One weekend – four states

I’ve been on a road trip this weekend. I took Friday off work and drove to visit my friend near Springfield, Missouri.  It was a gorgeous drive, but there isn’t much to see in the way of cities or towns during the entire five hour drive, but it’s beautiful scenery!  For the first hour of the drive is almost the only civilization until about the four hour mark of my drive…so for three hours the pictures you see is what I’m driving through.  Until I get to Mountain View, and there you’ll find what is (maybe?) the last remaining regular Walmart in the entire world.  I always get an enormous kick out of stopping there.  It feels like I’m stepping into a town that’s stuck in the 80’s.  It was such a beautiful day for a drive and along with the new music on my iPod I think I could have driven the rest of the way across the country.  As I was driving, I was thinking of how someday I’d like to keep driving for another hour and visit Oklahoma and Kansas – just to say I’d been there.  I mentioned this to my friend and she was like “Let’s do that tomorrow!” Yay for adventurous friends!!  So we looked online to see where we could stop and much to our amazing surprise we found a casino that sits in three states!! Guess what casinos have?  Amazing buffets. (Enjoy my food pictures from the buffet!) So we left her two year old behind, brought the three month old with us, and off we went.  The baby slept 98% of the time, so he’s a great road trip partner.  We passed the exit for the Casino and thought we’d just turn around at the next exit.  Once Oklahoma gets ahold of you, they don’t want to let you go.  It was another 20 miles into Oklahoma before we were able to turn around – and that was at a toll road.  We pull up to the toll road and say to the lady “We’re just turning around, do we have to pay?” she said “It’ll just be $1.25” So we paid, and turned around – having to go back through her line on the other side.  It’s literally 45 seconds later and she sticks her head out the window and says “That’ll be $1.25” I say “But…I just paid you…” she said “It’s $1.25” So Oklahoma doesn’t want you to leave, and when they do let you go – they act like they’ve never seen you before and charge you twice.  The casino we ate lunch in was SO great.  I’m a big fan of casino buffets because they generally have many different types of food – Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Southern…it’s a chubby girl’s dream.  The restaurant portion was in Oklahoma and the parking lot was Kansas.  But just knowing I was in Kansas wasn’t enough – I needed a picture of the sign.  So we drove just past the casino and found the “welcome to Kansas” sign.  Just past the sign was a “gentlemen’s club” that I choose to turn around in.  Big day for the three month old – casino and a gentlemen’s club.  He thinks I’m the coolest.

On our way back to Springfield we decided to stop in Joplin, Missouri.  The EF5 tornado that ripped through the city killing 162 people was 13 months ago – yet we were stunned at how much damage there was.  We had found out from friends who assisted in the cleanup which area was hardest hit and which area that the television show Extreme Home Makeovers had visited and built seven homes on the same street.  In some of the pictures you can see new buildings being constructed with the damaged buildings in the background.  The large building in the pictures is their hospital.  As you can see – it’s standing, but that’s about it.  All of it’s insides are blown completely out.  It was quite an eerie feeling to be on that street and still realizing how much devastation is here after 13 months…what was it like when it happened?  I’ve always had an appreciation for the power of tornadoes, but visiting Joplin reinforced it. The picture of the row of houses, the pink and white house, and the lime green door house are Extreme Home Makeover houses.  The screen shot of a map is a satellite image of the street we were on.  Somebody had asked us how to get to that area and I decided to do a screen shot of the map and text it to them.  I was stunned to realize the image was post-tornado.  You can tell the entire neighborhood was leveled.

Then there’s a shot of a beautiful sunset in Springfield and my pizza from Old Chicago…that was a delicious slice of pizza!

I still have a 1/2 day left here in Missouri, so anything could still happen…if it does, I’ll tell about it when I get home 🙂

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