Monday, April 26, 2010

I Survived Staunton, IL, and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Title

I spent all last week out of the beautiful and wonderful state of Kentucky.  Work required me to take a trip up and over to Illinois.  To be more specific, to a little town called Staunton.  Being away from home was a drag, but being away from the desk and outdoors was great.

Most of the time I sit in the office and spend my time working on projects.  A lot of this involves repetitive actions and constant re-reading of design manuals.  Staring at dual-monitors all day long sometimes leaves a halo of unpleasantness in the brain, so needless to say, I enjoyed my time away.

We were working on a twelve mile stretch of road along I-55.  The purpose of the trip was to inspect culverts, inlet pipes, outlet pipes, underdrains, etc.  Many of these pipes showed up on the plan sheets, but some we had to find along the way.  Once the structure was found, we’d take a picture and write down the condition of the thing, as well as any other notes needed.  That’s pretty much it.  We wore the highly reflective yellow jackets, so we would be seen by drivers.  And there were plenty of drivers, as the work area was relatively close to St. Louis.

We would park the car off the shoulder, look for an opening in traffic, and run to the median.  Often we had to cross the cable barriers, carrying with us the equipment we needed.  Then we’d run across the other lane of traffic and find the structure and repeat.  Sometimes we were alarmingly close to vehicles (like this one inlet that was right off the shoulder).  And the noise was unbelievably loud.  At one point I almost stepped on a snake.  We saw plenty of mice, which apparently like to make their home in the medians.  Ants and ticks and poison ivy were plentiful.  Steep slopes were often challenging.  The sky was mostly clear and the sun was relentless, but the temperatures weren’t too bad.  Yes, even in all of this, I had a good time.

Why?  What sounds fun in this?  Maybe there wasn’t much fun involved in what we were doing, but it was a break from the norm, a change in scenery.  Plus, I had plenty of time to think and daydream.  I wrote a few pieces of flash fiction.  I thought about the complexities of LOST and wondered what would happen in the remaining episodes.  I sang songs (when I was alone).  I pondered and marveled.  And at night, alone in my frigid motel room, I read and wrote.  The only thing missing was Keisha and the dogs.

The city of Staunton is a small town, quite reminiscent of home home*.  Little winding roads.  Pretty downtown.  Presumably friendly people.  But the best thing it has going for it is the Staunton Family Restaurant.  It was good enough that we ate there every single night.  The food was all cheap and delicious.  The service was great, just like the soups and entrees. 

Friday was going to be a rainy day, so we drove an hour north to Springfield, IL, where the MLC** has an office.  That office does a lot of environmental work, and since my major was Civil & Environmental Engineering, I was excited to talk to the environmental manager.  We discussed my background and the experiences I’ve had, and I got to say how I’d love to be able to do some environmental work if the opportunities presented themselves.  (They liked that idea, as anytime there is any environmental work to be done in Kentucky they have to drive several hours to get to it.)  So hopefully my future will involve some of this kind of work, too.

In the end, I had a good time, but I’m still pretty tired from the trip.  We were up early and out late, and I’m still a bit draggy.  I’m glad to be back home, though.

*Bremen, KY
**Mexican Lightbulb Company, the fictitious name of the real company I work for

Bits & Pieces

  • I’ll have some book reviews up this week, as well as the next installment of The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria.
  • I may have another Flash Fiction Friday this week, too.
  • My anniversary is next Wednesday.  I’m pretty sure Keisha knows what she’s getting.  So that means I need to think of something else…
  • Sophie is still undecided, that crazy dog.
  • I’m in two weddings coming up, one in June, the other in November.


Crystal said...

Sounds like a productive trip.

Looking forward to more book reviews and the next installment of Oscambria.

logankstewart said...

Oh yes, productive indeed-o.

David Wagner said...

I wondered where you'd disappeared to! I think we all need a chance of pace/scenery now and then. Glad it was a positive experience.

I can see the title for your next autobiographical piece now... Two Weddings, An Anniversary and That Crazy Dog...

David Wagner said...

chance = change... sorry.

I am Typo Man! ROOOAR!!

logankstewart said...

@David(x2): I'm going to have to commit that title to memory for some future post. It's got pizazz! By the way, Typo Man would make an excellent comic book character. Plenty o' potential.