Throughout the summer, we’ll be sharing weekly installments of a Route 66 travel journal written by association member Joe Razumich. It’s his entertaining account of a recent road trip from his home down Route 66 to Rolla, Missouri for the 75th anniversary of the iconic Munger Moss Motel. On his adventure, Joe passes through Illinois so you’re sure to recognize many of the places he mentions. So, without further ado, here’s Joe!
Sit back and enjoy a Journey Joe travel adventure. Is Journey Joe a real person? Well, not really. But he’s as real as any nickname, any stage personality, any thought or collection of travel experiences that any roadie might have. The real “Joe” is Joe Razumich, a lover of cars and the open road ever since his childhood, growing up around the corner from a hot rod shop, a busy Broadway, and a railroad track. But really all Real Joe does is drive. And put gas in the tank. And put Mr. Suitcase, Mr. Duffle Bag, Ms. Cooler, Mr. Road Atlas, etc., collectively known as the “Inanimate Objects,” in the trunk or behind the passenger seat. Or, to put it another way, Joe loves to drive. Journey Joe loves to write about it – and take you, Dear Reader, along for the ride.
Thursday, June 17, 2021, Day 3. Part 2.
“I am soooo mad, and sooooo scared!!” said the buxom yet slender young blond walking towards us. She held up her right arm and a handcuff was attached, with the other handcuff dangling. In addition to the handcuff, some well placed tattoos on display.
She went on to begin telling us her story. I was 15% listening, 85% raising my guard. “Where the heck did she come from?!?!” was my first thought. Streetwise people can appear and disappear at will. She wasn’t there just a second ago. It’s a mile drive down to here from the dead-end road. But there she was, standing in front of us, one very good looking young woman. With a handcuff dangling from her wrist. Dressed in bling jeans and a tight top. Lots of visible tattoos to draw attention. Clean. Hair tied back. Eye lashes and eye liner. She was smiling. Journey Joe was awake, alive, and alert. Game on. He assessed the situation.
“She is smiling. That’s not scared, and that’s not mad.” Up with the awareness. No one else standing around. Just that gray SUV behind her, where she must have come from. A young man in a ball cap in the driver’s seat.
Three seconds had passed up to this point. I’ve trained my brain to work pretty fast when the alarm antenna goes up. Journey Joe is streetwise too.
“I just got out of jail, and the cop forgot to take off the other half of this handcuff! I don’t know what I’m gonna do!” I pretty much tuned her out after hearing that nonsense, choosing instead to focus my attention on where the next shoe was going to drop from. She went on conversing with Lulu about this absurd handcuff situation. I heard her tell Lulu “I didn’t do it.” While that was going on, Journey Joe spoke in my head, defining this situation unfolding for me in real time.
“This is the most ridiculous story I’ve ever heard!!!” said the Journey Joe voice. “What, were you sleeping when they released you from jail and you didn’t notice a handcuff on your wrist? Didn’t you ask the cop to please remove the handcuff? What kind of a cop would do that? Handcuffs aren’t cheap throwaways. And where was your own damn common sense???” How do you get out of jail, as cleaned up and rested as you look, with a handcuff on your wrist???” The questions kept on coming. But J J held them all back, and I said nothing out loud. I let Lulu do the talking. She suggested to call the police back. “I don’t wanna call the police!” Or go to a locksmith; she nodded. I finally spoke up, suggesting that she go to a magic shop; she nodded. Cuff Lady paused for a moment in her storytelling. I took that opportunity to walk between Cuff and Lulu, and turned to Lulu.
“Do not start another conversation with this girl!” I said to Lulu, quietly but succinctly under my breath, so that only she could hear. I started nudging and motioning Lulu to move back towards my car, which I could no longer see behind another car that had pulled up next to it. The conversation continued. I did not hear a word. I was all antennae.
Lulu turned around to take one more picture, as Ms. Cuff walked back to her boyfriend’s SUV, ostensibly to relay our suggestions. “Lulu, I am feeling less and less comfortable here, every passing second.” She understood.
I got us going again, walking towards our car. By now, Ms. Cuff had walked over to her car and was shouting to some additional person in their party who was just out of sight in the woods. I heard another voice from the woods shouting something back. “We need to leave NOW, Lulu. NOW.” Lulu, being the calm one on our team, wished Ms. Cuff good luck as we got back in the car. I started Angel up and we idled out of there, through the nearly deserted, gravel parking lot at the bottom of the Chain of Rocks Bridge.
Somewhat less on-edge now in the safety of the automobile, I started picking apart the absurd story with Lulu as we motored away. We agreed. “Absolutely ridiculous.” We came to the conclusion that more than likely this was either some kind of kinky game that had gone wrong, or possibly it could have been some kind of setup for a robbery, that didn’t happen because Ms. Cuff sensed right away that I smelled the rat. I’m glad that Lulu was with me for this adventure. She kept me calm and rational. I think that if I was alone, a gray haired guy with a Corvette out in the boondocks, Ms. Cuff and her boyfriend would have set off some kind of scheme to roll me.
You know what we say here, Dear Readers … “You don’t get this on the Interstate!”
The drive over and around St. Louis was incident-less. So was the entire rest of today’s driving. Who needs more excitement than this in one day? We meandered down old 66, this way and that, until we arrived at our next stop, the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba. It is 98 degrees, there’s dust in the air, we are hungry and it’s dinner and ice cream time.
We managed to make a 130 mile journey last all day. Arriving at the Wagon Wheel Motel at the height of the day-heat, we got ourselves checked in. My experience with the Wagon Wheel Motel is kind of backwards. I’ve stayed here three times. First time, in a very nice two room suite. Second time, in a small two-bed room. This time, in an absolutely minuscule single bed room. Seriously, this room is barely 200 square feet. Well at least the air conditioner works.
Dinner at the Four Way. I purposely avoided world famous Missouri Hicks next door to the motel. Last time I ate there, my gall bladder almost exploded. At the Four Way, now renamed Weir Open, I had a chicken sandwich that was a full meal. The chicken breast was almost as big as one of Ms. Cuff’s girlies. But no cartoons on the chicken breast. Just some great seasoning and I ate just about all of it.
Next up was the car wash. Thirteen miles west to the next town, for the nearest car wash. But Angel needs a bath. The car wash kind of ripped me off; I got one minute of water regardless of how many extra quarters I put in. But hey it’s karma. A couple years ago in Springfield, IL, I got a car wash for free. When I finished, Angel was clean and dry, and Journey Joe was wet and weary. Angel took us back to base camp and we’ll be crashing out on the back porch with that warm humid summer sunset.
Follow along with Journey Joe’s travels! Click to read the following entries in this series as they’re published.