Why hello, friends of the internet! I am back home from my trip and happily ensconced on the couch with a dog and a blanket and a laptop. I’m full of that pleasant feeling that follows a great trip when you are also glad to be home (but still in denial about the upcoming work week).
We had a lovely time in Missouri, presenting and listening to papers, checking out the town, and eating and drinking our way through the weekend. You know, business as usual! While my drive to Mississippi was (as usual) peppered with insane thunderstorms, I was treated to this gorgeous sunset on the way there, and weather throughout the rest of the trip was picture perfect.
On the second leg of the trip, from Mississippi to Missouri, we did encounter some strangeness. First of all, we stopped at the biggest roadside convenience store I have ever seen — and all of their bathrooms were out of order. ALL of them. Really? At least they had this entertaining display of knives.
We were told that a new rest stop was being built nearby, however, “over by the tire fire.” And while a future rest stop not yet in existence was of no real help to us, we did indeed pass by a huge tire fire a couple of miles up the road!
Once safely arrived in Cape Girardeau, however, everything went smoothly. I had to get in a long run while we were there, and I managed to find myself on a nice long, paved running trail through a park and nature conservation area. We don’t have anything that nice here in Auburn, so I enjoyed the area quite a bit. I got to see some real fall leaves for the first time this year, and I also was treated to the sun rising over the frosty, misty grass.
As I entered the eerily quiet woods, a huge, hulking shape moved quickly deeper into the trees just ahead of me. A mugger or rapist, I thought, surely. Or, wait. It was way too huge to be human. It was practically the size of an elephant. It turned out to be an enormous buck, who retreated so fast I barely had time for my eyes to catch him before he was gone. Incredible.
Later that day, when our conference panels were done, we explored the town a little bit, driving over this big suspension bridge, across the Mississippi River and into Illinois. On the other side of the river all we found was a long, desolate stretch of highway with nothing on it save a strip club called “The Pony” and perhaps some car title loan places off in the distance. We quickly turned around and headed back to the cute side of the river.
The downtown area was charming and, with the exception of some shuttered businesses, a good place to check out small shops and cafés. One coffee shop there, I hate to tell you, had the only bad service in the entire town. While literally every single other person we encountered was kind, warm, and helpful, the people at this place were grouchy, slamming dishes and doors, and cursing in front of customers. Not a great business strategy! We never should have gone back there. (Dun dun DUNNNNN.)
But before we got back to the coffee shop of doom, we spent the rest of the afternoon admiring the waterfront, the Mighty Mississip’, and the complimentary drinks and snacks at the hotel bar’s happy hour. That’s right, y’all: FREE WINE. We were staying at a Drury Lodge, which, despite the unfortunate sounding name and the slightly creepy resemblance to The Overlook Hotel in The Shining, had the best service ever and a generous breakfast buffet in addition to the free happy hour drinks and snacks. I definitely recommend it for budget travelers who like free food. (Let’s face it, who among us does not fit into this category?)
Later, sushi dinner was had. Once again, an extremely reasonably priced place with just stellar service. Aside from the employees of this one coffee shop, the people of Cape Girardeau are some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered. We all noticed it. If life ever takes you there, you’ll see what I mean.
Look, I know this recap is getting long, but I still have to tell you what happened at the coffee shop the last day. We never would have gone back there if we didn’t suspect that Clarabella might have left a sweater behind the day before. So we went back to check if it was there and to grab some coffee for the road. No sweater. And apparently the grumpy girl working the counter (same girl as the previous day) thought C asked about a “bracelet” when she said “gray sweater.” Get your ears checked!
So. I ordered a soy latte with caramel, and, yeah, I am pretty sure that the mean counter girl gave me regular milk. Which I have not had in over two years now. And which I would probably never notice if it’s mixed with coffee and flavoring. And which made me feel AWFUL for the rest of the day. Sure, maybe my awful feeling stemmed from the large amount of wine I had the night before (free, cheap wine), but I didn’t feel bad at all until I finished that latte. The world may never know, but I know who I think is to blame: mean coffee shop girl.
You’ll be happy to know that I seem to have made a full recovery. In spite of the knives, the tire fires, and the dairy poisoning cruelly inflicted on me, I give the town of Cape Girardeau (apparently pronounced “Cape Gerardo,” as opposed to French style) a gold star. The university put on a good conference, but mostly it was a great place to relax and have fun with my friends — and on the cheap, too. Missouri, I think I like your style.