100 miles from Iowa City, and the tidings were grim.
"Hey, I'm a friend of--"
"My name's Matt, I'm calling for--"
"I can't hear you."
"I was--can you hear me?"
"Yeah. Who is this?"
"My name's Matt, I'm on my way from--"
"Ohh, yeah. Yeah. Call back when you're closer."
We did, to little improvement. The place of our first rest was filled with silently smoldering angry eyes, inadequate jukeboxes, and one-way streets with no exits. After a short conference we opted for further nighttime driving and unseen campgrounds. Apologies were offered on both sides, and promises made to do better on the other side of the adventure. That particular outcome remains a mystery.
We drove on, across Iowa and past Des Moines (DES moe-EE-nez). We consulted our handy atlas, easily the handiest atlas I've ever known, and we spied a campground not too far from the highway. Our sleepy destination: Winterset, Iowa, birthplace of John Wayne. Time: 4AM. We set up camp in the drizzling rain, in the dark, on a hill, one campsite removed from what looked to be a friendly biker who was pulling an impressive wagon behind him. We were awake again by 8AM, our tent leaking and wet, our sleeping bags a little damp. We drove on.
The rest of the day--a solid 12 hours' drive--took us out of Iowa (not as kind to us as Wisconsin, by far), through a corner of Missouri (where Kansas City was found to be a dreary-looking place, akin to Cincinnati in its grays and browns, though occasionally capable of producing impressively pointy buildings:
), and across the length of Kansas before the rain found us again. Rain, you ask? Rain! Sheets of it, mounds of it, jars full of it, pounding down on us as we raced across the plains. We stopped, twice, and us!, brave exploreres that we were, to let the rain pass us by.
When we at last arrived in Oklahoma City, where we were greeted by our ally Coach Carter, we were tired and eager to shower. Coach Carter welcomed us, offered us food, gave us knives.
Knives?! Ah, dear reader, have faith; all will be explained.
Next: my horsey knife is laughed at.