June 20, 2009: Joplin, MO to St. Louis

John here, as guest blogger.

We took no pictures today.  This should tell you something.  Our goal today was to cover the 275 or so miles from our hotel in Joplin to our hotel in St. Louis, the end.  Although the map showed Interstate 44 having stretches of green dots, we concluded that the definition of “scenic” must be diferrent in Missouri than it is in, say, Colorado or Utah.  Not to put down Missouri, just saying…

We encountered our lowest gas prices on the trip so far, $2.37 per gallon.  We understand that it’s over $3 a gallon back in California.  We wonder if this will get us Americans back on the conservation bandwagon.

We decided to eat lunch in Lebanon MO (many states seem to have cities named Lebanon; why should this be so?) at a restaurant called the Country Kitchen.  I know, I know, this is major rules violation, but it seemed clean and we didn’t want to press our luck given our recent experiences with non-fast-food lunches.  We order a concoction called something like “Grilled Chicken Cilantro Wrap”, without the cheese.  This was actually quite palatable, but, sans cheese, the wrapping had to be (unsuccessfully) accomplished via long toothpicks.  This was the only place I have ever encountered square pita.

For sides, I had a tasty 7-bean soup, but Mary persisted in having salad, which consisted of a bed of the obligatory brown-edged iceberg cleverly covered with a small amount of spring mix and tomato.  What’s with the need to serve old iceberg?

ELITIST RANT ALERT!!!!

What happens when nice folks from the heartland find themselves in California having to eat in a restaurant and seeing nothing familiar in the menu?  Oh, wait, there’s tuna sandwich!  I’ll order it!  And out comes some slices of seared sesame-crusted rare ahi tuna with garlic aioli and microgreens on unusual tasting bread?  Is this an epiphany or a disaster?  Or maybe a they could order a BLT, which arrives with a slice of this odd green slimy thing (the avocado) and again, a strange (but oddly tasty) lettuce.  What to make of this?

END OF RANT.

Well, here in St. Louis it’s HOT!  And even more HUMID!  Over the next few days, we’ll try to visit the Gateway Arch, the Annheuser-Busch Brewery (love those Clydesdales) and the St. Louis Zoo (do the names Marlon Perkins and Mutual of Omaha bring back memories?).

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