We began our bittersweet journey home after an early breakfast with my family in Denver. We took I-70 across almost all of Kansas, save for a detour for some Kansas City barbecue! Finally, we took I-70 across most of Missouri to a motel in High Hill, about 30 minutes outside the St. Louis area.
So we were back on the road again. When you’re headed east from Denver, the plains of Colorado and Kansas look pretty much the same until you get close to Kansas City…and then there are some trees. And then you cross Missouri.
OK, just kidding! Actually, the reason we were driving across Kansas in the first place was because I wanted to have something eventful to look forward to along the way home. There was a real temptation to take I-80 back through two states I’d never seen before, Nebraska and Iowa, but the lure of Kansas City barbecue and the Gateway Arch along I-70 thwarted it. Besides that, I didn’t know of anything pressing I wanted to see except for maybe Chimney Rock along the Oregon Trail.
So after having such a great time and a short time together with my Denver family last night, we all decided we’d get up super duper early to have a last hurrah this morning before Becky and I hit the road. So we woke up at about 5:30am to pack up our car for our two-day voyage home. This went quite easily, as we had no tent to pack up. Kelli was so kind as to supply us with ice from her freezer, so our cooler was even stocked well enough to make it through most of the day.
We all met up at a regional chain breakfast restaurant called Snooze, right off of I-25 on Lincoln Avenue. The food was very good. I had the French toast and fruit, which was well-prepared and came with real maple syrup. The fruit was also fresh and tasty, and obviously not from a frozen bag. Even though we were in a shopping center in a sea of parking lot, the patio was comfortable and far enough from the cars. It was a perfect place to relax one last time with the family before heading out.
All but a few from last night sacrificed their chance to sleep in today to see us off, and I sure appreciated it! Even though it had been several years since we’d spent time together, it felt just like I’d expect family to feel. I’d seen my Aunt Pat in the last couple of years, but I hadn’t seen my cousins Cathy, Kelli, and D.J. much since 2012, when they came in for our grandma’s funeral in my hometown of Wellington, Ohio. And until yesterday, it had been 15 years since I’d seen any of Cathy’s girls. I sure hope it won’t be another 15 years before I see them again!
After breakfast, we stood in the parking lot for several more minutes…finishing our conversations, saying our thank-yous, we’ll-miss-yous, and our last good-byes. They all talked of making plans to come to Ohio since it’s been several years…I hope they make it soon!
On The Road Again
After all the hugs, we drove north up I-25 while I checked prices on GasBuddy. The best price, coincidentally, was at the Sam’s Club off of I-225 and Mississippi Avenue, near where my Aunt Pat lived when I last visited 29 years ago in 1986!
Getting out of the Denver area went smoothly, but as I mentioned, there isn’t much to see along the road across Eastern Colorado and most of Kansas. While it isn’t exactly a void, this part of the country is sparsely populated. The view along I-70 isn’t really too much different from I-90 across South Dakota, except with flatter terrain and fewer trees. Something that’s cool about Eastern Colorado though, is that you can see the glorious Rocky Mountains on the western horizon. You can even single out Pikes Peak from well over 100 miles away. Since I-70 runs southeast for a few dozen miles, it’s fairly easy to look west and enjoy the view when you’re not driving. The highway also parallels a railroad line, with a few opportunities to look out to see entire trains as they cross the plains.
Cows drink from a well near Agate, Colorado. The hazy silhouette of Pikes Peak can be seen on the horizon here, even though it’s over 70 miles away!
My cousins scoffed at how terribly boring and long it is to drive across Kansas, and I have to admit my childhood memories of it are mostly just heat, humidity, and boredom. I talked to my mom a little bit one day while we were at Kelli’s, and expressed that I wasn’t longing for this part of the trip. Interestingly, she had a much more positive spin on Kansas. She liked the rolling grassland and fields, and enjoyed seeing the windmills and water troughs used to water the cattle. So I did my best to keep an open mind about Kansas.
Continue reading RealImaginaryWest Day 17 – Kansas, Kansas, More Kansas, and Kansas City Barbecue