We left here at two minutes to nine—nine being when we were to be at the Vaughans' house. I had rushed to get my backpack filled with the right things. As I sat it in the backseat, I remarked to myself, "This bag is heavy."
At the Vaughans' place, Anne-Marie was ready to greet us as we made to knock. We piled into her Scion, for what reason I never inquired. I was kind of disappointed because I really like riding in Pat's Vibe. Pat still drove. I rode shotgun and felt I had nothing to say. Pat made the left from I-170 North to I-70 West (a turn he once made in error, begging Billy's chagrin at the White Birch disc golf course, but I digress). I thought: he's done it again—why are we getting on Interstate 70 West when Grafton and the eagles are east of here? But I didn't say anything, except for a small prayer that I said only to myself (and God).
Through the airport area on Interstate 70 is a nasty speed trap—Berkeley, Edmundson, St. Ann: the various airport municipalities, some more obscure than others. Pat wasn't exactly laying off it but I didn't see any cops. Eventually they were there (two of St. Ann's finest), but one had gotten out to share some hot intel with the other and Pat saw the guy's fluorescent highlighter vest and eased up.
That disaster averted, I got back to worrying about where in the hell we were going. I thought, "Is he going to take Lindbergh to 367?" That's not the way I would have gone, and we would lose a little time, but it would get the job done—I guess. Nope. Then we flew by the ramp to get onto I-270 and I was completely confused. I resorted to consoling my worry by thinking, "Okay. There's some other place, along the Missouri River that's really good for seeing eagles, that Pat knows about because he's got the whole St. Charles County-sort-of country street smarts thing going on." Except that B and I had recently mentioned to Pat and Anne-Marie that we (me and B) had driven up along the Great River Road to Grafton on Christmas (with my sister Emily and her boyfriend, Rob) and we had seen a boatload of eagles along the way. If Pat knew about a sweet spot for eagle watching that was somehow better, he didn't mention it then.
I started to worry that his plan was to take a series of ferries to get us to Grafton, something we had done once when we all went to Grafton for my birthday one September. On that occasion we first took the Golden Eagle ferry across the Mississippi to Golden Eagle, IL before then taking the Brussels ferry across the Mississippi yet again to Grafton. This possibility concerned me because I was pretty sure that neither of those two ferries was running today. I'd checked. The winter has been quite cold and best I could tell from the websites for those ferries—and from Twitter—the ferries were shut down because of ice build-up on the river. The Winfield ferry, which I'd never been on and didn't even realize existed, had apparently started running in the last day or so, but Winfield was a bit further north. If we headed up that way, it might be our only option but even then: if the Brussels ferry wasn't running it wasn't clear to me how we'd get to Grafton. Either way, it was looking like we were going to be spending more time in the car than I had imagined and I was starting to fret just a bit...
The eagles are just ahead...