A couple of years ago, we started taking a new route to Illinois. We bypassed Iowa, Interstate 80 and its traffic for the soothing Route 36 with its similar speed limit but minus the screaming 18-wheelers, construction or detours.
Because of its tranquil ways, it does not offer the amenities of the interstate. If you have to pee you'd better do it at the gas station when we fill up as there are no rest stops. There also aren't any restaurants along the side of the road.........no Culver's, Taco Bell or Buffalo Wild Wings.
The lunchtime stopping point for us is in Hannibal, Missouri. Every time we've been there I must say out loud, "You know, this is where Mark Twain grew up," as if nobody remembers me saying the very same thing six months ago.
Hannibal has seen better days. It looks a bit run down, likely the result of a lousy tax base and a hit or miss tourist season.
When we stopped there last month, we took a chance on eating lunch at a bar. We walked into the dark place with the mounted deer heads on the walls and there was but one occupied table. Hardly a ringing endorsement.
We all ordered. Mark and Will got sandwiches, Mal and I split the burger. We got a few orders of fries because they were a buck apiece, and how big could they possibly be at that price? While we waited for our food we entertained ourselves reading the quotes of Hannibal's famous citizen on the walls while the t.v. blared The Talk with one of reality t.v.'s infamous citizen, Kris Jenner.
What in the world would Mark Twain think of somebody like her?
We got mounds of fries and the burger was the best I'd ever eaten. I couldn't figure out what made it so good and so I asked the waitress if there was some kind of secret. Worcestershire sauce brushed on the patty and lots of seasonings. We all ate for thirty bucks, left a big tip for our lonely waitress and headed to the car.
One last gaze of the Mississippi River with a movie reel in my head of days long gone, and then we drove out of Hannibal until the next time.
hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some
corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens—there
ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right—and whilst
I eat my supper we talked and had a good time...."