I was able to do what I wanted, and crossed over into Ohio before I talked to Lisa that morning. Moving off the eastern seaboard and into the Midwest made me feel like I was really on my way!
I lived in Cincinnati for a few years in the 1990's, and briefly thought about taking a slight detour, but as much as I would've liked to have gotten some Skyline chili and Graeters ice cream, I mostly wanted to get to California already.
So I continued heading west.
I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone, but it seemed like I spent the longest part of my journey that day driving across Indiana. I'm sure that was just in my head, and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to Indianans. Maybe I was just spoiled by waking up in Pennsylvania, and quickly going in and out of West Virginia, then talking to Lisa as I made my way across Ohio.
Next was Illinois, and I semi-pondered another detour. I really love Chicago, and would love to have stopped to see the sites. But Chicago was WAY off in the other direction. It would easily have added an extra day to my trip. And I was much too anxious to get to my new life.
I didn't really have that long to think about it, as I wasn't traveling across that much of Illinois.
Found my hotel, just west of the city, and then took some time for a treat. I didn't want to stay out late, going to one of St. Louis' famous blues clubs. Well, I did, but I knew it would be tough to get going early the next morning if I did.
But I certainly wasn't going to stop in St. Louis and not have ribs!
The night before, in Pennsylvania, when I had gotten online to find a hotel, I also looked up ribs. The internet informed me that one of the best places in St. Louis was a barbecue joint called Charlotte's Rib (named for a local TV celebrity). I was glad I did the research, as I heard someone asking the guy at the front desk for suggestions, and he told them he didn't know as he wasn't from the area, so there wouldn't have been any help there.
I admit I had misgivings when I drove into the strip mall parking lot. It seemed out of the way, and a little too ordinary. I mean, I kind of expected more from one of the best rib places in St. Louis. Something more ostentatious. Maybe with a giant pig out front.
I needn't have worried.
The ribs were truly outstanding, and the seasoned fries were delicious, yet unlike any I'd ever had (and almost anyone can tell that I've had plenty).
I found my way back to the hotel, booked my next stop and said goodnight to Lisa. I was now half a country closer!
Seems like I should have been listening to the blues on the way to St. Louis, but one of my most vivid memories of this leg of the trip is crossing a bridge in West Virginia, marveling at the spectacular display nature was providing me, and hearing "Telegraph Road" coming out of my car's speakers. I may very well be the only person who connects Dire Straits to West Virginia.