Wednesday, July 6, 2011

westward expansion

6PM CST - July 6, 2011 Somewhere in western Kansas (between Salina and Hayes)

I write this while traveling in a hovel which is the back of my new forester, Justin is driving and Chris is in the front seat and we have put 1506.5 miles behind us since we left home yesterday morning at 3AM and we have another 400 miles to travel today alone. We are traveling along Main Street (I- 70) and going by hundreds of miles of farms, wind and cattle that is all we have seen since lunch in Kansas City. In my 6 hours of driving I managed a good sunburn even though the windows and sun-roof were shut and the AC blasting. Our morning started at the St. Louis Arch with a stop in Independence, MO at the Frontier Trail museum and then Gates BBQ before hightailing it further west.  (BTW the closest thing to salad at Gates was cole slaw). We hope to make Denver by midnight.  This is our grand cross country adventure.

Last night we arrived in Granite City, Illinois at a KOA campground to a bog of levee mud and mosquitoes that made setting up the tent an adventure in itself after a 16 hour drive. We arrived to find our tent poles in bad shape, not sure who checked them before we left...but they should be fired. OK that’s a lie…Too bad I am in mixed company so I cannot comment further. We haven’t had a chance to stop and find new ones today either, so for the next few days I hope my rigging will hold up. We quickly made dinner of ramen and a variety of spices such as seaweed, tamari and chili peppers. We all wish we had an egg. We were so beat after starting off so early with so little sleep. Crawling into a tent was a welcome thing. Sleeping however was an interesting experience, between the freight trains running by the back of our tent every hour and the feral cats choosing last night to start or add to a family, They howled as if there was no tomorrow for a good deal of the night. In any case we were up by 6, showered, packed up and out of there by 7:30. We went off to the Arch and grabbed breakfast at the Mobil Mart before hitting the road for good at 9:30. 

So here I am, riding along in the back of the car, 40 miles later and the scenery has not changed much. Just wondering how long it will take to get out of Kansas and remembering that the last time I drove this way I thought the same thing. 

It is 11:54 PM MST and I am sitting in a Denver La Quinta. We bailed on camping for the night for a few reasons. Numerous construction projects brought I-70 to a two lane road for MILES meaning that our speed was taken down from 80 to 50 which put a big dent in the time. We hit some VERY... NO, lets make that TERRIFYING weather just as we left Goodman, Kansas which continued for 50 miles. We are talking wind blown sheets of rain and hail that were so sideways that the only way we would be able to tell if there were a tornado is if we hit one dead on (COULD NOT SEE). The lightning was on top of us at times, bright, blinding, felt the electricity inside and out (nostril hair raising even). Stopping felt like it would have been dangerous, and driving was definately so... by the time we got to Limon we were so spent from the adrenaline surge that another hour or so was all we could muster, it was already 10PM. Besides, Justin topped off the gas in and it came to 6.66 gallons, he forced another 1.11 gallons in...that will teach them to make fun of all the Jesus signs they have seen since Ohio. I decided being that tired to start off with, making camp at midnight at 9,000 feet would only cause us serious problems (like no sleep) so Denver was a likely choice, it only tacked on 30 minutes to tomorrow's trip.

After the rain stopped I drove, sunroof open so the boys could see the stars and feel the cool dry air. A fox darted across the highway, Tom Petty, Talking Heads, Bob Seger and the Eagles all made there way onto the only radio station we could fine, a classic radio station out of Denver. We arrived at this new hotel with an elevator wide enough to fit two bikes and us, a room bigger than any 4 star hotel room, impecibly clean...time for a good sleep before we play in the hills. 

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