Sunday, January 27, 2013

Steve Miller Band -- "Jet Airliner" (1977)

You know you got to go through hell
Before you get to heaven

In the last 2 or 3 lines, I whined about spending nine hours at the Baltimore/Washington International airport thanks to American Airlines deciding to cancel my 8:15 am flight to Dallas-Ft. Worth and put me on a 4:00 pm flight instead.

I really had no choice but to wait it out.  To paraphrase Steve Miller:

You know you got to go through DFW
Before you get to Joplin

I ending up arriving in Joplin, Missouri (where I grew up and where my parents still live) a full sixteen hours after leaving my house in suburban Washington -- which would have been enough time for me to drive the almost 1100 miles to Joplin.

American Eagle ERJ-140
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when American decided to cancel the first leg of my return trip as well.  I was scheduled to leave Joplin at 6:55 am on a Sunday.  An hour before then -- after I had dragged myself out of bed at 5:00 am, eaten some leftover homemade spaghetti red (with beans), and carried my bags to the car -- an American robot gave me a ring and told me I could have stayed in bed.  

The only other flight out of Joplin that day was at 3:50 pm.  That meant I had eight-plus hours on my hands.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day in Joplin -- there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the temperature reached almost 60 degrees by late morning.  I decided to head down South Main and take my daily constitutional on the trails along Shoal Creek.

I went across Low Water Bridge and drove to Grand Falls:  

Grand Falls on Shoal Creek (Joplin, MO)
On more than one occasion, a friend and I would head to the spot where I was standing when I took the above picture with some leftover firecrackers.  There were always a lot of empty beer bottles and cans on the ground here, and we liked to bend the fuse on a firecracker into a "U" shape and position it so the firecracker was suspended inside the neck of the bottle or can, with the crook of the fuse over the bottle's lip or can's rim so the firecracker wouldn't fall all the way into it.  

We would then light the fuse and run like hell.  When most of the fuse had burned, the firecracker would drop down into the bottle or can and explode.  I think the resulting explosions sent glass or metal shrapnel flying in all directions, but neither my friends or I were ever injured -- thankfully, neither were any innocent bystanders.

After leaving Grand Falls, I headed to a nearby parking spot I favored when I was in high school and was able to talk a girl into accompanying me there.  They've put up a barrier preventing you from parking on my spot any more -- there's a small paved lot across the road now, which is perfectly usable but has none of the romance of the old spot.  

I got out and hoofed it along a trail that follows a cliff on the west side of Shoal Creek.  I'm not a big fan of heights, so this was a bit nerve-wracking for me -- the trail usually puts you within a foot or two of the edge of the cliff -- but I've walked this trail enough times that it didn't scare me that much.

Here's the view of Shoal Creek looking south from the trail:

And here's the view looking north.  (You can see the trail I was walking on to the left.)

I'm not sure why I haven't thought to walk that trail on any of my recent trips to Joplin.  And there are several trails across the creek at the relatively new Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, which I've never visited.

I've got a few other photos from this trip that shouldn't go to waste.  For example, I saw this 2002 Dale Earnhardt "Intimidator Edition" Chevy Monte Carlo SS in the parking lot at Freeman Hospital.  It comes equipped with a 3.8L V6 engine and a "3" decal with a facsimile of Earnhardt's signature.  This car also came equipped with handicapped license plates:

Ecumenism is alive and well in Joplin, I'm proud to say:

Paranoia about tornados is also alive and well in Joplin, although that's certainly understandable.  I bet your local mall doesn't have a big storm shelter/"safe room"  store like the one at the mall in Joplin:

There are many reminders of the EF5 tornado that devastated Joplin in May 2011. I've written about the hundreds (thousands?) of handpainted stars and butterflies that decorated all the street corners in the tornado-ravaged part of the city:

Here's a truck with an inspirational message that I saw parked near my parents' house:

There's a big new Walmart in Joplin, which appears to have been built using British blueprints.  (Note where the "Exit" and "Enter" signs are.)

People at the Walmart transport their six-packs and eight-packs of soft drinks in what I thought was a very curious fashion.  Is this the custom elsewhere?

On the way home from the Walmart, I was tempted to stop here and get my bikini area tidied up a little:

Last but not least, here's a picture of an intriguing structure I saw on one of my walks.  All I could figure was that someone was offering backyard hangings to pick up a few extra bucks (or just for the sheer fun of it):

"Jet Airliner" was written by Paul Pena, a blind singer/songwriter of Cape Verdean descent who grew up on Cape Cod.  (In case you've never heard of Cape Verde, it's an archipelago with about half a million residents located off the western coast of Africa that was uninhabited until Portuguese colonists settled there in the 15th century.  There are quite a few people of Cape Verdean ancestry in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.)

Pena recorded an album that included "Jet Airliner" in 1973, but he and his record label had a tiff, and the album wasn't released until 2000.  Steve Miller heard the unreleased album and recorded "Jet Airliner" in 1977.  It was a top ten single.  

Here's "Jet Airliner":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:


  1. Below this post was an ad for CDL A Drivers, saying "We need refrigerated drivers today." If they've been working in the Northeast, and their cab heaters aren't working, they certainly are refrigerated.
    Some years ago, I was driving (a rental car, not a big rig) through Massachusetts, and stopped at a "travel plaza" for a snack. The young woman behind the counter asked to see my CDL. When I said "CDL?", she said, "Your commercial driver's license. We have a discount for truckers." And I had to admit, "I'm not a trucker; I'm a tourist from California." I guess my Ben Davis dark blue work clothes had her fooled.

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