Barber Trip 6: A Short Break, Then Home

I took advantage of Jayne and Dan’s gracious hospitality and spent three nights in Atlanta. I enjoyed a couple of nice dinners in the company of charming people, had a couple of much-needed long walks, and enjoyed not driving. I did laundry.

Over five days, I spent 28 hours driving on the highways and another four on the track. And the trip home will be another 27 hours. That’s a stupid amount of seat time.

Although I had no concrete plans for diversions on the trip home, I did have a couple of ideas. On last year’s abortive trip, a trip to Shiloh got scrubbed. But not being able to lock the car makes planning easier. I can’t count on finding another friendly groundskeeper, so diversions were off the menu.

I’m okay with that. My route would avoid interstates until I was a hundred miles from home, split nicely into three nine-hour days, and on two of the three days I gain an hour.


I went from Georgia to Alabama, then Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and, finally, Missouri. Outside of the towns, I could drive at a pace of my choosing, needing to pass only a handful of cars.

The rural South, by which I mean the backroads of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, is pretty dense with Confederate flags and Trump flags. Today I drove through a lot of country that has been celebrating insurrectionists for generations and is supporting an insurrectionist today.

At the hotel, I thought I was able to lock the car. I had it in a well-lighted spot in the front, but since it locked, I’d rather park in the back, where I could see it from my room. There’s a nice spot, right next to the light pole, in a single spot (as opposed to a duplex spot). An hour after parking it, I drove to get dinner. When I unlocked the car, it started beeping and it beeped until I hit the button again. At the restaurant, I tried to lock it, but it failed again. Okay, it’s fickle.

After dinner, I noticed that I had left my glasses case in the car. So when I stepped outside for a deep breath of relaxation, I grabbed the case and it locked again. Two out of three now!

My room is on the fourth floor. I’m parked in my single spot and there’s a big pickup that’s in the hotel side of his duplex spot, taking both sides. Another pickup pulls into the spot next to the other light pole, but his tailgate is way over the line of his other spot.

About thirty seconds after the couple in the recently arrived truck enter the building, my alarm goes off. Nobody was anywhere near the car. I was just looking at it. I didn’t know how long the alarm would sound, but I hustled out to the parking lot. When I unlocked it, it beeped until I hit the button again. So I’m back to Plan A, leaving it unlocked.

I’m in a La Quinta this time, instead of the usual dives. But even here I can’t win: the light over the sink flashes about once a second. And it flashes once more after you turn it off. Very annoying. The ice machine works.

Today, about the last thirty miles of road were part of my route on the way to Atlanta last year, but in the other direction. This is the short stretch through Illinois between bridges across the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Cool bridges.


The most enjoyable part of the drive was the first few hours, highlighted by my miles on MO 34. It’s a very nice Lotus Road. Twisty, up and down, left and right, mile after mile. If you’re passing through southeast Missouri, it’s worth considering. I enjoyed a different part of southern Missouri last trip. Looks like Lotus Roads are in abundance here.

I don’t recall seeing either a Confederate flag or a Trump flag today. Lots of signs for lots of gun stores, and nearly as many gun stores as churches.

I’m averaging over 35 mpg.

I was expecting southern Kansas to be much like northern Kansas. Not true. I prefer northern Kansas to southern Kansas. There is more traffic down here. Not so much traffic I couldn’t pick my pace, but I had to make quite a few passes.

In the parking lot at tonight’s motel, I met a bunch of college kids who were on their way to a rocket competition. Their rocket is about seven feet tall. They ran a separation test in the field next to the motel parking lot. It was successful. They didn’t launch it, just tested that the stages separated properly. I asked them if it was their moonshot. They laughed. One guy said it would reach about 15,000 feet. Another corrected him: it’ll go 5,000.

Dinner at Luigi’s. I had the cheese ravioli, a Peroni, and a chocolate cheesecake. It’s downtown. I was going to park in the adjacent lot, but it was metered. It helpfully told me I only needed to pay during the hours listed, but no hours were listed. It’s across the street from the police station, and there are police vehicles parked here. Not having any coins, and noticing that the spot right in front of the restaurant entrance was empty, I parked there. I got to watch people look at the car. I’m sad that people see her damaged like this.


I picked up a biscuit sandwich at the fast food joint next to the gas station. In the parking lot was a black pickup truck with a tinted back window. Written on the window in pink and pale blue in a woman’s handwriting, “Why do you support the rapist fraudster insurrectionist?” It might have been “we” instead of “you”. I was surprised to see it. On this trip, I’ve seen a lot of pro-Trump sentiment, nothing pro-Biden, and only this anti-Trump.

Kansas Route 96 isn’t quite arrow-straight and not quite billiard-table flat, but it’s not far off. It’s the antithesis of a Lotus Road. Kansas 96 turns into Colorado 96 at the border, then I pick up US 287 at Eads. 287 has a lot of truck traffic. Thankfully, there are a few passing lanes. I did pass a string of 4 rigs without a passing lane, but they were nose-to-tail.


I drove in eight states, covering 3,201 highway miles and 293 miles on track for a total of 3,494 miles. I now have 105,848 miles on the car. It had less than 17,000 when I bought it, so I’ve put about 89,000 miles on it. Roughly 20,000 of those miles are on these track-day road trips.

I enjoyed the trip despite the car getting backed into. I keep telling myself it could have happened at Safeway, but it didn’t.

Barber is a wonderful track on fantastic grounds with an impressive museum. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the back roads of America.

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