benton, arkansas to east st louis, illinois
19.03.2010 - 19.03.2010 66 °F
today was not my day. it started out pretty well, slept in a little, had tasty, tasty breakfast at waffle house, hit the road. the next two hundred or so miles were fairly inconsequential – let’s just say they don’t call it the plains for nothin’. then, disaster hits.
i pulled over to fill the tank and take a break from the monotony. what i got was a whole lot of misery. somewhere between refueling and relaxing, i was hit with a migraine. i should know better than to have waffles for breakfast. what’s worse is i had run out of my migraine meds two states ago and hadn’t seen a cvs since. apparently they just don’t exist in the middle of nowhere. who knew.
so i call mom, thinking she can make some google map magic happen. unfortunately for me, you can lead a mom to google but you can’t make her search, fruitfully at least. the closest cvs she could find was all the way in st. louis, another 200+ miles away (and 100 or so miles out of my way). ugh. hoping for the best, i hit the first drugstore i see thinking maybe they can transfer the ‘script and save my day. not so much. they would have to call the pharmacy in california and fax papers back and forth and so on and so on giving me two choices: stay the night in BFE, Arkansas or suck it up and keep going.
i soldier on, cracking the window for fresh air, donning the sunglasses to block the light and turning the mp3 player to ‘awesome’. this works for about 30 miles. that’s when the mp3 player died. crap. pulling into a truck stop, i come up with a backup plan. i’ll fire up the laptop, play my audio book and charge the mp3 player at the same time. when the laptop dies, i’ll switch back to the music. brilliant.
fighting nausea and praying for the damn sun to set already, i get back on the highway. the audio book is doing an alright job keeping me distracted, but the pain is just getting worse as i go on. how the hell am i going to make it another 170 miles? taking breaks often and pulling all the tricks out of my bag, i creep along counting the miles until salvation.
100 miles from st louis, the computer’s battery dies. hmmph. that was quick. switch back to the music. 10 miles later, the player freezes. really? the only thing to do when this happens is to let the battery drain until all the way dead, then re-charge and pray. now i’m stuck without music, without audio, with nothing but the wind to fill my ears.
starting to go crazy, i pull into a restaurant thinking i maybe can charge the computer while i eat. pizza buffet, perfect – it’ll be hot, greasy and chock full of protein. bracing myself for the bright lights, i head on in and grab a table and a plate. my good luck doesn’t last (of course) for not only do they not have an outlet free, but i’m so sick that i can’t drink the drink i ordered much less eat the food i asked selected. frustrated and exhausted, i tear up. embarrassed, i lose control of my tears. seriously? the waitresses take pity on me and tear up my bill. realising that i am making the other guests uncomfortable, i pull myself together, throw a tip on the table and go out to the car. 80 miles to go.
every exit presents a choice: seek shelter, hoping sleep will cure me or keep going toward the sure-fire solution awaiting me in st louis. somehow, one exit at a time, i make it. thank the gods. breeze in, breeze out. elated, i head in search of the hotel my sister was nice enough to find for me. i find myself winding through an abandoned industrial area, the type of setting all good horror movie directors fantasize about. maybe i should keep going, the headache’s not so bad… but i’ve already gone over 400 miles, half of which have been hell. talking to myself, the other cars and the empty streets makes me realize that when left to my own devices, i sound like a crazy person. yep, sleep is definitely in order. where was that motel, again? right by the waffle house, of course. perfect.
ps: hit the 3,000 mile mark for the trip as i was passing over the mississippi.