[M.M.X.I.V. 169]

I don’t need a sub-title for this, because the number itself has many associations for me.  In particular, this is because it is a U.S. highway that I knew well in my youth.  However, I will drive along the road in a gedankenexperiment along with some side-tracking.

Highway 169 runs on the west side of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and despite it being out of the city, there are several memories associated with that road.  One of the most salient was when my family would take the Badger Blacktop to D14 (now 170th Street), and then take a left on 169.  A small neighborhood to the left when we were traveling was home to Carli, one of our most frequent babysitters.  Those nights were always enjoyable, as she really seemed to build a rapport with our family.

One time, we approached from the south rather than the north, when Carli was driving us with Mom and Dad out of town.  It was a stormy day, and in her red Dodge Neon, the radio had an “ATT” button that I had never heard before.  I asked her what it did, and she pressed it.  “ATT” stands for Attenuate, so therefore the music got quieter.  The only other time I had seen “Att.” as an abbreviation was in the video game Chrono Trigger, where “Att.” was “Attack.”

Since I mentioned the south, I might as well continue south on the highway.  At U.S. 169 and Iowa 7, the northeast corner houses the Best Western Starlite Village hotel, where we went to a few birthday parties of friends there.  If we were to head westward on Iowa 7, we would reach Manson, where Dad sometimes had to do doctor stuff there.  That town also was where I got an Iowa map shirt that I wore from elementary school all the way up until high school when I outgrew it.  It remains a Keeper in my wardrobe.  Oh, and I also participated in a Pinewood Derby there.

Let me say something else about the Starlite Village.  In 2004, I had visited Fort Dodge with my family for RAGBRAI, Dragon Boating, and rendezvous with old friends.  During that year, one of the more popular songs (that I actually liked!) was Accidentally In Love by the Counting Crows.  The first few times I heard the song, I misheard the lyrics “Belting out sunlight, shimmering love” by hearing “sunlight” as “starlight.”  Therefore, it indirectly led back to Fort Dodge, and in particular, it reminded me of the evening with some of my elementary school friends.  I posted on this back in May of last year.

Past this, a viaduct and partial cloverleaf interchange leads to the Country Club and downtown, along with the downhill side of the tough bike ride that we did on occasion–up the river’s bridge on a children’s bike with a single speed!  I’ll skip ahead from this, as although I am thankful for those rides now, they were certainly traumatizing at the time!

Not very far from this intersection was our gateway to Fort Dodge.  It was the intersection of Business US 20 and US 169.  The red lights looked more pink, and to the left is The Fort Museum Historical District and Iowa Central Community College.  I played soccer games at the latter, and then on the right side of the highway, there was a McDonald’s that was built when I lived there, as well as Tom Thumb, which inspired the post earlier in my blog about temperature perceptions: Hot and Cool.

And 169 continues, of course, past Fort Dodge.  The north meant Humboldt, which was part of our annual Christmas light tour, as well as once when our Christmas movie was Beethoven’s Second at the movie theatre there.  The south meant the Webster County Fair, Demolition Derby, and the house of mason jars and vinegar which may have been one of Mom’s impetuses to start Holy Tamole!

This concludes this laundry list down Memory Highway.

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Today is the one-hundred and sixty-ninth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twenty-four weeks and one day.

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