We have just completed the first day of our 4,000 mile driving extravaganza. We have stopped in St. Louis for the night, a very nice name for a city. There should be more cities named Louis, at least one in every state. And when will we finally have a Pope Louis? I digress… We saw a lot of concrete and asphalt today in various stages of disrepair. If Ike knew anything about the conditions of the highway system that was his brainchild, he’d be rolling over counterclockwise in his grave — though I guess he did steal the idea from the Germans. We have been stopped for over an hour and even after a “meeting” with Mr. Modelo, I am still vibrating.

The day started out exceptionally well. When I woke up, I realized I would be traveling without having to come into contact with anyone connected to the TSA. There are no rules about what you can’t carry on when you’re traveling by car. Meat cleavers, axes, knives, scissors, pool cues, and hunting rifles are all OK. So are liquids with a volume of more than four ounces. Thus, Mr. Modelo was free to ride right along next to me. I will note that we did not get too close, and we were not stopped by police. This new found freedom to carry on otherwise banned items has had a cathartic effect on me. What a great way to begin a long trip!

Missouri is an interesting state. There are many locations that are somehow linked to Sam Clemons/Mark Twain. So far, so good. It is also an attractive state. The rolling hills are extremely green at this time of the year. It makes you want to stop the car and roll around. Of course, this would be even more fun in the company of Mr. Modelo. However, there are some odd things here,including an infestation of fireworks stands, one for every block in every town, it seems.

My favorite name for a fireworks stand, and this name is found all over the state, is Pyro City. Now, think about that one for a moment. These stands are enormous and if one caught on fire it most certainly would be Pyro City. The cool thing about these stands is that they stock some really powerful stuff — items that are outlawed in other states. So, if you live in Nebraska and you want to impress your friends on the Fourth of July, hop in your car and drive 100 miles to Pyro City to secure some loud and colorful works. After all the “oohs” and “aahs,” your self esteem will rise. Pretty impressive, right?

I must go rest up for tomorrow. We heading to Memphis, one of those places where the Civil War is still being fought. Perhaps later on I’ll write about the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest that, until recently, was displayed in a downtown Memphis park.

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