We are heading out for a three-day weekend in the Big City. We will be on Rt. 66 for only a very short time — Joplin to Carthage. Fortunately, this book has plenty of intriguing historical details (did you know that Belle Starr was born in Carthage?) about these two cities. The road we are taking has, however, been an important road for much longer than Rt. 66. We will be following the paths of the Old Military Road, the telegraph wires, the Butterfield stage coach, and the Trail of Tears.

Nowadays, of course, it is merely a matter of pointing the car north and letting it have its head. Except for Joplin, where you have to pay attention for a few minutes if you do not want to go to Branson, which we do not.

We have made this particular journey many times — probably eight times for me and twice that many for number two daughter. There was one trip when my husband was driving the return journey and he developed the conviction that we were headed north instead of, as we should have been, south. On this occasion, our kids were in number one daughter’s car behind us. It was a stretch of road with no useful signs, going through undifferentiated farmland for many miles. I was pointing out the sun, and the fact that we had not turned around at any time since leaving the city, but my husband has an excellent sense of direction — which had unfortunately at that moment taken some kind of vacation — and it was telling him that he was heading north. The girls in the car behind us were watching our spirited discussion with alarm as their daddy slowed the car down to a crawl. I was arguing for stopping at the next exit and asking at the first farmhouse which way was south, but of course this idea did not appeal. Eventually, a sign appeared, and all was well.

Other than this kind of entertainment, which cannot be counted upon, it is a predictable drive.

Since I have Overcome Agoraphobia, I am experiencing almost no trepidation and very few irrational worries about our freeway drive today. We have prepared our list, as Jerome K. Jerome recommends, and packed up our car with the essentials only. A book to read aloud on the drive (Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants), one each for reading there (mine is Envious Casca), some food in the cooler for actual lunches, a modicum of clothing and toothbrushes, and approximately three cubic feet of snacks for number two son. Number one son is staying home with his dad. He is sixteen, and can apparently imagine more exciting possibilities for the weekend than visiting a great-aunt and attending a reception at the college.

The question of what knitting to take vexes me still. Hopkins’s first sleeve required advanced mathematics and several reference books to complete, so the remaining sleeve is clearly not my first choice. I cast on for a second T-shirt, but was quickly reminded that it involves a lot of shaping, and is easy to lose track of. Elizabeth Zimmerman recommends making lace shawls in the car, but I dismissed this idea out of hand, as I’m sure you would as well.

Most knitting bloggers would have no difficulty here, because they have enormous stashes and numerous favorite patterns consisting of rectangles of stockinette or possibly even garter stitch. I have yarn for three projects, none of which is suitable (the third is the Alice Starmore Fair Isle cardi called Erin, using I believe 18 colors). I also have two skeins of Classic Wool, in two different colors, and one skein of Jewel Box. I think it likely that I will end up making something to be felted. Perhaps a small bag. I suppose it will have to be a small striped bag. I would not attempt serious colorwork in a car, and I would not in any case go to that trouble for something which will end up felted. I have about 15 minutes to make a decision on this.

It is time to begin winkling my fellow-travellers out of bed. Jerome K. Jerome is very funny on this subject in both of his books. I will take what comfort I can from remembering those humorous passages while doing it.