Greetings from Gladstone, MO.
How did I get here? Well, I drove of course… but, why am I here? ’cause Alissa invited me. So, who is Alissa, and why am I telling you to keep on blogging? Read on, and find out (I also had a run in with Mark Twain, and had the luckiest car breakdown ever)!
I had just driven from La Jolla to Vegas to Detroit, and had met incredible people, and heard incredible stories at the 140Conf Detroit, and was about to head towards Hutchinson, Kansas to attend the 140conf Smalltown. I had too many opportunities, and wasn’t sure which way to head. Should I head to Hutch? Should I swing by Nashville and shoot (pics) some country stars? I posted on Facebook / Twitter my thoughts, and got a contact form e-mail:
“I don’t have a chic cottage on the lake but I have an open guest room, with a bed, if you are in need. I started following you/r story when my good friend and former room mate, Holly, mentioned meeting you awhile ago. My house is just outside of Kansas City in Gladstone, MO if you are needing a place to pass through on your way to Hutch. Not promising breakfast in bed… but there is a room and wifi and offstreet parking Safe travels!!”
In early 2009, I met Holly, whom later became one of my couches, and even went on adventure with me in Oregon! It was thanks to Holly that I discovered most of the springs, waterfalls, and parks that Austin has. She probably also makes the best margaritas in Austin, and as far as I am concerned, better BBQ than Kansas City. How can I say that? Because I’ve finally eaten BBQ in Kansas City.
Alissa had heard of me through Holly, and for 1.5 years has been reading my blog, but not saying anything… until I was sort of in need.
I don’t know who reads my blog all the time. I watch my server traffic, and I know that more and more people are always arriving, but I don’t bother much with analytics, because those are numbers… I like people. This is why I enjoy Facebook and Twitter so much. I get to interact with the actual people.
But the fact remains that I keep writing, whether people let me know that they are out there or not. I tell you what though, it’s frigging great to hear that someone’s been reading your blog for over a year! It’s great to meet those people in person!
I was Alissa’s “Boredom Buster” at work. She told me that after reading my blog for so long, she felt she knew who I was, and thus had no problem letting her boyfriend know that they’re about to have company for a little bit. As far as I go, I am grateful, because all this driving has been wearing on me a tiny bit, and I definitely needed to catch up on some projects.
So, all you people that are reading this… please, let me know who you are. I love getting to know my readers. Leave comments, let me know what you think about what I write. You are the reason I’m writing! You are part of the reason I keep on trucking… I keep moving on, to see what’s out there, and I’m actually stepping things up now. There will be much more details on this soon, but I’m definitely trying to get my message out there, and help more people (something I never thought I’d be saying 4 years ago).
The breakdown and Mark Twain:
I was in go mode! I was sleeping in my car for quite a while, and just wanted to get to my destination. I was not stopping to take photos. I was only stopping to fill up gas, and on occasion stop at a McDonald’s for some internet. They have free wi-fi, which can often be had from the parking lot. I’ve been eating my raw food snacks rather than McPoison this trip. I did have their new Real-berry smoothie, and their Mocha-Cappuccinos with extra shots of coffee. No food though.
Other than that, I wasn’t even couch surfing. I just wanted to get to where I was going. I was tweeting from the car when I’d get somewhere interesting. When I entered Missouri, for example, I tweeted that there’s a Flower Portrait of Twain (in hind sight, I wish I took a photo of it, because I think it’s new– I can’t find it on Google Images). I was not going to stop.
Shortly after that, my Battery light had turned on, and started flashing. My “eye in the sky”, Brandie, had advised that I pull over in the next exit, and get it looked at. I kept my chillaxed manner, and kept going, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen? I mean, the car’s still going, right?”
Well, we agreed I’d at least look under the hood.
I exited, and there were signs to Mark Twain’s childhood home. Interesting. I followed those signs a little bit, since I was now not completely in Go Mode anymore, I might as well head towards the source of some of my favorite quotes. I pulled over at a BP Gas Station (my way of supporting Dispersent-Flavored Shrimp at restaurants), and looked under the hood.
There was no corrosion, and the cables were on tightly. Hmmmm… crap… that’s about the only two things I knew how to check!
The car would not start. The key would turn, and the sound of a machine gun without ammunition rattled “rat a tat tat tat”. Most people would think I was screwed, but… if you’ve been keeping up with my recent posts on serendipity, you’d know better than that! My luck is too good for that to happen. But, as I say, being a blogger turns you into an optimist.
Turns out the BP station I stopped at was right across the street from JC’s automotive parts, JC’s Auto Repair, and a Chevy repair shop (I happen to drive a Chevy).
I walk into the parts store, where one gentleman proceeds to summarize for me “Your battery’s dead”, and then continue to speak on the phone. The other gentleman concluded in 1 second that my alternator’s gone, and to try next door.
JC’s repair informed me that I could be repaired… if I wanted to wait until after dinner.
The Chevy shop was looking even sexier than before, as I wanted to be at my destination already, and dinner sounded a bit late…. although, I was open to it, because that would turn into a neat story later.
I walked into the Chevy shop, got led to the repair garage in the back. I explained the issue, and two mechanics got in their pickup truck, drove across the street, jump-started my car, and then worked on it once I got it across the street.
It was the alternator. They billed me $164 for a new alternator (which came from JC’s parts), and labor. Just the alternator would’ve cost me near $400 – not including labor – if I was in a major city at a GM repair shop.
The entire process took about an hour, including charging up the battery once the new alternator was on. Additionally, I had earned myself 4 stops on my new 4Square account. Hooray, I was back on the road!
I felt this was a sign from the universe to take a break, and go check out some place cool.
I drove there, enjoyed the view of this wonderful lake, and entered the museum, where I learned about Twain in a way that made me like him even more than before.
There was a 24 minute biography film that gave his life story. I really enjoyed that.
I also enjoyed taking photos of various Twain Quotes, and his various busts. The guy was just cool! Twain is definitely on my “People I would’ve liked to have met when he was alive… but, I suppose that’s what our blogs, books, and interactions are for…. they leave a legacy for people to feel as if they know us, long after we’re gone.
Here are some of the photos I took:
The biography ended with “Mark Twain had done something most men do not ever achieve, he achieved immortality!”
I agree, and I think this is awesome. The man had stayed true to his passions, his diversity of interests, his friends, and his family despite many hardships.
He was a legend, and his quotes live on forever. The state of Missouri brands itself with the fact that he’s from there. He kept on trucking! He kept on blogging! (well.. he kept on writing… they didn’t have blogs back then).