The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘I-70’

A Mile High Post

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on May 12, 2010

IMG_9071Across the lackluster plains of Kansas today, we mired through the miserable repetition.  It took forever, but we made it.  Kansas took forever to get through.  From Topeka to Denver, the drive is over 500 miles, without a single city with a building over four stories to break up the drive.  The drive to the Colorado boarder alone is 350 miles.

Actually, while the drive is long and monotonous, but it does have its upsides, and the misery of the trip is greatly overrated.  To start with, the landscape is not nearly as featureless as others might have you believe.  While it’s true that it is mile after mile… after mile of farmland, it’s not all uniform.  There are grain elevators and all sorts of crops, of which corn was actually not that prevalent.  I still love corn, in fact.  There were also plenty of animals, from cattle to antelope along the entire trip.  The terrain goes from flat plains through mild hills to high plains.  Deciduous trees appear and disappear and new evergreens reappear.  While the drive was long and tedious, at no time did I feel “defeated” by I-70. 

IMG_9000On the topic of I-70 in Kansas, here are a couple notes to keep in mind.  First, a good portion of it was a toll road.  That just frustrates me when a sizeable section of a “freeway” is a toll road, with no other viable alternative, as far as we could tell.  What are my federal tax dollars going toward, again?  Second, the entire state is almost completely uphill.  The elevation of Kansas City is 750 feet, while the elevation of Goodland, KS is almost 3,700 feet.  As you drive along, you begin to feel compassion for salmon swimming upstream.  There’s nothing you can do about it and you don’t have a choice, unless you want to stay in Kansas. 

The day started with heavy fog, which got heavier throughout the morning.  At some points, the fog was so thick that we needed to reduce speed to feel comfortable.  The REALLY thick fog only lasted a little while, but it was significant.  Eventually, the weather cleared up and we just kept heading along. 

IMG_8896Aside from the terrain, though, Kansas had several wonderfully eccentric sights to see, but we had no time to see them!  The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.  Fort Riley and Marshall Field, home of the First Infantry Division.   The world’s largest prairie dog.   We even passed the Harry S. Truman’s Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri.  Too much to see and not nearly enough time to see it. 

As the miles rolled by, and we tried to stay on schedule, we stopped for gas and finished our book on CD.  The book was great.  Finally, we reached Denver; a truly welcome site.  As we reached Denver, the weather was getting crummy again.  We took some pictures of downtown, just before the snow started to fall.

IMG_9087 The weather has been up and down tonight, going from low visibility and heavy snow to no snow and much better visibility.  Hopefully, the weather holds up long enough to allow us to get out tomorrow.  Unfortunately, however, we’ll be heading right into the mountains as we cruise on.  We’ll see where it all goes. 

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Road Trip Howdy from KC

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on May 11, 2010

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As the Wife alluded to, I’m headed out with my father, cross-country to get my car from coast to coast.  I’m excited about it on several levels really.  First, it’s another opportunity to see things I’ve never seen before.  I can’t say that I’m excited about driving another 2,300 miles, only 2 weeks after my last cross-country trip, and only 6 weeks after driving the same distance in Australia, but I do love to drive, and the car’s got to get out West SOMEHOW.  Second, it’s an opportunity to spend dozens of hours penned up with a man that’s exactly like me.  What could go wrong?

So we’re off.  Last night, we stayed in Homer, OH; my dad’s hometown.  We rolled in late, after 10 pm, since we got a late start on the day from Northern Virginia.  It’s an easy drive for us, as we’ve made the trip dozens of times since I was little.  My parents moved to Northern Virginia in 1981, and effectively all of my extended family lived in Ohio up until the mid-90s, when several of them began to branch out across the country, from South Carolina, to Massachusetts, to Colorado.  I’ve made the drive so many times, both as a passenger and a driver, that I could nearly do it in my sleep. 

I would have liked to have gotten pictures of the “Welcome to…” signs, but alas, in my rush to get packed and off to the airport on Saturday night for my red-eye into IAD, I forgot my point-and-shoot camera.  The DSLR really has challenges taking great pictures of those signs at highway speeds.  Additionally, as we wended through the hills of Virginia, into West Virginia, into Maryland, back to West Virginia, into Pennsylvania, and once again through West Virginia, it might appear that we were somehow bending space and time with our inability to escape West Virginia.  Maybe, for my own credibility, it’s best that I don’t take pictures of all the “Welcome to…” signs.

Even though I’ve made the trip so many times, it’s actually been a long time since I’ve done the trip with any of my family.  Through college and beyond, it always seemed like I was making the trip by myself, or maybe with a friend, so doing it with Dad was effectively a new experience for me.  He’s made the trips more times than he can count (despite his B.S. in Math), particularly since he retired about a year ago.  His father is going on 93, genes that I have hopefully inherited, and Dad makes it a point to go see G-pa about monthly. 

Because of the frequency with which Pops goes to see G-pa, he knows the route VERY well.  SO well, in fact, the he can narrate almost the entire trip.  How do I know?  I have first-hand knowledge of every “There’s a stop sign coming up,” “You’ll want to be in the left lane here,” and ”Don’t go too fast around this corner,” despite entirely adequate signage throughout the duration of the trip.  It pains me to think that we are so alike, because I know inevitably I will be just like him.  In the mean time, I comfort myself with the self-denial of “I’ll NEVER be like THAT.”  As I sit in the passenger seat and hear myself say, “Hey, get over.  There’s a pack of cars merging.” I nearly choke on the sour irony as I try to reel the words back into my throat.  My poor wife.

I also comfort myself with the thought that the NEXT day, we would be leaving area so familiar to us both, and would rely on our wits to get around.  How could he possibly direct me, if he didn’t know the landscape like the back of his hand?  Little did I realize that as we left Ohio, and moved into Indiana, the knowledge of the terrain was immaterial to the narration.  As if I were Helen Keller deciding to take a road trip, my father “assists” me with road signs and directions, since clearly I either can’t read them myself, or I’m simply not paying attention, and clearly the GPS is just providing an “opinion” of how to reach our destination.

In all honesty, though, the trip is going well, and I think we’re having a great time.  We have great conversations, and when we begin to wander off too far into our own thoughts, we have books on CD to help pass the time.  The days have been long; 400 miles yesterday with a late start, and another 700 miles today.  We stop for gas and usually couple these stops with a nice take-out meal from the convenience store.  Nothing says healthy living like two cups of coffee, donuts and a chocolate chip cookie, but to be honest, I think it’s probably better for me than the salad that doesn’t look so good, and doesn’t have an expiration date.  Later, we’ll make reverse-coffee stops, as necessary, but we try to stay as close to the highway as possible.  Tonight, hopefully we’ll be able to have a nice salad at a local restaurant.

We passed through Indianapolis and around St. Louis.  We were hoping to make a quick detour at the Arch, but the construction re-routed us around the city, so we really weren’t anywhere close to the downtown area.  That was unfortunate.  I did get a couple pictures of Indianapolis, though, including this one of the Colts’ Oil Drum.

IMG_8861Today was our longest day, with almost 11 hours on the road.  Our next couple days should all be shorter, and we’re hoping to be able to capitalize on the time in Golden to see a brewery (potentially Coors if we have time), and to go see Buffalo Bill’s grave.  It’s a long haul from Kansas City, though, so we’ll have to see how it all plays out.  I hear Kansas is a miserable state to traverse on I-70.  I’m a corn person, just ask the Wife.  I Love corn, and have high standards for my corn when I eat it.  I have a feeling, after roughly 500 miles of nothing but corn fields, I MAY have a different opinion.

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