I leave Ray’s town on an appropriately wet Monday to get back on the road. Before departing, we three eat a last breakfast at the Sunrise Diner. Afterwards, Ray takes me to an auto-parts store in depressed Springfield for oil. This case of oil shall be my totem to get me across the country.
I hit Indianapolis readily and think I’m almost to my evening destination of St. Louis, yet a huge swath of Illinois buts in between Indiana and Missouri. Winds blow fiercely down the highway. Lighting strikes the horizon. I motor along, listening to a reassuring book on CD, Tom Wolfe’s latest about Miami. It’s good. I skip lunch and eat sunflower seeds.
Mid-afternoon, I cross the mighty Mississippi, wave at the St. Louis arch, and drive onward into the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfied.
Ten years ago, I worked in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, with a Dutch guy named Rene. He married a Dutch girl named Anouk. Trading rainy polder for sunny surf, the two of them moved into the palm trees of San Diego. They have two kids named Quentin and Jasmine.
Recently their family changed tropical San Diego for suburban St. Louis. Anouk took a biochemistry job at Pfizer that she could not refuse. I was shocked to find the Dutch in Missouri, but they like the ample living and open spaces. They kindly host me for two nights and a day.