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10:22 a.m. - November 09, 2006
Kansas / OK - Day One - Ooh That Smell...
First of all, I want everyone to give my guests a big round of applause. All of them truly rocked the Casbah, as it were, and I really, truly appreciate it. Unfortunately, now you'll have to read my drivel for a while.


Missouri is not the Show Me State.

Nope, it's the State Of Billboards.

That's what it seems like if you have to (grump, grump) take an interstate across the state.

All along Interstate 70 there were billboards every 500 feet or so, and they were pretty darn high up in the sky as well - as in you can't miss them.

At least on I-70 you only got billboards for car dealers, resorts, porn shops (more on those in a later installment) and hotels. Oh, and the scare tactic political billboards that didn't work. On I-44, all you see are billboards for Branson, Merrimac Caverns, and the sickeningly sweet Precious Moments Inspiration Park. No, I'm not kidding. Click here and be prepared to lapse into a diabetic coma.

But I'm ahead of myself.

The trip to Kansas was going to take two days. Normally, I could drive it in one, but with two kidlets two days seemed much better. So I determined that the best place to stop was Columbia, Missouri.

I said that we needed to get going by 9 or 9:30, with 10 being the latest, if we wanted to get to Missouri in time to rest, relax and recharge for the trip to Kansas.

I got my clothes ready, Liz packed the clothes, and got the girls ready, and my nephew was ready to go. We loaded up the rented minivan and pulled out.

What time did we leave la casa de Smed?


We'll never be on time for anything again.

Because of that, I pick an alternate route, with even MORE interstate goodness (kill me now) as I wanted to be sure we could stop for lunch easily on the way.

So armed with the iPod, set on shuffle, we gallivanted across Indiana and Illinois, taking in the sights of Danville, Champaign - Urbana, Decatur and Springfield. We ate at a Satan's Fast Food Emporium (mainly because of the play area – and McNuggets) and generally had a safe, sane trip.

Katie was told to be on the lookout for a bridge that crossed the Mississippi River. Naturally, the first big bridge crossed a canal, so she thought it WAS the Mississippi, until we actually crossed it and she was amazed at how much water there was. It was almost as big as the ocean, she said.

Well, not quite, dearie.

Around St. Louis we went, headed toward Columbia. There was a spot of traffic around St. Louis (because of our late start - we hit early rush hour on Friday afternoon) but all in all it was pretty smooth.

Liz was doing OK. The trip wasn’t easy on her, and of course having two kidlets in the car is another kettle of fish, too. This was Kristin's first long car trip and she was handling it well, except that she only napped for a little while.

I was reading the scare tactic political billboards ("We here in Missouri think you should vote to keep people poor and to not do any research at all because that may save people's lives and you know it's all scientific and stuff. Thanks!") and anxiously awaiting the Fairfield Inn in Columbia, where dinner, a swim, time on the computer and bed all appealed to me.

It was about an hour outside of Columbia when we heard those immortal words.

"Kristin is spitting!"

Liz and I both whipped around, and poor Kristin was spitting up everywhere.

We had just given her a sippy cup of cold milk that she was relishing and well…up that went and whatever else was in her tummy.

A decision had to be made : Do we clean up what we can and move forward, or stop and clean up now?

We decided to move forward. We cleaned up Kristin as best we could and just dealt with the odor in the minivan. As you can imagine, it wasn't the best smelling thing that ever happened in a Kia Sedona.

Katie was complaining about the smell, and our nephew was, well, he was downwind. But we were making progress, and finally we saw the exit for the Fairfield Inn. Just in time, too, because Katie really really really needed to go potty, she said.

It was tucked behind a Steak N Shake (mmmm) and we had to make a left hand turn after the exit. I was first in line, behind the white line, and in the cross street cars were turning left in front of me to get back on the interstate.

Well, this truck cuts the turn awfully close. My eyes got saucer huge, as did Liz's, as did our nephew's. We thought we were goners. Nothing like a truck taking off the front driver's side of your rented minivan when you have three grumpy tired people who actually see the hotel you are staying at, plus a child who needs to go potty AND a child that has spit up all over God's green earth.

But it missed us by inches. Whew.

Success! We get to the Fairfield Inn.

Uh, oh! Several cross country teams are staying there before they make the trip to Jefferson City for the state meet. One of the boy's teams bleached out their hair. That means lots of teenagers afoot. Great.

Double uh, oh! No business center, so no computer. Sigh.

Triple uh, oh! Kristin's 'incident' is worse than we thought. The car seat needs to be totally scrubbed.

Katie, the nephew and I retire to Steak N Shake (mmmm) while Liz commences to clean the baby and the car seat. I pick up something for her to eat on the way back. Needless to say, this does NOT help her stress level.

Also, the car seat still as an aroma, and now our bathroom has that same aroma.

After Katie and I went swimming, and Liz had time to chill a bit, it was time for bed.

Liz and I are both exhausted, yet Kristin will not sleep, and her yelping keeps Katie awake. Finally, after what seems like three days, the kidlets fall asleep and we do, too.

We have a breakfast and then get rolling towards Wichita. Late, of course, by about an hour, but roll out we did.

Our room was a disaster area, though, with spit up and diapers and all kinds of stuff lurking about. Whoever cleans it deserves a medal.

The rest of the trip to Wichita was pretty much a non-event. Well, except that I got the Sedona up to 90 on the Kansas Turnpike. Vroom! Oh, and you put Kristin in a booster seat in an Applebee's in suburban Kansas City, then everyone will stop and talk to her. (And Katie, too!)

Tomorrow, I'll recount the trip to Oklahoma for the scattering of the ashes, and then, over the weekend, it'll be the trip back, complete with a rant about planning and zoning (be warned!)


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