Category Archives: Kansas

The End of The Journey Kansas To NYC

September 13, 2007

The end of the journey. The states are getting smaller and I find myself scrambling for maps much more frequently. I know, I could just follow the signs for highway 50 east, but I like to have the full picture in front of me.

Midway USA marker, equal distance to San Francisco and New York.

Midway USA marker, equal distance to San Francisco and New York.

So I left Lawrence, Kansas and headed through Missouri to St. Louis. Kansas is very flat until you are east of Emporia and all of a sudden there are trees again and even rolling hills, big surprise. Highway 50 in western Missouri felt a little like a roller coaster, without the upside-down loop. Constant dipping down little hills and up again. Not that flat driving you experience on the interstate. The trees had moved closer to the road and it was all green again. I hadn’t seen anything forest like since Washington State. Yes, there are trees in Oregon and the redwood trees in northern California and of course there are also trees in Colorado, but those are not the dense forests you find in the east. At least not where I drove. I know I still owe you the report for the stretch from Bellingham to San Francisco. Hopefully, I have time over the weekend to write.

OK, back to Missouri. It was really wonderful I could look over the tree tops of the forests as far as my eyes could see, all green. Since I had a pretty late start in the morning, I only made it to St. Louis that day. The weather was gray and on the rainy side. I took very few pictures on the last stretch from Kansas to NYC. The weather was not great and the light was hazy and just not good enough for photos.   I only wanted to see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and of course the weather was so gray that I could barely distinguish between the silver metal of the arch and the gray of the sky. I just made it back to the car in time before the skies opened up and it started to pour.

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

The last leg of this trip is a little blurry. I drove through seven states in just three days and I have a hard time remembering the differences between the states.

St. Louis to Louisville, Kentucky. More fields in Illinois, I think they might have been soybean fields. Once I got into Indiana the leaves on the trees started to change, yellow and red. Not sure if those were already fall colors or if the trees were distressed from the lack of rain. Instead of continuing straight east I dipped southeast to Louisville. Spent the night at a KOA just outside of town. It was weird to camp so close to a large city. It was my last night of camping. I really enjoyed camping. I never had to worry if the mattress was too soft or if the room might smell, as it was the case in several motels. A friend of mine had given me some tips where to go in Louisville and I spent some time the next morning exploring. Actually, I spent more time than I thought I would. I was torn between wanting to get home as soon as possible and at the same time I didn’t want the trip to end. I had looked at the map in the morning and figured that I could make it to Washington D.C. or at least very close

Chancellor-Burwell-Lowe House - Parkersburg, West Virginia

Chancellor-Burwell-Lowe House – Parkersburg, West Virginia

to it by nightfall. Oh, I was so wrong, but I wouldn’t find out until much later in the day. From Louisville I drove to Lexington. Another friend had told me about a beautiful stretch of highway between Lexington and Paris. Yes, there is a Paris in Kentucky too and another one in Virginia. That stretch of highway was really beautiful, wide rolling meadows, unfortunately not very green, divided by black horse fences. Not too many horses out on the meadows, it was pretty hot. Eventually, I ended up again on hwy 50 in Ohio and that’s when it hit me that I was still way over 300 miles west of D.C. There is not much of anything between Hillsboro, OH and Washington D.C. Lots of little towns/villages without any motels and no campgrounds. I hate when I don’t know where I’ll spend the night. Athens, OH seemed to be my best bet. Ever heard of Athens? Home of the Ohio University. After calling several places, I checked in at a Super 8 motel. Must have been very new, everything was clean and no funny carpet smell.

Old warehouse - Parkersburg, West Virginia

Old warehouse – Parkersburg, West Virginia

The drive from Athens to D.C. went mainly through West Virginia. A lot of mountain driving. Narrow roads with tons of tight curves and a lot of uphill driving. It was very pretty and the woods smelled like fall. I didn’t do this much mountain driving in Colorado. I passed thru several interesting little towns with nice old brick buildings.

By late afternoon I made it to D.C. Oh what fun driving on 495. Hadn’t seen that many cars since I-5 in Washington State. I spent two nights at my friends’ place in D.C. before heading home to NYC. Just a little more procrastinating. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see all my friends in D.C.

The drive into Manhattan was pretty emotional. Seeing the skyline from New Jersey just made me crumble. The trip was over and I was home again. It felt like a load was taking of my shoulders. I finally could get the much needed rest. But before I could get that much needed rest I would have to deal with the NYC parking issues. I got into town at rush hour and traffic on First Avenue was hell. I did get a spot around the corner of my apartment and started unloading. I was lucky to get another spot in front of my building to get the big bags unloaded. All in all it took 2 ½ hours to unload. That included driving around the block several times and waiting to be legally parked. I was so tired that I didn’t read all the parking regulations. I only knew that I had to feed the meter at 9 AM. Well, I didn’t read the part that read no parking from 8:30 AM – 9 AM. So the trip ended the same way it started, with a parking ticket. I really didn’t care at that point anymore.

I have been home since Monday evening and I still haven’t gotten enough sleep. I am looking forward to the weekend. This is the first time in weeks that I have been thinking in terms of weekdays and weekend.

As mentioned earlier, I will send one more road report and a recap of the entire trip.

That’s it for now. Have to go to work!!

We are in Kansas Dorothy!

September 3, 2007

We are in Kansas Dorothy! And boy is it flat.

OK, here are the subject lines if I had written an e-mail every day.

Friday: I am so stupid, stupid, stupid

Saturday: This is absolutely mind blowing

Sunday: I just want to get home

Monday: This is a small world/what does it mean

Let me explain. On Friday I continued to drive on the loneliest highway in the US, hwy 50, to Utah.

Highway 50 looking east towards the Snake Range, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Highway 50 looking east towards the Snake Range, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

East of Ely the mountain ranges changed. They used to run mostly parallel to the highway, but now they ran perpendicular to the highway. Once I drove thru one, a valley opened up and the next range was just a few miles away. Amazing, you just can’t get bored with stuff like that.

Once again I was hunting down a ghost town. What a disappointment. Luckily, it was not as creepy as the last one. I would not call this place a town. All that was left were some mining shafts and the usual rotten car. All that after driving up a mountain for a few miles on a dirt road at 10-15 mph.

Ghost Town - old mining hoist

Ghost Town – old mining hoist

I did make it into Utah. I can’t remember exactly how the mountains changed, but they did. Might have been the color or the shape, it seems so long ago. I think the mountains moved further away. There is really not much going on along this highway, towns are tiny and it comes as a surprise when they are bigger, like Delta. All of a sudden there were trees alongside the road, hadn’t seen those in a couple of days. The trees changed into a little green oasis and morphed into cultivated fields.

Fishlake National Forest north of Holden.

Fishlake National Forest north of Holden.

At the beginning of the day I had thought I make it to the KOA in Green River, near Moab and Arches National Park.  Later in the day I had settled for Richfield, about 100 miles west of Green River. Highway 50 merges with interstate 70 soon after Delta all the way to Grand Junction, Colorado. I asked a lady at a gas station in Delta when the sun sets; at around 8:30 – 9 PM. It was only 7 PM and according to the guy at the KOA in Green River it would only take two hours from where I was to Green River. If I get to Green River that evening, I could photograph the arches in good morning light. If I stay in Richfield, I would get to the arches by noon and the light would be very harsh. What do I have to lose, it’s only interstate driving. Nothing ever happens on the interstate, it’s boring. At most I would be driving for ½ in the dark, not bad. Well, this is where the “I am stupid” comes in.  Not too long after I got on I-70 I realized that this was not your usual stretch of interstate. By 8 PM! It was dark and all I could see were silhouettes of some mighty big mountains. Turnouts were marked as “Devil’s Canyon”, “Ghost Rock”. I couldn’t turn around, there were only few exits and I was too far along. I made a mistake! I could kick myself. I made it to the campsite by 9 PM. Setting up tent in the dark is a piece of cake, especially with a headlight.

San Rafael Reef, off exit 149 of I-70

San Rafael Reef, off exit 149 of I-70

Saturday morning I was debating for some time if I should drive back and see what I had missed. I stopped by the visitor center and decided to drive back 50 miles and than drive on to see the arches. I set a new record; it took me four hours to drive the 50 miles going back west! That’s how much there was to see and I didn’t miss a turnout to take pictures. Going back east took only one hour. This area is absolutely mind blowing, amazing, unbelievable, fascinating, did I mention mind blowing? Only Mother Nature can create something this beautiful. The mountains were white with red, yellow, green, round or rugged, some looked wind blown in one direction, just unbelievable. Never mind the canyons. Great area for hiking and rock climbing. I am sooooooo glad I went back.

I-70 east bound thru the San Rafael Reef.

I-70 east bound thru the San Rafael Reef.

East of Green River, the mountains got smaller, more like big sand piles with little bushes.   I turned south to go to the Arches National Park. Without much notice, the earth turned red and the mountains and rocks were deep red. The sunlight was perfect afternoon light when I got to the park. I had little more than 3 hours until sunset. I picked up a map and brochure at the visitor center. The brochure indicated which areas would be best photographed in the morning or afternoon, very helpful. Unfortunately, some of the arches could only be reached on foot. Two hour round trip hike, considered strenuous. It was 95F/35C and I was not up to the challenge. So I did the car thing, stopped where possible and walked in some cases. I

Horseshoe Bend, detail, in the San Rafael Swell north of I-70 west of exit 131.

Horseshoe Bend, detail, in the San Rafael Swell north of I-70 west of exit 131.

would like to come back to this place and spend more time exploring. Some of the rocks looked perfectly round, others looked like skinny walls. Do you remember making sand castles at the beach out of very wet sand? Letting the sand drip through your fingers. Some of the rocks looked like that. If you didn’t make those sand castles, cow manure drops in a similar fashion. All of the rocks, pinnacles and mountains were really, really red. I had only enough time to see one of the arches and a place called Windows. Rocks with giant holes. Unfortunately, there were again those people around. Luckily, not anywhere as bad as in Yellowstone.

Eagle Canyon - San Rafael Swell, I-70 exit 116.

Eagle Canyon – San Rafael Swell, I-70 exit 116.

Spent the night at the KOA in Moab. What a lousy night it was, couldn’t fall asleep and than woke up at 3 AM with the wind howling. The tent held up well, but when you are laying there and the wind is pressing against the walls of the tent you feel a little vulnerable. It was otherwise a beautiful night, the noon shone brightly, the stars were out in full force and it was warm, even at 3 AM.

Well, the next morning I was dead tired, coffee helped only moderately. I decided against seeing anymore of the sites in the area, would have been a waste on me. I headed for the Colorado border. After seeing so much amazing landscape, Colorado just couldn’t hold a candle to it or is it a light?

Arches National Park - Park Avenue

Arches National Park – Park Avenue

The mountains had moved closer to the road, no more wide open spaces. It is almost a blur to me, I was too tired and all I wanted was to get to a campsite and even more so, I want to get home! I remember a line of trees on top of a mountain ridge, looked kind of neat. The western part of Colorado was not anywhere as green and lush as I thought it would be. Still looked a little rugged. I had to drive over two major passes, one was around 7,000’ high and the other, Monarch Pass, measured over 11,000’. Coming down the first pass I looked down onto the Blue Mesa Reservoir, sunlight hitting the surrounding mountains, wow. No pullover possibility, no photo. The skies were gray and it rained from time to time. The drive along the Arkansas River was quite beautiful.

Arches National Park - Garden of Eden

Arches National Park – Garden of Eden

That night I was asleep at 9:30 PM. Unfortunately, I woke up with a nasty headache. I had no interest in seeing much of anything. I was in Cañon City, known for its Supermax prison…

After an amazingly good breakfast, veggie omelet with fresh! veggies I drove towards the Kansas border. I will be taking highway 50 all the way east.

Monarch Pass, Continental Divide

Monarch Pass, Continental Divide

The landscape started to flatten out, no more mountains and that even before I got to Kansas.

The old St. Cloud Hotel, Main Street

The old St. Cloud Hotel – Cañon City

Highway 50 sign

Highway 50 sign – Kansas

This is a really small world. In Rocky Ford, Colorado I managed to get stuck in a ditch, nothing serious, but I knew I wouldn’t get out of it by myself. I walked to a farm stand around the corner and they pulled me out. We got talking and it turns out that a friend of the owner’s daughter went to New

Old Coca Cola bottling building.

Old Coca Cola bottling building – Rocky Ford

York this summer to take ballet classes at the Joffrey Ballet School. She more than likely participated in the performance which I photographed. What are the odds?

Ingalls feed yard

Feed yard

Now I am in Dodge City, staying at the Holiday Motel. No camp grounds around. Not much happening in Kansas. Lots of feed yards around, not a pretty site and very smelly. This place is flat as a pancake.

Fields along highway 50

Fields along highway 50 – Kansas

Here are a few stats. miles driven: 10,000, nights in a motel: 11, nights with friends: 13, nights camped: 20, oil changes: getting ready for the third.

Sorry, that this is such a long e-mail. I just had to get it all down before I forget even more.

I’ll be home soon,

P.S. Leaving Lawrence Kansas in a minute, had to pay credit cards first, thanks to Starbucks & T-mobile.

We don’t choose the road we travel, the road chooses us

Well, at least some times. Let me explain. Before I left Joplin I had mapped out a route to Laurence, Kansas where I was visiting a friend. The idea was to head straight west out of Joplin into Kansas where I would head north on highway 59. I have no idea what possessed me or why I changed my mind as I was already sitting in the truck and was ready to go. I just said: “I would like to spend a little more time in Missouri.” So instead of heading west, I went 60 miles north and then west on hwy 54 towards Fort Scott, Kansas.

Restored historic Fort Scott

I was already in the turning lane when something struck my eye and I decided to check out Fort Scott instead of bypassing it. I had not researched the place nor had I ever heard of it. Was I in for a treat! I am not a big history buff, especially when it comes to the American War and the Civil War. I am much more interested in the architecture of the town. The town of Fort Scott has done a great job restoring its old buildings from the mid / late 1800s. I don’t think that I have seen many small towns which managed to revitalize their historic district like Fort Scott. I even felt like doing a little shopping, not one of my favorite pastimes. I stopped in at the life+style kitchen supply / cooking store on Main Street. I bought some wonderful oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies, yummy and asked one of the ladies working in the store what I need to see given that I only had 15 minutes. Cynthia said that I had to see the Twin Mansions just a few blocks down the road. She picked up the phone and called the owner of the Twins, now a Bed & Breakfast place (, to find out if she had time to show me the home. The funny thing was that Cynthia first misdialed the number for the Twins, but still knew the person at the other end by name, it is a small town. I was in luck, Pat the B & B owner had time and she gave me a full tour of one of the twins built by a banker back in the 1870s. Beautiful woodwork, high ceilings, just what you would expect of a

Lyons Twin Mansions Bed & Breakfast

grand Victorian house. If I hadn’t already told my friend that I was coming that day (I had originally planned on being there by Memorial Day) I would have spent the rest of the day exploring Fort Scott. Hopefully, there will be a next time. You just never know what happens when you don’t stick with your plans.
I am skipping over my visit at my friend’s place, the beautiful Flint Hill area and the rest of my stay in Kansas for the time being.
About 14 years ago I spent the night in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was on a business trip driving a big van from Los Angeles to Chicago. You can tell I like to drive. I remember that I liked Lincoln, I didn’t really know why, it was one of those feeling you get when you enter a town. Now that I was back in Nebraska I wanted to check out the place more closely. I didn’t recognize anything and I didn’t have this immediate, “I really like this place” feeling either. Lincoln has grown by leaps and bounds since I visited last (1997 pop. 211,000 / 2010 – 258,000). I would call it a big small city, State capital and home of the University of Nebraska. I spent the morning hours driving around town and I liked what I saw. The old manufacturing buildings of the Haymarket had been converted to shops, restaurants and bars. The commercial main streets were busy, but the residential neighborhoods were nice and quiet. Several parks and tree lined streets. People, mainly students, were biking everywhere, a rare sight in a large American city. It is also a walkable city, to some extend. Would I move here, I don’t know. I saw a sign for a 750 sq. ft. one bedroom apartment for $425, don’t know what the wages are like, but you can’t even get a garage parking spot for that kind of money in New York City.

The Haymarket - Lincoln

Lincoln has a variety of ethnic grocery stores, thanks to a diverse population, a big plus. However, fresh fish is hard to get in the middle of the country. I had dinner at the Capital City Grill and I ordered tuna, again. This time it was prepared the way it should be, but I could tell the fish had been frozen. There is just nothing better than nice fresh fish. I can’t wait to go to one of my favorite seafood restaurants in NYC, Ocean Grill, and order some crab cakes.
I am getting a little off track, sorry. I didn’t want to spend another night in Lincoln and was loading my camper back onto the

Sunken Gardens - Lincoln

truck when I noticed that one of the turning signals on the camper wasn’t working. It was a wiring problem and a broken bulb. It took me a bit to fix both. The signal works, but I still get a fault message in the truck, not good. Of course when it rains it pours. My inflator for the airbags, additional support for the rear suspension, did not work. It worked just fine yesterday. I can’t really drive safely with a heavy load (last weigh-in 11,000 lbs.!!!) without inflated airbags. Fortunately, a fellow camper had a compressor and inflated the bags. At this point it was three o’clock and my mood was not so rosy any more. Bare with me, I am getting to the point.
Once again, I had picked a route before all this happened, but guess what, I didn’t stick with it. Since I left Nevada, I have gotten more comfortable with camping outside of regular campgrounds, i.e. parking lots or streets; the big plus: no charge, the disadvantage: no hook-ups. But with increasing temperatures I am less dependent on electricity since my solar panel charges my batteries. I just have to find a place to dump gray and black water every couple of days. As I was driving along, I started to fade, four o’clock energy lull. All I was thinking of was asking a farmer if I could stay on his land for the night. Just north of Prague, really, was a sign for a recreational area at a lake, I missed the first turn off, put managed to pull into the second one. To my delight it was a very small campground, only 8 or 9 sites, no hook-ups, a beautiful quiet setting and NO charge. There are only few campgrounds where you can stay for free, some even with hook-ups. It might be difficult for you city rats to get excited about campgrounds and hook-ups, but if you have been on the road for as long as I have (today 15 months!), this is gold. There is only one other guy here with his truck and boat, should be a quiet night at the Czechland Lake. Thank you Mother Road!

I received this e-mail today from Joplin and I would like to pass it on to everyone.

The AmeriCorps groups here currently need more volunteers to help us with debris removal, home deconstruction, data entry, call center support, and warehouse support. If you are able to volunteer again, or come for the first time we would greatly appreciate it.

Please contact the volunteer hotline if you have: heavy machinery, want to schedule a group, or want to volunteer as an individual. The number is available from 9am-5pm. Volunteer hotline is: 417-625-3543. Walk-ins are always welcomed just go to the MSSU football field to check in.