February 27th, 2017

Well, it’s been a busy few days. Let me catch you up…

My last night in a hotel was two nights ago in Hays, KS. I pushed a little farther that day so I could have a short run yesterday and get in Leavenworth at a decent time, which ended up being shortly after noon. This is the first trip I have driven on this highway in five years.

While driving there is always lots of time to think and yesterday was no exception. Eastbound and down on I-70 in Kansas made me think about all the trips I made on this highway over the decades. (cue the dream sequence and music…) Family vacations almost always were to the mountains and they were always great trips. It was classic Americana – blue 1962 Chevy II Nova station wagon, blankets piled high on the folded-down seats in the back and… oh wait…”Seatbelts?”, you ask? What are seatbelts? Hell no, no seatbelts even in the car as I remember. My sister and I kicked back on that cottony cloud and rode in style (except for her looking out my window)! I remember I used to wait for the first rest area to leap out get one of the “FREE! Highway Maps!” that used to be at all the Kansas ret areas. I hop back in the back and get out a crayon or marker and anxiously follow the route on my map, drawing on the map the whole way. For some odd reason, however, it never happened with the other states. Perhaps it was because there was scenery to look at. MANY vacations spent in Colorado and probably planted that love for the mountains that I have. Ironic that I actually ended up living there for 17 years. I remember my Grandparents had a 28′ Yellowstone trailer and pulled it with a Chevy Suburban that got THREE MILES PER GALLON!!! Ha, and it was still affordable to drive!

And the places to stop and the things to see! World’s Largest Prairie Dog and the 6-legged cow AND two-headed rattlesnake? Check! (Bonus if you saw the signs leading up to it!) Rock City? You need to ask again? Eisenhower’s grave? Yep. How about a lookout tower? Saw that many times.

Then came trips after I got older. Leaving immediately after work and driving all night since I was young and bulletproof, having only one AM station on the radio in western KS – man how I LOVED those hog future reports at 5 AM. Sunrise soon! I remember one night I came across a station airing a syndicated radio show called “Hearts of Space”. Very interesting and eclectic selection of music, especially at three or four in the morning, but I enjoyed the difference in what was being played. Hearing “Rocky Mountain High come on the radio and the sunrise hits the mountains just as I pull into the first view of the mountains and understanding what it’s really about. That was an absolutely magical moment for me. More radio stations appeared with rock music (finally!) and FM spread like crazy. Yay! No more cassette tapes! After one trip I took, I drove straight to work from Colorado and worked all day. I was maximizing my vacation time!

I remember one trip with a friend and were driving back all night after a trip saddled with car trouble. Half the week was spent dealing with car issues. Japanese cars needing parts were SOL…not to be found as readily as today. So we are stopped at a rest area and we are sitting outside on a bench near the building catching some fresh air trying to wake up, and we hear this noise. It gets louder and louder and this big charter bus comes screaming into the rest area  just hauling ass. He’s gotta be doing 60. Seriously, 60 MPH through a rest area! We just watched this happen and it was a real WTF moment. It was a church group and they were shaking pretty good when they ran right the hell off that bus. Apparently the brakes went out and they had an expert behind the wheel whole kept his cool. No… don’t say it…

The sights, you may ask? Well, I believe Rock City may have folded (do not remember seeing signs any longer), Ike ain’t moved, the Lookout Tower is closed but they are renovating and hoping to reopen soon, and the animal freakshow – I did not see if it was still around or not. A new sight or two can be added – the Cozy Inn in Salina, KS for those damn tasty little burgers, ANY Taco John’s, and hundreds of wind generators. No matter where you go there are usually things of some interest to see.

I came across an app a couple of years ago for iPhones called “iExit”. It will tell you things along your route after you input a little info on the road you are taking. I have used it a few times and it seems to work very well. I’d recommend giving it a try.

It really worked out pretty well. I was able to start working in the trailer and made a lot of headway in organizing things and trying to get situated fast and early so my entire trip is not spent messing with it. I got people to visit! Today I was able to get pretty much done so I am pleased with the progress made. Just a few little things tomorrow and it’ll be ready. That should give me nearly two full days to hang and help my dad with things he needs help with.

Yesterday, after I got done with the trailer I visited here at the house for a bit then went to see an old friend that I have not seen in nearly 20 years. It was good to catch up. We took quite different paths in life but we were really tight in school. It was really good to see him again.

Chelsea came out today and she took me out for lunch to an Irish Pub in Leavenworth named Marfield’s that served a mighty tasty burger. We got to chat some more and she told me that her baby is going to be a girl and the package will arrive earlier. I was not wanting to find out but she told me! She’s also taking good care of the Explorer!

I hope to get to Rosedale’s for THE best barbecue anywhere and it may be Wednesday with any luck. Tomorrow I’ll be wrapping up the few last little trailer items in about an hour and start looking at the weather and think about the route going home.


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