Day 09 - The death and resurrection of Blinky.

If you are at all into photography you probably know a bit about, or at least have heard of 'geotagging'. Geotagging is the practice of embedding metadata into your photos that gives the latitude and longitude of where the photo was taken so that you can locate it on the map. Sure, you may want to worry about some security issues but for the most part, its fun to be able to see where you've been if you know how to read the data.

Beth geotags her photos.

She does this with a thing that we have affectionately named "Blinky". Blinky goes everywhere with her, well, everywhere she goes that she takes her camera, and, if you haven't guessed, it blinks.

We started today in Rolla, Missouri at the Super 8. After packing up we drove up the street to the Waffle House for breakfast. I LOVE Waffle House. It is just so pure and simple and to the point. You can't ask for a better breakfast on the road. Then we hit the road.

When we set out today we didn't have a lot of ground we had planned on covering. If we made it to Springfield Missouri we'd be ahead of schedule. Springfield was 100 miles from us. Lets just say it was a good thing we didn't need to go far.

Total miles driven 113.

Distance traveled 57.

What went wrong?

Uh... we got lost.

I'm gonna try to break this down, minus of course the standard... "oh, that was it, turn around next chance you get" mishaps.

We left Rolla and headed west... you know like the song says. Through Doolittle and then up onto interstate 44 because there is a stretch of 66 that is just totally unpassable. Then off at Exit 172 onto Outer Road North, (we did this several times today as the Outer Road North and Outer Road South traded duties for representing the remnants of 66).

Then, at Exit 169, you cross over I-44 again and turn onto Highway Z, as its called. Z takes you thru Hookers Cut and then you turn off Z thru an area called Devil's Elbow because of a bad turn in the river that clogs with fallen trees annually. The tavern at Devil's Elbow was closed but we met Doug and Jim and Becky. Great people. 

We stood there on the side of the road and talked for a long time... maybe an hour, certainly 30 minutes. They told us all about the Lake of the Ozarks and how it was a good "picture takin' trip". Such wonderful charm they all had. Doug and his wife moved from San Diego 10 years ago to build a 1.5 million dollar bed and breakfast on the lake and they just LOVE the area. 

This was a good lesson in underestimating people. The whole time I stood there with this underlying "California snob" attitude. Oh, I hide it well, but I know its right there under the surface. Then just as we are wrapping up our conversation Doug mentions something about 'leaving his iPhone at home and then says, "Oh I just love Apple, I got myself one of those iPads about 4 weeks ago (CLEARLY he is an early adopters) and I just love it..."

So there I am, put in my place. I'm no different then they are, as a matter of fact, I bet Doug could teach me a thing or two about iPads, after all, I don't have and he's had his for a month. Doug, Jim, Becky... I trust you are reading this, no doubt on your iPad, and I want to say what a wonderful time we had hearing your stories and Jim... I'm gonna watch Walking Tall (the original one) first chance I get. Although we won't be making the drive to Lake of the Ozarks on this trip... we may just be coming back for that...  

A very rare 4 lane divided portion of old Route 66

So we left Devil's Elbow and then thru St. Roberts, crossing I-44 again (told you) to Waynesville (Party Time! Most Excellent!). Thru Waynesville, crossing I-44, AGAIN and down 17 South... this is where it gets tricky... 

So, Lee Redmon calls at this point. He had some questions about video playback on external video displays and why it would look dark... well.. i got wrapped up in Lee's question... the phone went dead and we got cut off. Somewhere in there we also MISSED A TURN!!!!

From 17 South you are SUPPOSE TO veer onto Highway AA... if you don't, God Bless you everyone!

Ever heard of the Mark Twain National Forrest? Neither had we, but we sure saw a lot of it today. We were driving along all dumb and happy, NO CELL service which means NO Google Map updates on the iPhone but basically enjoying the view... ON THE WAY TO ARKANSAS!!! 

It turns out we went about 15 miles out of the way before Beth sort of panicked and realized... "I think this is wrong, we haven't seen an Historic 66 sign in too long." She was right and we pulled over.

So, you know all those ads showing how bad the iPhone coverage is on AT&T and what a looser you are if you don't have Verizon... they are TOTALLY RIGHT. We busted out our Verizon MiFi portable WiFi hub and put that thing up on the dash, we then logged on to it with our iPhones... (yes I said iPhones PLURAL because we ARE that geeky) and we were then able to get Google Map updates. AT&T zero, Verizon ONE! 

Beth, being the sensible one says, "Lets just turn around and get back on track" much like we did 8 years ago in Australia when we got lost in the outback. But this time we didn't have a plane to catch and frankly, we had all the time in the world. So I say... "ah come on, lets go on an adventure!" I take a quick look on Google Maps on the iPhone THRU the MiFi and make my plans to get thru the Mark Twain National Forrest. 


Thats right, for about 15 miles we are driving on dirt roads IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OZARK MOUNTAINS. That pour Chrysler will never be the same. (if you indeed work for Budget and are reading this please be aware that the details included in this blog are for entertainment purposes only and do not accurately represent what may or may not actually happen on our road trip... by the way what does the warning light that says "check t case" mean?)

But this is not the end of the story. Right in the heart of this getting lost dilemma, Beth makes a comment that "at least we'll be able to check the GPS data on Blinky to be able to know where we were later" at which point she reaches for Blinky on her belt loop and...

He's gone.

Blinky is gone.

Death of Blinky!

She is crushed. Blinky has become a friend. He was always with us, he always had good things to say at the end of the day and, well, HE BLINKS... what else could you ask for? But he was gone.

At this point Beth shuts down, she is just beside herself with disappointment, trying to figure out where he was left behind, what she bumped up against to knock him off his decidedly poorly designed lanyard. I'm trying to tell her, "we'll get another one", "at least we aren't lost", "things will be ok". But nothing is working... she is totally and completely angry with herself for loosing Blinky.

Eventually we make it back to Interstate 44 on the dirt roads and by now we are realizing that there are probably only 3 places we could have lost Blinky. The Bridge at Devil's Elbow, the McDonalds we used as a bathroom break or the giant bowling pin that we had stopped at earlier. Although we had driven 30 miles thru Mark Twains Forrest we had only traveled about 6 miles down the interstate since the giant bowling pin which we had determined was the most likely spot for loosing Blinky.

Having been thru this before when I lost my headphones in the middle of the outback 8 years earlier... AND FINDING THEM 3 days later, we thought, "What the hell, lets drive back to the bowling pin and see if we find Blinky.

We drive down the interstate, get off at exit 153, we cross over the freeway (yes, AGAIN) we pull on to Historic 66, we pull up opposite the bowling pin, I hop out, I run across the road and...

He's not there...


Happier times... Before the loss of our dear friend "Blinky"

I keep telling Beth "Its ok, we are driving in a digitally equipped mobile problem solving cruiser, 2 laptops, 2 smart phones (with crap coverage), 2 digital SLR's, 2 point and shoots, don't forget the Flip camera, multiple Terabytes of storage and the all important MiFi card.

We pull over for a late lunch, (we tend to still be eating on California time), pull out a laptop and log on. Our plan is to commit to a hotel location for Tuesday night, order "Blinky 2: Revenge of the GPS Tracker" and have him sent ahead to the hotel we'll be staying at in two days. 30 minutes later... its all taken care of. And we're fed and we head out back on the road.

Beth, amazingly enough, wants to try the "Highway 17, veer onto AA" thing again because there is a bridge she read about in the guide book she wants to take a picture of and this time we don't miss the turn and she gets a great shot of the bridge.

By now, we are tired, frustrated but at least we know we'll be getting "Blinky 2" in a few days but its time to call it quits for the day. Beth finds a place called Mungers Moss Motel, a Route 66 icon and the perfect 'roadside motel' experience we had talked about staying in. I pull up to the motel office, go into get a room and when i get back to the car Beth is smiling ear to ear.

Blinky had been found...

It turned out when Beth had jumped in the car to move it at Devil's Elbow it had fallen off her beltloop and I had been sitting on it the whole day...

Resurrection of Blinky!

We move into our room. We took a nap, we went out at sunset to shoot the old Munger's Moss neon sign and that was another day on Route 66.

Tomorrow... who knows WHATS gonna happen.


« Day 08 - Happy Birthday Jon. | Main | Day 10 - Tornado in Missouri. »

Reader Comments (5)

I was praying you would find Blinky all the time I was reading the story. I am so happy. Happy for both of you - but do keep the second one and who knows - you might still use it. Two of everything, I always say! Duplicity.

One thing, do you know, do guide books tell you, that the first thing you do in a motel room or even a good hotel room is . . . take the spread off the bed - fold all 4 corners inward and take it inside out and put it away from the bed. The sheets will be clean but the spread on the bed is rarely cleaned and who knows what might have happened on that spread. Trust me.

Monday, June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Fenwick

STAY ON 66 - if you leave for any reason - email home so we know in case you get lost in space. Dirt roads are not good.

Monday, June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Fenwick

Hey you know we actually have an Apple Store here in Tulsa - it's where I got my iPad. It shocks me sometimes too! Anyway, we can go by there when you get out of Mark Twain's Forrest and pick you up one. You might really like the Maps ap on the bigger screen!!

Monday, June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Love the story. I heard you on TWiP. I also like to geotag my photos. What tagger are you using? I did not see you say which one it was in the article.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterT.J. Powell

Great video!

Friday, July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Smith

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>