My chronicle of “The Wedding Trip” the other day was limited to photos. Fatigue piled on top of fatigue after the journey, when we needed to spend the next two days on The Mountain. Hell, as of this morning we hadn’t even unpacked.
Today, finally, we have a chance to recover, at least a little, and I have an opportunity to catch up. At random, then, from my notes…
We took two days for the outbound run to Ohio, logging exactly 600 miles on Tuesday and stopping for the night at a hotel in Richmond, Indiana. Wednesday we covered the last 172 miles at a more leisurely pace.
Our accommodations the next four nights were an Airbnb outside Logan, Ohio — unfancy but adequate, nothing like where we stayed at Flippin in June. But it had a couch, DishTV and a pleasant view from the back porch.
The pillows sucked.
We enjoyed a couple of memorable meals. The first, on Thursday, was at The Mine Tavern, a gritty little joint on the square in Nelsonville. The “Mine Burger” — two beef patties, salami, spicy mayo, American and pepper-jack cheese, grilled onions, all covered in Colby cheese — remains one of our all-time favorites.
The second, a “rehearsal dinner” arranged by Deb the next evening, was at Jack’s Steak House south of Logan. Deb ordered a 12-ounce ribeye steak, while I had “The Texas Jack” burger — pepper jack, bacon, onion rings, lettuce, tomato and mayo, drizzled in sriracha bourbon sauce. Not only was the food outstanding, the Jack’s staff handled our party of 30 with grace, efficiency and good humor.
If you’re ever in the Hocking Hills of Ohio, you owe yourself a visit to Jack’s Steak House. From atmosphere to service to fare, we can’t recommend the place highly enough.
The wedding itself? Nice setting. Very structured but (in some ways) quite informal. Ceremony followed by a canoe-and-kayak float down the Hocking. (We didn’t.) Reception in a picnic shelter.
Anyone involved who doesn’t say they’re relieved it’s over is lying. Deb and I came away glad that our own joyous occasion, now 16 years ago, was characterized by simplicity and humility.
A few hours into our drive toward Home on Sunday, we started doing some calculations. Though we’d planned to make it another two-day run, we got to wondering if maybe, just maybe, we could knock it out in one. We decided to wait ’til we’d cleared St. Louis before making the call.
It was a gorgeous day for a drive. Autumn’s colors were at their peak. And despite brutal wind out of the south — a steady 30mph with much higher gusts — we felt froggy enough to give it a shot.
I drove all but the last 35 miles. Once the sun went down, since my night vision is virtually nonexistent these days, I turned the wheel over to Deb. She shut off the SilverSilverado in Harrison at 7:30pm CDT — 755 miles in 11 hours 45 minutes of driving, 12 hours 30 minutes including stops.
Over six days we saw all kinds of weather. Temperatures ranged from mid-20s on the first day to near 80°F on the last. We hit snow in Indiana on Tuesday and rain in Ohio on Wednesday. The Hocking Hills got a hard frost Thursday morning.
The most we paid for gas was $3.949 in Indiana. Our least expensive fillup was $3.499 in Missouri, which is about what we’ve paid lately in northern Arkansas. We spent a total of $300 on gas and the truck got right at 20mpg, a number that would’ve been higher had we not relied on cruise control.
On principle, we didn’t stop in Illinois — not for fuel, not for snacks, not for bathroom breaks, not at all. Eastbound and westbound, we plowed straight on through the state.
Crossing the Mississippi from St. Louis into The Land of Lincoln on Tuesday, we were greeted immediately by a huge billboard glorifying the murder of children. “Welcome to Illinois,” it blared, “where you can get a safe, legal abortion.” This is a state that officially promotes infanticide.
Once out of urban sprawl, however, the highway entered the farmland and prairies of southern Illinois — Heartland populated by true Americans living in exile. It was at once refreshing and saddening, knowing that those good People are crushed under the boot-heel of progressives.
In sum, this was our kind of road trip. We exercised our trademark spontaneity, saw friends and family, sampled a bit of Roadside America (like Uranus Fudge Factory), ate very well (see above) and basked in the brilliant hues of fall in The American Midwest.
Scout and Dipstick were the perfect road warriors.
Now that it’s done, we’re thrilled to be back where we belong. Travel has its allure, but it’s damned good to be Home again.
It’s the 26th of October, 2022, which means that Deb and I are marking the 17th anniversary of our first date. Yeah, we celebrate everything.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.