squeezed down to one lane of traffic and I was essentially sitting on a very long parking lot for 12 miles.  Six of those miles were adusting 3 lanes down to one, and the other six were actually traveling through the construction.

The rain and traffic looked like this. Do you see the final narrowing down to one lane up on the hill?   HA!  55 MPH? No 5 MPH.

This took two hours to drive and there was no place to stop.  That’s right.  No potty break on this stretch.

My much-needed break was in sight!  However, this is precisely where the road work was happening and there was no way to get across!

I gritted my teeth and crawled on.

Once the traffic emptied out of the bottleneck I looked in vain for sign with information on rest rooms or small stores, anything!  I finally saw one and got off of the I-35 and the sign said 4 miles to the left.  It was a two lane road in the middle of nothing.  No other cars, no buildings, barns, houses, cows, or crops.  Nothing but bumpy hilly land as far as I could see.  I was desperate and took the chance of finding that gas station.

I traveled for some distance and thought surely it would come up, but it didn’t.  I thought that perhaps as it all was so deserted and the roads had turned to little tracks in the mud that maybe I would just pull over into the weeds.  But you know that every time I thought about it a pickup truck would come rolling out of a track in the hills and brush and I would think against it.  I was desperate by this time and finally found my way back to the interstate.  I got on and traveled several miles to find the only gas station  I had seen in almost 50 miles.  I rushed inside and had to wait in a long line while 5 ladies, one with three kids, also waited for the only two stalls available.  I was in pain and certain I would embarrass myself at any moment.

Finally, the three kids came out of the stall, their mom ran in, and then it was my turn.  I was saved from public humiliation, but barely.

I finally arrived at my hotel worn out and ready to view the eclipse and then rest.

This was my view of the eclipse:

Click for clarity and captions

I can’t complain but one of the visitors I met there was having a meltdown over this.  She was so nice to me and gave me a pair of glasses to wear, but then when the clouds moved in she started crying to her 5-year-old about how sad she was and how she had wasted money they didn’t have to travel there.  This was a very big disappointment, sure, but I felt more sorry for her little girl as mom’s meltdown was clearly upsetting her.

I guess we all felt a little jilted in Missouri over the sun’s hidden position.

The clouds hiding the eclipse were the worst of our worries!  That night they brought an epic storm in.  Thunder, lightning flood warnings for the whole area from Smithville all the way down to Kansas City!

Ever see pictures of when they open the sluices on a dam and the water boils out of the end of the openings?

OK, I exaggerated a little bit here, the openings were only 8 to 10 inches on the hotel’s gutters, but the effect of the rain coming out was the same.

So I get ready for bed, and then I see it…  it is raining sideways out there and it is coming in through the seams along the base and sides of the window!  The management brought me plenty of towels to block and sop up the mess.  YIKES!

The rain leaking in made my room smell even worse than when I first got there.

I had paid for two nights here, but couldn’t take the smell.  I was grateful when I asked for my money back on that second night’s stay and they said, Yes.

So why did I book here?  Well, this is what was advertised online.

Not fancy, but it looked clean and adequate…

Looks OK until you actually get there.  Not quite as advertised…

I’m sorry this took so long to get done, but I have been busy with a bunch of quilting and quite a few baby bantam chicks (who demanded a cement floor in the old well house) and more! 

Which I will tell you about, but the next stop is Hamilton, MO!

Thank you for your patience.  🙂







40 thoughts on “Traveling Part 3: the middle bit with the pictures

    • Lynda says:

      Connie, I wanted to, but you never answered me back. I will be traveling through again to see my Auntie and would love to see you! I will let you know when I’m coming up again so we can make definite plans. 🙂

  1. petspeopleandlife says:

    Oh my goodness what a travel nightmare with no bathroom in sight. I would have been livid. Next time maybe carry a bucket with lots of paper towels in the bottom. If push comes to shove and your bladder is about to explode better to use a bucket but pulling over to the side. That is if you could pull over and you had one of those shade things that attaches to the windows and no one can see through. If you were on I-35 it really is a nightmare in places here in some areas where I live. I-35 begins in the Texas valley at the border and goes all the way to the Canadian border. Many trucks use the road with a high number from Mexico. The road should have been wider in the beginning since anyone with sense knows that the population grows and traffic increases as the years go by.

    I know your aunt will love that new leather purse. Good for you in being a sweet niece. Sure hope your next rip north will be a better one.

    • Lynda says:

      Yvonne, Thank you for your empathy. 🙂 Seems the older we get the more pit stops we need, eh? With the exception of the section with the road construction most of I-35 was moving along nicely in Missouri. Now in SoCal what you see in my picture above is the standard protocol during rush hour, and often even when it is not rush hour! 😯 Here in the Huntsville area, where the tech industry rules and is growing by leaps and bounds there is chaos!

      Huntsville has always been about space and technology since the 60s but when jobs were tough to find over the past 10 or more years, well the area seemed to keep growing and quite rapidly! With more new businesses moving in it brings with it job seekers. They have seriously overgrown their sleepy township and now are suffering with limited options for road overhauls to manage the mass traffic. A surprising amount of it is from Tennessee! In the AM it is very congested from Tennesseans coming over the state line into the city and in the PM it is the exodus of those same commuters going home. The highway is only four lanes. 😐

      It is a problem everywhere and now more so as our population continues to boom. Perhaps city planners might get a clue for the future, but… ?

  2. katechiconi says:

    I feel your rest stop pain… especially when you reach what you hope will be a place of relief, only to find a queue, or locked door, or facilities so foul you can’t imagine using them. We’ve had our share of rain on this trip, and I too will tell all later.

    • Lynda says:

      LOL, Kate! I had to resort to a place “too foul” once when my friend Lori came to visit. I came out of the door and immediately ran to the grass to thoroughly wipe my shoes. I was doing something like the Twist and was totally creeped out! I got back in the truck and she says, “What was that all about?” The gas station in question has now remodeled and the door for the facilities must be entered from inside the store. One imagines that it is kept much more sanitary now. 😛

      I do look forward to your next post and remain enthralled with that lovely beach! I find it restive even though I haven’t walked it.

      • katechiconi says:

        Yes, I reckon that’d do it…
        I love taking beach photos, but am often disappointed by how the colours and subtle colour graduations turn out in the camera instead of my eye. This has been a notable exception.

        • Lynda says:

          I feel that frustration with camera color rendition. I am thinking that it has to do with the digital camera and its need to overcompensate in adjusting everything for us. Some cameras let you set to manual, but I haven’t a clue if mine does. I think I should investigate this further. 😉

  3. Anita says:

    Thank you. Sitting here with tissues and chicken soup feeling miserable until I went along on your adventure. I was able for a few minutes to forget my misery and enjoy the ride.

    • Lynda says:

      Anita, I’m so sorry to read that you are under the weather. I do hope that you are feeling well soon and glad that my longish post gave you respite. I hate stuffy head colds. The seem to take an age to clear, or at least mine do. Feel better soon! ❤

    • Lynda says:

      Lillian, it was so much fun! Were you there before or after it became the Missouri Star Quilt Company headquarters? I had only seen it in pictures and sure enjoyed walking the shops. I am writing on the next post and hope to have it published very soon!

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Re: “integrated farming system for sustainable agriculture”. Pretty sure that’s ModSpeak for small, Family Farms with mixed livestock – dairy/beef cattle, sheep or goats; poultry and maybe even swine who all contribute to soil health and vitamin-rich, HEALTHY, naturally insect-resistant crops to feed the farm and (hopefully) many others…
    (Did you know that many plants – in their most natural forms – start to produce & release insecticide when nibbled upon? Or that those wetland/Swale areas you noticed between fields are host to predatory/ beneficial insects birds and many other species that feed on and help control insect infestations in the neighbouring crops? SO glad to hear the sort of farming you observed still exists!: ) Sadly, around here it is under threat of extinction (and just a “bit of a bug” for me. ):

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, and yes! I am a science geek when it comes to plants and growing things. Though I have been out of the loop for a bit since we moved here. I did know that plants make their own barriers and send out messages in the soil too to advance a defense. Recently, I had a jungle full of what I thought were okra come up from some compost I put in a raised bed. Turns out they were papaya seeds not okra! In researching how and where they grow I found out that our frost this Sunday will kill them down to the ground so my little 4 inch papayas will never reach maturity. I also found out that they are pest free too. No bug will touch them! Smart plants!

      As for the integrated farming it seems to be a slow burn here and I hope it continues. The farm with the sign was fabulous and very lush!

        • Lynda says:

          HA-HA-HA! Never gonna happen. They have grown all summer long and are 10 foot trees now! What I have planned is to sprout some early on the windowsill and then plant a few into larger nursery cans. I intend to place the cans under a PVC and plastic makeshift green house cover in early spring. Wish me luck. 😀

    • Lynda says:

      It was, Tom. I have spent so many years unable to get out and about, and then to drive almost 2,000 miles round trip, well, that made it all the more exciting for me! So, I have been reading that there will be another totality event in 2024 that goes over Texas. I was born in Texas. I have friends in Texas. I will be there! 😀

  5. Littlesundog says:

    Good gracious. Farm girls just get off the beaten path and find a country road! Surely not all of the rural roads were busy? I almost always have Kleenex tissues in our vehicles. I’m still just flabbergasted at the progress you’ve made, Lynda! So confident and adventurous these days. We will get our road trip one day soon. At least now I have a dependable vehicle.

    Don’t make us wait too long to tell more of the eclipse story. I’m enjoying all of these installments! 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      ” Surely not all of the rural roads were busy?”

      Lori, it was uncanny. Every time I got ready to pull over another big truck would pull out of the those shrub and tree encrusted hills so I just kept driving. Well, and then there was all that MUD. That rain had been going for some time and everything was squishy on those dirt tracks. I am happy for myself to have been able to actually do this. I think it helped that I had a clear destination (family, eclipse and MSQC) and also that I had mapped out exactly where I was going and what day I would be there. Kind of ultra controlled, but who cares? I went!

      Looking forward to seeing you again when you are ready.

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, that storm was far reaching! Bill, I didn’t know you were in St. Louis. I drove right by. I have become such a country bumpkin that the city of St. Louis was very intimidating for me to travel through. And to think I come from SoCal which is wall to wall city!!! I’ve gone soft in my old age. 😛

  6. shoreacres says:

    My goodness, I’ve had this tab open for longer than I realized. I’m sorry you missed perfect eclipse viewing, but your trip sounds just great. Well, ok — maybe not that motel. But still — it could have been worse. Much worse. I’m remembering being in a certain motel with my folks, c. 1960, and experiencing a cricket invasion. Not a dozen crickets — thousands, all through the town. Better not to think about it.

    The task of finding appropriate “facilities’ can be a challenge, for sure — especially out in the wide open spaces. Actually, I’ve found that in places where there’s more cattle than people, and towns are only an elevator or a gas station with a grill, there are plenty of places in between where a girl can find relief — as long as you don’t squat on a thistle or a fireant bed. 😉

    When I was traveling in West Africa, I learned a good trick from the Peace Corps women. Always wear a long, ankle length skirth, and no undies. As long as you’re able to sit on your haunches like the market women, you’re good to go!

    • Lynda says:

      Linda, so I am not the only one? Leaving tabs open is my specialty. Even when I’m writing a post. In fact, I thought I had left you in the TZ but see that this time it wasn’t me. 😉
      As for the eclipse, well, I had a great time in spite of the weather. However, I don’t think I could have managed your cricket invasion. I don’t mind them much, but that sounds a bit excessive.

      Your ankle length skirt tip might be quite useful for upcoming trips, but the real problem for me is between my ears I think. :mrgreen:

      So now I’m off to finish the post in the tab I left open for the conclusion of my journey. 😀

  7. Steve Schwartzman says:

    So you got to share a piece of Interstate 35, which is often jammed up in Austin even without an eclipse. We drove I-35 up to Kansas City in April. Between Austin and Dallas differing parts of the highway have been under construction for a zillion years, and that makes the driving even more of a pain.

    • Lynda says:

      I might well imagine! I hate traffic. I nearly had a meltdown in St. Lewis on this trip. It felt just like being back in LA at rush hour! I’m not used to that anymore. Here a traffic jam is when there are 3 or 4 cars/trucks following behind a big rig of farm equipment on a two lane road! 😯

  8. LB says:

    I’ve been so caught up in campaign madness that I feared I’d missed the latest travel update. Such an adventure you had! I’m sure aunt will love her purse!
    I feel badly for that little girl … her mother could have made the best of that situation. Then again, I have no idea of all that mother had sacrificed to get there.
    Glad you found that bathroom!

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