From Lexington, KY to Lawrence, KS: Battle of the LKs!

October 2, 2012 23:30 – 23:30

This is an amnesia-prevention blog posting. I’m in Lawrence, Kansas. Last night, I was in Lexington, KY in a “Comfort” Inn that was anything but. It was smelly and old, and desperately needs refurbishing. The water just barely trickled out of the bathroom and shower faucets. Even at a trickle, the bathtub drain could not keep up, and by the time I finished my shower, I was ankle deep in water that seems to have summoned up additional dirt that didn’t come from me. Yuck!

So… today, I drove 624 miles from Lexington to Lawrence. Along the way, I made only a few stops. One notable stop was to pick up a sandwich at a little gas-station-cum-market called something like Chuckwagon Charlie’s. The sandwich wasn’t half bad—roast beef and swiss—except for the bun it was on, which was well past its sell-by date. The bun is now nurturing nature somewhere in Indiana.

Well before that… at a rest area in eastern Kentucky, way up in the hills, the clouds were close to ground level. Here’s what it looked like—as if there were smoke everywhere. This is how the Great Smokey Mountains got their name, even though this didn’t happen to be anywhere near the Smokies. You can see a small smattering of foliage as well.

Another notable stop was at a McDonald’s at about 4 pm in Missouri. A few weeks ago, someone informed me that McDonald’s coffee was vastly improved and I needed to try it. So, when I was in need of non-tea caffeine this afternoon, I decided to use McDonald’s rest room and to pay for the privilege by buying a cup of their coffee.

I’m a harsh coffee critic. I’m very particular, and it is very unusual to find coffee I like, which I did not brew myself. McDonald’s coffee is no exception. On the Herb Coffee Scale, McD’s used to be at the very bottom—a solid 1 out of 10. For perspective, Starbucks is a 5, Seattle’s Best is about a 6, Tim Horton’s is a 7, and mine is a 10 on most mornings. This is very subjective, mind you, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t many who would rank mine as 1 and Starbucks as a 10. These ratings do not take price into account. If they did, then mine would be closer to 15… which is hard to do on a 10 point scale.

So, how did today’s McDonald’s match up? Based on flavor and temperature, I gave today’s McDonald’s coffee a solid 5. Right there with Starbucks.

Now comes the question of price. I’m not sure how much Starbuck’s typically costs. The last cup I bought was at a rest plaza in New Jersey, where 12 ounces of just-barely-strong-enough java tipped the money scale at $3.75. Gulp. And not a big gulp, at that.

McDonald’s coffee—also 12 ounces and the smallest size they sell—cost me a whopping 38 cents. That is not a typo. There is no missing $1. Or $2. in front of the 38. $0.38 was the price. I think they gave me a senior discount, but even so… So, certainly on the quality/price quotient scale, McDonald’s coffee beat the pants off of Starbuck’s coffee.

Supercharged with McDonald’s coffee, I drove the rest of the way to Lawrence and checked into the Comfort Suites. This property is the exact opposite of the Comfort I was in last night. It is clean and brand new. Hell… I can still smell the fresh odor of industrial toxins in the air. It’s so much better than mold and mildew.

Once I got here, I quickly changed into my dining-out attire (I switched from shorts to jeans), and headed to El Mezcal to meet my cousin Sam for dinner. Sam is pastor of a UCC congregation in Partridge, Kansas. He drove up today for a three-day leadership conference, and when he saw that I was going to be on his trajectory, he suggested dinner, and my Droid-based research came up with El Mezcal. El Mezcal is cheap and good. Or good and cheap. I had the beef fajitas, and they were good. Not extraordinary. But, not awful, either. Sam had a chicken burrito and a margarita, both of which he pronounced good. Their chips did taste a bit stale, though… which is good, because ended up eating only 3 of them. Oh… and the hotel receptionist’s husband works for the gas company and has inspected the kitched at Mezcal, and says he would eat there again. So, it passed the clean test, as well.

I just looked at my computer’s time and realized it’s still on eastern. So, instead of almost 23:30, it’s only almost 22:30. Woo! I didn’t miss my self-imposed be-in-bed-by-23h curfew! Well… not yet, anyway.

Tomorrow, it’s off for Colorado, where I have a room reserved in Manitou Springs, near Garden of the Gods, where I plan to make extensive use of my camera. Then, I leave Colorado and head down into the Land of Enchantment to take pictures of beautiful balloons.

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