Eastern Kansas – my new favorite state. Beautiful!
Looking forward to leaving our experience in Nebraska behind we packed our gear, ate a breakfast of cold cereal and hot coffee, put the dogs in the van and took off. During our travel south through the middle of the state on secondary highways we took time (at my insistance) to drive through tiny, old Ruskin, Nebraska. Hubby didn’t think the visit would be important but he enjoyed seeing where his dad was born and had spent his early childhood before moving to Oregon. He later thanked me for insisting we take the slight detour to visit Ruskin.
I expected Kansas to be like Nebraska: flat, boring, , hot and muggy with mile after mile of cornfields. It may have been hot and muggy. Who can tell about the heat from the front seat of an air conditioned vehicle, but the scenery was nothing at all like Nebraska.
In our eastward trek across the country hubby and I found ourselves driving along I-70 through grass- and tree-covered rolling hills. It looked like horse country. Between Topeka and Kansas City we saw elegant old buildings, verdant fields, and long rows of trees along the fence lines. I suppose life there is just as busy and harried as anywhere else in America but the feeling I got as we drove through the area was one of peace, gentility and an appreciation for beauty. I greatly regretted not having time to explore the various places we passed. I would have liked to explore some of the back roads, and the grand old buildings in downtown Kansas City intrigued me. There were large, old square buildings with interesting architecture and beautiful churches with tall steeples. Because of the roadside guardrails I wasn’t able to see nearly as much as I wanted to.
Kansas City is one of those metropolises that exist on both sides of a state line and we only had to cross a bridge over the Missouri River to find ourselves in Kansas City, Missouri. The state seems to have very few campgrounds and after stopping in in the city for dinner and fuel we started looking for a motel. We had been staying at Motel 6 facilities because we knew our dogs would be welcome without being charged an extra fee so we began looking for one.
We traveled 57 miles in Missouri before we gave up and pulled into a freeway rest stop long after sundown. The grounds and service building were beautiful but the weather was horrible – hot and humid without a trace of a breeze – even after midnight. It will horrify some of you but we actually slept with the van doors open. At one point hubby even laid a blanket out on the grass and slept there, only about forty feet from a motorbike rider that had chosen a concrete picnic table for his bed.
We had a too-short but restful sleep. There’s nothing like having four-footed alarm systems for sleeping without the worry of being attacked without warning. We awoke shortly after sunup, pottied and fed the dogs, rearranged my front seat “bed” and got on the road shortly after 6:30 a.m.
We found some of our least expensive gasoline on our trip through Missouri — $3.299 per gallon.
Our goal up until July 3rd had been to reach our daughter’s home on the evening of July 4th or morning of July 5th in order to see the Independence Day fireworks at Stone Mountain Park, Georgia. In the past Stone Mountain has put on a three-day show on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of July. I received a phone call from her on the morning of the 3rd informing us that Stone Mountain was moving the celebration to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th because those dates coincided with a weekend. She wanted to know how soon we could make it — if we thought we could be there in time to go to the Park with them.
Our daughter has been in Atlanta for fifteen years and we have been able to spend a holiday with her on only two occasions. Keeping that in mind I sensed it was important to her that we arrive at her house in time to share the 4th of July with her. To that end we decided that we would blast our way through as many miles on the July 3rd as possible.
We finally reached St. Louis, Missouri in the afternoon. We exited the freeway to go to the Gateway Arch Park. The arch was enormous. I had intended to have hubby snap a picture of me standing under the arch but if you could get back far enough to capture the entire arch it would be impossible to tell who the human ant standing under the arch was. It all turned out to be a moot point, however, because a fire had forced closure of the park and we couldn’t get in. We drove on past and crossed the Mississippi River into East St. Louis, Illinois.
Hubby and I drove through the southwest corner of Illinois in the afternoon. The most memorable thing about the state was the weather. The humidity is a killer. It must have been 80-90%. We were dripping while standing still. Not wanting to leave the air-conditioned comfort of our air-conditioned van we didn’t stop for anything but bathroom breaks.
It was a long, long day. The scenery in western Tennessee is very much like the Coast Range or the western side of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. We drove as far as Nashville, Tennessee. Having gotten bad directions from a local and driving in a circle for an hour looking for the motel we wanted we finally gave up and chose another. I would have liked to spend time sightseeing in Kentucky and Tennessee but getting to our daughter’s by the 4th was the goal. We’d traveled 2,514 miles in seven days and had one more day to go.