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10/09/2003: Day 1: Departure
A deep and heavy overcast began to leaked this morning. It rained.

I spent the early hours running out in periods of waning rain to put away yard tools and to load the car. It was warm for October, so a t-shirt, slacks, and Birkenstocks were adequate cover. I figured that they would dry off in the car once we were on the way.

The first hour was hard driving in hard rain, but beautiful Autumn hues shown wetly among waning green as I piloted the car out of the greater St. Louis area. There was a gap in the rain at Columbia, MO. It seemed to be letting up. On I-70 at mile 63: A Budweiser truck was overturned on the shoulder. A bucket brigade was transferring 12-packs into a replacement truck.

I was amused by the Auto-sinks in MO rest areas on I-70. Stick your hands in the hole, and it shoots soap, then water, then hot air at them.

At the rest area north of Kansas City, Missouri on I-29, we finally had afternoon sun and blinding blue sky. I took my first picture on the trip: Dandelions.
A Dandelion in western Missouri
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Semi-dressed for Halloween. See the spiders?
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We got to Council Bluffs, Iowa at about 7:00 pm. We drove around in the dark and unfamiliar town till 9:00 looking for a hotel. We were misdirected to the first one, and it turned out to be crummy. We made one wrong turn, and ended up in the heart of downtown Omaha, Nebraska in the flood of pedestrians flowing to the Fleetwood Mac concert. Karen made a clever one-way-street sort of U-turn and we were back in Iowa rather quickly. We ended up at the 4th place we tried, the American Inn, where the truckers stay just off the interstate and near the Bluff Run casino. This non-smoking room smelled of old smoke & the bathroom smelled of urine. Not too strongly, so we adjusted.

I collapsed on the bed & KJ fed me Brie & oysters on Red Oval Stoned Wheat crackers as I lay there. Now that is service!
Next: Day 2: Westward to the Badlands

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