Barber Trip 3: Insecurity

Today’s diversion is a visit to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. It doesn’t open until 9:00, so I could sleep in a little.

The free breakfast cost too much. Yesterday, at the bad motel, at least I got a bagel with cream cheese. This morning, no such luck. My choices were cold cereal or yogurt with lots of sugar. I tried the biscuits and sausage gravy. The biscuits were hard. The sausage gravy may have been vegan. After two bites, I tossed it. The woman at the next table made eye contact with me, chuckled, and nodded.

After the non-breakfast I headed out, stopping to fill the tank on my way to the museum. I got there just as the doors opened. There was just one problem, though: I couldn’t lock the car. It acted like it locked, it made the right noises in the right sequence, but after a few seconds, the alarm gave a steady beep. I’m pretty sure that’s what it does if I try to lock it with the boot open, or a door. I opened and closed the doors and boot lid and tried again with the same result.

That’s just great. I have the passenger seat and footwell filled with stuff including a laptop, some tools, and all the cameras. In theory, I could repack the car to have the valuables in the boot, but something will still be in the unlocked cabin. When I’m just driving around town, I almost never lock it, as I often have the top off, and I seldom carry anything. But road trips are a different kettle of fish.

After my third unsuccessful round of opening and closing the doors and boot lid, one of the groundskeepers rolled up in his cart. He asked the usual questions about the car, including “What kind of car is it?”. He was not the first I’ve talked to on this trip who’d never heard of Lotus and would not be the last. I answered all his questions, then told him that I was having trouble locking it.

He said, “Go visit the museum. I’m going to be working right over here all morning cleaning up from the storm. I’ll keep an eye on it.” That was very kind of him. I have a blue tarp that I use to keep everything on the passenger side covered up.

I have no idea why it’s failing. One possibility is damage from the collision. I don’t think that’s the case, but it’s possible. Another is something’s wet. I drove through 3 hours of rain, and it rained most of the night, so who knows? My tape job is holding up to the weather, still looking good. I think I have enough tape left to redo it if I have to.

The Clinton Museum is the largest of the National Archives Presidential Museums. At least, according to the Clinton Museum folks. They admit that Reagan’s is bigger if you include the hanger that holds Air Force One and Marine 1. Not that it matters who’s is bigger.

The grounds here are pretty nice, but the rain had started up again so I didn’t wander around. One of the things a President has to do these days when he gets the job is to decide where he’s going to be buried. While I was looking out an upper-story window at the grounds, a worker pointed out where Bill and Hillary will reside after shuffling off this mortal coil.

When I visit these Presidential museums, I always look for a life-sized statue so I can get a selfie. Ike was on a pedestal, and I figured it would be poor form to climb it for a photo. There is no statue of Clinton here.

The price I paid for going to the museum was having to trade some back roads for interstate. My route started with sixty miles of interstate and ended with another hundred and fifty, making it just a tad over half the total mileage. Had I taken interstates the whole way, I’d have saved a few minutes but gone farther, going through Memphis. The middle section took me through the backwoods of Mississippi.

It was still raining when I got off the superslab. The first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t nearly as much standing water as on the interstate. The two-lane roads are crowned much better, with water flowing from the middle out. Much better drainage than the interstate. And with so much less traffic, I wasn’t constantly driving through somebody else’s spray.

I crossed the Mississippi River on US 49, over an impressive old girder bridge. I’d have loved to have stuck the 360 camera out the window, but it was raining. Too, the road on the bridge is in rough shape. It was definitely two-hands-on-the-wheel rough.

Just as on many of my other trips, I saw quite a few flooded fields. Is it always flooding somewhere in the Midwest when I’m driving through, or is it just where I go?

I was on a mix of roads, from four-lane divided highway down to a stretch of state highway with neither speed limit signs nor a centerline. Once the rain stopped, it was a pleasant drive.

This narrowest, least-traveled road alternated between small cultivated fields and stands of trees. There were quite a few run-down, abandoned-looking shacks along the road. Where the road went through the woods, the trees made an archway over the road. In one place where trees arched the road, I spotted a doll hanging in a tree, lynched. Right above my head. Maybe two feet tall. I couldn’t tell if the doll was black. I have a guess based on nothing more than stereotypes.

I was surprised at the lack of restaurants on my backroads drive. I had the same thing last year in Missouri, but I was on a number of county roads. Today, I was on state routes and US highways – no county roads. I was in this foodless zone from about eleven to after two. Maybe I was still feeling good from last night’s steak, but I wasn’t particularly hungry for any interstate fast food. I powered on to the motel.

The last two hours of the drive were dry. I basically ran a 75-mile-an-hour blow-dryer on the car for two hours. I still can’t lock the car. This does not bother me at all until my return trip. But I don’t think I’m comfortable leaving everything in an unlocked car while I wander around the Shiloh battlefield and Indian mounds. I doubt I’ll be able to count on the kindness of groundskeepers to keep an eye on my car. Driving back with no diversions means I’d be able to trade more interstate for back roads.

Dinner was at a little Mexican place next to the motel. It’s in a former fast-food building. There’s parallel parking where the drive-thru was. The place was busy, and it seemed like everybody knew each other. I had a chimichanga and a beer.

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