This is (probably) my final wrap-up post from my trip this past weekend to Paducah, Kentucky and Metropolis, Illinois. I wanted to talk overall about the travel experience itself.
I’m an anxious person, and therefore, an anxious traveler. The Friday night before I was set to leave, I stayed up later than I intended to listening to a new podcast (forthcoming blog post on that). My intention was to set out traveling at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. at the latest. But I was still awake at nearly 1 a.m. As I mentioned before, from Cincinnati to Paducah is almost five hours on the button. For us Midwesterners in the United States, a five hour drive isn’t much of anything, and I’ve certainly driven further in one day.
But to make it feel like more of a mini-trip, I thought it would be fun to get a one-night stay at a hotel. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility for me to drive more than 10 hours in a day. I’ve done that probably two dozen times in my lifetime. Sandwich in a full day at a few museums though, and I didn’t want to bother.
Even so, I started getting anxious on Friday night and thinking of how I should back out of the trip. Do I really need to go anyway? Do I really need a hotel? Is it safe with COVID-19 still ongoing? Why not reschedule for next week, so I can leave Friday, and have more time to prepare for work in the coming week? Those kinds of thoughts. It’s literally a day and a half trip, but I was getting anxious about it.
Since I booked my hotel through Priceline, a third party platform, I couldn’t cancel the hotel anyway. That’s a fair trade, I suppose, given how cheap Priceline is giving the hotel to you. I ended up going, obviously, and believe it or not, with one cup of coffee, I was pretty much good to go the first three and a half hours before I needed to stop and recharge (and refuel), despite getting less than even a handful of hours of sleep. Podcasts help!
That coffee was from my Keurig at the house, which I brought a to-go cup of it with me. After that, I had nothing to turn to. I mean, I did end up stopping at McDonald’s to get an Egg McMuffin, and a coffee, but I didn’t drink the McDonald’s coffee. I always forget to tell them to include sugar and/or cream, so I wasn’t going to drink it black. By the time I got it, I was already at the Superman Museum anyhow.
I don’t mind driving long distances, although as I get older, I’ve noticed my body is wrecked more from it. My lower back stings, my neck aches, and even my feet get strained. And after even this 10-hour drive roundtrip spread across two days, I was exhausted. Granted, the lack of sleep didn’t help, but still. But what I don’t like about traveling, and particularly if you’re staying a hotel, is the lack of coffee options.
Does anyone like gas station coffee? Is there a gas station that actually has good coffee? I haven’t found it yet at least, and I’ve done my fair share of traveling to be able to sample a few. Sure, there’s some fancier machines now with mocha coffee or whatever else, but I’m talking straight up coffee (with cream/sugar added). So, the actual trip, once I’m out of my Keurig to-go coffee, sucks on that front. That means I end up turning to Red Bull or Monster to get a caffeine fix. I try not to drink either of those anymore.
Also, this particular stretch from Cincinnati to Paducah didn’t have many options besides gas stations and McDonald’s for coffee. About 20 minutes beyond Cincinnati, there was hardly a Starbucks or a Dunkin’ in sight.
Then you get to the actual hotel, and they have those pathetic little Keurig-like coffee machines. I don’t know what the real name of those are, but the coffee sucks. In a pinch, like I was Saturday night, it was fine. But if I was staying more than one night, I would have been annoyed.
That said, the actual breakfast area often has decent enough coffee when it’s available. But some hotels don’t seem to have it as an option at all hours. Certainly during COVID-19, it’s not.
Despite the coronavirus ongoing, particularly seeming to be re-surging in Kentucky, and a mask mandate in place, the front desk lady at the Comfort Inn didn’t have a mask. She was behind plexiglass barrier, but still. Then I stepped into the elevator with a maid, and she had a mask on, but hanging off of her face. When she saw me, she put it on, and I think tried to ease the tension by joking how hot it was to wear a mask.
Then I found my room and naturally, three older women with children were checking in at the same time and to a room opposite mine, and none of them were wearing masks.
The room itself was quite large with a decent size living room by the door (if that’s what you call it), and then beyond that, the bathroom, and a bedroom space for two beds. It was clean, so that’s good enough for me.
I do some basic research and planning for these trips, but not extensively. Like, I knew I was going to the Superman Museum and probably the National Quilt Museum, but that was it. I probably overestimated how long each of those things would take, so I had time to kill Saturday, and I like winging it. That’s exactly what I did and ended up at a cool swamp, and a cool old fashion general store.
So I don’t like to plan too much. I mostly want to make sure the logistics work: is the hotel still open during COVID? Is the museum still open during COVID? How far is it? What time should I leave to give me enough time to do this and that? That’s about it. I typically also make sure to stop and get cash, just in case I need cash (particularly if I’m going somewhere that seems more rural, like Paducah).
One thing that slipped through my research: I forgot that going as far as west as Paducah and Metropolis meant I would be one hour behind in Central Time instead of on my usual Eastern Time. So, at least on the day of arriving there, it was nice to gain an hour. I actually planned to go to the National Quilt Museum first, and then the Superman Museum. However, the former opened later in the morning, so gaining an hour meant I had two hours to kill before it opened. Therefore, I went to the Superman Museum first.
Going back home, it wasn’t as fun to gain that hour back because it made me paranoid about getting home at a good time since it was a Sunday. I left at 3 a.m. Central Time to make sure I got back home at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.
I enjoyed my mini-trip to the museums. This is what I pictured being an adult was like, among other pictures. That I would spend my time traveling to different museums, taking in culture and art and the world. I look forward to doing more mini-trips like this. I know there’s a few museums that came up in my research based out of Michigan and in the Detroit area specifically. That’s also not that far from Cincinnati.