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.  🙂