Road trip

Oliver and Ashley

Instead of taking a short trip out of town to hide out in a motel and read this weekend, I wound up taking a 500-mile road trip to Illinois to hang out with my family and an old friend. That’s my little brother and his wife in the picture above.

I took I-44 to St. Louis and then followed Illinois 13 to Southern Illinois on the way home, with an overnight stop Friday at the Munger Moss Motel on Route 66 in Lebanon, Mo.

I had a nice visit with my family and spent some time at several of my old haunts, including the Makanda Boardwalk and Carbondale’s Longbranch Coffeehouse. My best friend from college used to have coffee with me at Longbranch all the time, so we decided to stop in for old times’ sake. The place has gotten all gentrified. I think I miss my gritty old rough-around-the-edges hangout, but it was good to see it’s more popular than ever. That’s the first time I can remember having to wait in line on a non-poetry-reading night. And school isn’t even in session right now, so obviously they’re doing something right.

Longbranch opened before the coffee fad found its way out of Seattle, and it’s been a Carbondale institution for the better end of 15 years. We won’t talk about how old that makes me feel….

We went and puttered around SIU for a little while. Morris Library is undergoing major renovations and evidently had part of one of its walls cave in during the remodeling project. They’ve stripped off the entire exterior except one doorway on the first floor. It looks like something out of Fallujah.

Wish I’d thought to bring the camera with me; I’d love to have a picture of the library looking so forlorn. I’m sure it will be amazing when they get it done. Hope they don’t throw out all the cool ’60s furniture that was in there. If they auction it off, I want some.

Coming back home, I took I-57 to Sikeston, Mo., and then picked up U.S. 60 to Afton. Did a tiny bit of Mother Roading from Afton to Vinita before latching onto the turnpike.

A few scenes from 60:




I think all three of these are from Sikeston. I know the first two are.

Poplar Bluff

I didn’t write things down like I should have, but I think this cool old theater is in Poplar Bluff.

Big Smith

This was in Willow Springs. I like it because it makes me think of my grandpa, who always wore Big Smith overalls.


Adaptive reuse of a drive-in somewhere west of Willow Springs. The marquee now advertises a flea market.


I don’t remember exactly where this was, but I want to say it was in Republic. I love that Deco lettering style.


The Sunset Drive-In, located in Aurora, Mo., had a line of cars waiting to get in this evening. It appears to be thriving. I’m always overjoyed to see a drive-in doing well.


And as usual, I had to try to bag a sunset for Brad. Still not as spectacular as the one I saw (but couldn’t shoot) in February, but those Parrish clouds demanded my attention this evening. I didn’t even notice that water in the lower right-hand corner when I was taking the picture, or I would have used it to better advantage.

Anyway, it was a good trip, but now I’m tired, and I still have a 2,000-word article I need to write up before I go to bed, so I’d better get offline.

Hope your weekend was good.



2 thoughts on “Road trip”

  1. It was great to see you again. We’re glad you enjoyed highway 60. We figured you would like the old neon and ghost signs. There’s a lot of pretty countryside down that way and the honeysuckle is blooming now so it should have been a fragrant route.

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