My wife and I made a dash down to Paducah, Kentucky over the long weekend (beginning on Thursday — gotta use up the vacation days or lose them!) to see my mother, who is not well. We had gotten dire reports from my aunt about my mother’s condition, but when we got there, my mother was doing much better, and the prognosis from various doctors had improved significantly. She even went out to dinner with us, which was in high contrast to what we’d heard about her in the weeks before our visit.
The trek from Kansas City to Paducah is seven hours of hard driving. Add to that nearly an hour more because we had to take the dogs (Flike and Queequeg) to their kennel in rural suburban Kansas City before leaving. The drive to Paducah is tedious, leavened only by living within my mind as the miles passed. (I pretended I was running a marathon. I reviewed my stories. I made small talk. We had two collections of short stories as audio books to listen to, but we never used them.)
Our visit involved mostly sitting around, which is about the best my mother could manage, but I did get in a nice nap on Friday afternoon. (After sleeping 11 hours on Thursday night, which is completely unlike me.) Our plan was to stay until Sunday morning, but the weather in St. Louis (though which we would pass) and Kansas City was getting uglier, with reports of thousands of traffic accidents. On Friday evening, we decided to leave a day early with the hope of beating the weather or, at the worst, spending the night in some town betwixt there and here as we collected our courage to finish the miles on Sunday.
Saturday dawned in Paducah at 63 degrees. (I had considered a pre-dawn run but hadn’t brought reflective gear or my head lamp.) It was overcast, and rain threatened, but this was perfect driving weather. Because of the reports of the conditions in St. Louis, we chose to take the southern route home, crossing Missouri through the Ozark Mountains and then scooting up the western side of the state to Kansas City. The temperature fell throughout the day, and by the time we got to Springfield, Missouri (about 5 hours in), we were driving in freezing temperatures, with some precipitation spitting at us. I kept expecting the highway to be closed since the reports we could get on our phones said parts of the interstate were shut down. Yet on we drove. I expected each next burg sizeable enuf to have a motel to be the end of our journey for the day, but the highway continued to be clear, dry, and open, so we pushed on. The closer we got to Kansas City, the more certain I was that we would be sleeping in our own bed that night, and that our dogs would be sleeping in it with us.
Within about 30 miles of home, my wife told her phone to find us a route to the kennel where the dogs were languishing. This route took us down many two-lane country roads, but all of them were open and passable. We paid the ransom on the dogs and then made our way home without incident.
I understand there were 1,500+ traffic accidents in Kansas City over the weekend of our return. We didn’t find any conditions that would have suggested that, but I suspect we’d arrived after the (socialist) road crews had done their work.
So the long weekend adventure was done. I did my dutiful son obligations (and my mother has been doing well since the visit) and I covered 500+ miles twice in the trusty Honda. Now I am home, desperately trying to get the house in order and more or less clean enuf for the arrival of all of my children, their spouses/girlfriends, and their offspring for the holidays. The forecast for Christmas Day is 63 degrees. I wish I was going to be at my cabin.