The sleeping in the car thing actually worked out pretty well, I got a good night sleep and woke up early and a ready to roll. The good nights sleep was at least partially due to the quilt my Mom gave me for my birthday when I was in North Carolina (thanks Mom).
Got back on the road and almost immediately left the freeway and headed north into Alabama. The goal, was of course the town of Jachin Alabama.
I found it after only having to back track once. Jachin Alabama can only be described as “there”, if you use “there” very loosely.
At first I thought the whole town was this abandoned gas station.
Then I found a cemetery, which was almost entirely made up of 3 families, each with their own little sections. The one thing it confirmed was that the town was probably started my Masons (something I suspect, the mason’s probably being the most likey group to use the name Jachin for a town).
Then I found the post office. I was run by a very nice and helpfully lady, who seemed very surprised to have someone she didn’t recognize walk in. As a souvenir I mailed a letter to my self. It didn’t look like I was going to find a gift shop in Jachin.
The other part of the building the post office was in looked like the office for a lumber operation that was going on across the road. That must be the areas biggest business, or this is just the time of year for it. I passed dozens of trunks hauling cut trees.
Perhaps the most telling moment of just what sort of a town Jachin is, was when I asked one of the guys coming out of the office if there were any good place to eat around here. He laughed, and said, my best bet was a town called Butler (about 10 miles away).
Anyway, it was sad to see the Jachin Grocery, closed and in such rough shape, but the whole area was very nice, even with the logging. Lots of hills, pine trees, cows and red dirt.
I got back on the road, cross over into Mississippi and over lunch I got the news I had expected:
LAUNCH UPDATE: Thursday, Nov. 4 at 2:12 pm.
Launch of space shuttle Discovery is now targeted for Friday, November
5 at 3:04 p.m. ET. Existing STS-133 launch tickets and vehicle
placards remain valid for the launch attempt on Friday, November 5.
PLEASE NOTE ARRIVAL TIMES: For Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
and NASA Causeway launch ticket holders, please arrive one and a half
hours earlier than the time originally listed on your placard. For
Astronaut Hall of Fame ticket holders, please arrive no later than
Mission managers will meet at 5:00 a.m. Friday to evaluate weather
conditions for fueling of the external tank.
Please check back for updates to the launch status.
Bottom line, not trying to wait for the shuttle another day or two was right thing to do, leaving Florida on Friday afternoon, and trying to make it back to Minnesota for work on Monday would have been brutal.
After cutting across Mississippi I went through Memphis and then into Arkansas. My goal for the night was my friend’s Isaac and Ally’s place in a town called Meta, MO. Once I got past Joesboro, AK, I lost the data service on my cell phone which I was using to do all my navigation. This was something I probably should have expected, going into the Ozarks, but it hadn’t occurred to me. For a while I was worried, the route though the mountains looks complicated when I had glanced at it over lunch. Suddenly it occurred to me I could stop at a gas station and buy a “map”. That almost got me there, but Meta was too small a town to show up on the Missouri map, so I had to call Isaac and just head for the closest town that was on the map.
The drive through the Ozarks was great. It actually did not turn out to be that difficult of a route to follow and the roads were in great condition. It was dark, so I did not get much for nice views, but all the hills and curves were a lot of fun. Especially when I got close to Meta and got off the main highway. Those roads got really crazy. It was like being on a roller coaster. Isaac told me later, that it doesn’t take much bad winter weather to close down the roads. I kept thinking the 50mph speed limit on some of the turns (normally 65) sounded more like dares then speed limits.
On US-63 near the Arkansas/Missouri border Carol chalked up her first confirmed kill. She hit a deer a couple of years ago that probably died, but it was just a glancing blow so it’s possible it survived. This was a raccoon. I remember thinking:
“That’s strange, there’s a reflector in the middle of my lane.”
”Oh wait, it’s two reflectors.”
”Oh, it’s a raccoon. Come on, move it buddy I’m not going to swerve for you.”
For some reason in the last few seconds before impact I named him Robby. I’m afraid Robby the raccoon was not very alert, smart or fast. So I figure this was probably about as good an ending as Robby could have hoped for. I think it would have been pretty painless, The initial bumper would have render him unconscious, then the second, more squishy sounding bump less then a second later somewhere under Carol would have ensured the end of his suffering.