Road Tripping: St. Louis Blues

Part 6 of a series. Road Tripping

Destination: St. Louis, Missouri (38° 38’ 49” N  90° 13’ 29” W)

Origination: Manhattan, Kansas (39° 11’ 0” N  96° 34’ 18” W)

Traveling Party: Jennifer, Chad

Date: August 1993

My little brother was my sounding board during my college years. He talked me down after many a fight with my mom, and most of all was just there to listen. When he graduated from high school and went off to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, it was tough on me. I’m sure he would be swift to point out that it was a hell of a lot tougher on him, but I missed not being able to pick up the phone and talk to him. Phone calls at the Academy were not easy. There were two house phones in his wing. They were always busy. When you finally did get through, the cadet manning the phones would have to track him down. Seriously, the early 90’s, how did we all survive?

Chad and I usually took a trip together once or twice a year. Maybe to a Kansas City Royals game, I visited him several times in Colorado. Our shared dream at the time was to visit every Major League Baseball stadium. So one summer we decided to knock St. Louis off the list.

I really don’t recall a lot about that trip, other than we hit the major tourist spots like the Gateway Arch, and sat behind the pretty red geraniums in the outfield at Busch Stadium. The Fabulous Thunderbirds were playing at some free outdoor festival downtown one night, and we went to a lame Michael J. Fox movie, (Life With Mikey, maybe?) at a very, shall we say, urban theater downtown where we weren’t quite used to people talking back at the screen.

The one thing I remember vividly is when Chad was pulled over by the Missouri Highway Patrol. We’d just spent an overcast, yet ridiculously hot and humid day at Six Flags St. Louis. Chad was at the con, and was maneuvering in and out of traffic at slightly less than warp speed. A trooper rather aggressively pulled him over. Before we’d gone into Six Flags, Chad had put his wallet under the passenger seat after taking cash out of it. So naïve kids that we were, we thought nothing of him leaning down to retrieve it to get his license.

The next thing we knew Officer Tackleberry was at our window, about to draw his weapon, and shouted, “Whatchoo reachin’ for, BOY?”

Chad threw up his hands and tried to explain what he was doing, which resulted in a stern lecture. This was before he even launched into the traffic infractions he was concerned about, which were not particularly egregious. “YOO were in the ULTRA fast lane,” he said, with much more drama than necessary, “and then crossed ALL the way over to the slow lane.”

After the third degree about where we were from, what we were doing in Missouri, and who we were, Chad showed him his military ID, and he finally settled down a bit. But not before giving Chad a lecture about how the powers that be at the Academy would not look to kindly on this type of rogue behavior. He finally wrote out the damn ticket and let him go with a citation that allowed Chad to pay a fine by mail, rather than require him to show up in court, which Tack reminded us several times was within his power to do.

On our way home, we stopped at our favorite amusement park, Worlds of Fun, in Kansas City. We paid the twilight admission fee and got full use of the park with barely anyone there. We hit all the roller coasters, riding each of them multiple times in a row. When we tried to ride the Timber Wolf a second time, I hopped over a gate (I didn’t cut in line, just didn’t see the point of weaving in and out of stiles when there was no one there), and got called out over the megaphone and sent to the back of the line like a grade schooler.

Neither the Highway Patrol nor the Timber Wolf incident seem like anything that funny now, but Chad and I laughed ourselves stupid over both of them, particularly in line after I did my walk of shame back through the gates to catch up to Chad. When the two of us are together, it doesn’t take much to set us off into a laughing frenzy. All I know is that day I laughed so hard that I cried and wet myself, my sides hurt, I couldn’t breathe, AND I rolled on the floor. All quite literally. Best end of a road trip ever.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

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