Number 3 on the court, number 1 (or 1A) in my heart
The reason I got up at 0318 this morning is someone I care about very much.
Caitlyn and Ottawa had a volleyball match in St. Louis (well, St. Louis County–more on that in a moment) against Missouri Baptist, the number one ranked team in NAIA volleyball. I guess that makes MBU the NAIA equivalent of Nebraska or Penn State.
Last year, the Spartans eliminated the Braves from the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City.
I saw this match last month on the schedule when I debated going to Hutchinson for the Braves’ season opener. I decided against Hutch, but then got the idea I might cross the Show-Me State for this one.
Why drive almost 800 kilometers (500 miles) for a volleyball match?
The reason: make sure Caitlyn had some support a long way from home. Besides, I hadn’t seen her in 11 months–my birthday last year when I went to Ottawa, then drove straight back to Russell at night because snow was forecast the next day. Snow forecast on October 14? This year, we’ll be lucky if it’s below 25 C (77 F) on that date at the rate we’re going.
I knew Peggy would not be able to make it to St. Louis because of her teaching and coaching duties. I didn’t figure Clark would make the drive, which is 190 km (118 mi) longer from Norton than Russell. Chelsea would have faced a drive about the same length as that from Norton, and she had coaching duties, too. Even Courtney and Andy, who are four hours from St. Louis, had too much going on. If it were a weekend, I’m certain many members of the Cox clan would have gone to St. Louis.
Thursday is my best day to travel. The work for the papers is done, and I can’t do much because most events are Thursday afternoon through Saturday.
I wanted to be there for Caitlyn. I wanted White Castle. And I wanted to shop at St. Louis’ two major grocery stores, Dierberg’s and Schnucks, which have many items I can’t find in Kansas City or Wichita, and certainly can’t find in Salina or Hays.
I had my alarm set for 0410 this morning. Yet I was up 52 minutes before that. By 0435, the Buick was out of the garage at 1224 North Brooks and pointed eastward.
When I got to Kansas City, Kansas, I experienced something I hadn’t in many moons.
Rush hour traffic.
There was an accident 8 km (5 mi) past the Kansas Speedway. Just after the I-435 exits, I-70 east became a parking lot. In the past, it really would have upset me, and I would have tried desperately to find an alternate route.
This time, however, I sat patiently in line, inching along, just going with the flow. No horn honking, no rage. I made sure to keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front of me. The Buick hasn’t been banged up. I want to keep it that way.
Leaving early gave me enough time to get my car washed in Independence. Thousands of bugs did suicide missions on my front bumper and windshield over the previous 11 days. For good measure, I washed the car again in Columbia after stopping for White Castle.
The hotel where I’m staying is in St. Louis County, which is distinct from the city of St. Louis. The two were once one in the same, but in the 1890s, the city was granted independence from the county by the Missouri legislature.
This makes Kansas City and St. Louis sharply different.
Kansas City extends its tentacles into four counties: Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass. The surrounding municipalities–Liberty, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs–tend to be large.
The city of St. Louis has maybe one-fourth the land area as Kansas City. St. Louis County features so many municipalities you won’t know where you are if you don’t pay attention to the road signs.
My hotel is in Chesterfield and passed through Lake St. Louis on I-64. MBU has a St. Louis address, but is closest to Creve Coeur. I also passed through Town and Country on my way to MBU. I’ve been through Maryland Heights, St. Ann and Clayton…am I missing any?
St. Charles County has a lot of municipalities, but they seem to be better defined. Wentzville, St. Peters, St. Charles, O’Fallon are the main ones.
MBU having the St. Louis address was just like my second apartment in Baton Rouge. It had a Baton Rouge address, but was in an unincorporated part of East Baton Rouge Parish. Glen Oaks High on the north side of town is the same way.
I tried to be inconspicuous when I entered the MBU gym. It worked for 20 minutes, but then at 1730, Caitlyn waved.
I told Crista yesterday I didn’t want to see her before the match because I didn’t want to break her concentration. I’m sure Caitlyn was stunned to see me. Crista was the only other person who knew of my plans, and I didn’t reveal those until yesterday’s session.
MBU won in straight sets. I waited for Caitlyn until after she and her teammates showered for the trip back to Ottawa. .
She was delighted to see me. I brought her a white rose and some White Castle for the team to enjoy on the ride west.
This is the third longest trip I have made to watch an athletic event since moving to Kansas. The two that were longer were the trip to Kentucky two years ago and the one to Baton Rouge last year.
Now I feel really good about going. I will sleep even better than I would have before–if these yahoos staying in the hotel for a weekend wedding can hold it down.
Tomorrow? Part of me wants to visit the Gateway Arch. Part of me wants to be lazy. With Saturday looking like a deluge in Kansas City, I’m probably going to bed very early and leaving very early, but probably not before 0600.
Twenty straight hours awake. Time to call it a night.