Travel – Day 3 – Drive

Today is Day 3 and the only plan for today is to drive.

The plan, go from Kansas City, Kansas to Alamosa, Colorado. That is 670 miles.  Take I-70 to Rt 40, then to 287, to 96 to Rt 10 and finally 160.

I-70 In Kansas

I-70 In Kansas.. bug splats included.

People, gas stations, lunch at McDonald’s, I-70 was like any other rolling highway.  Then we stopped, exited to get gas and turned onto Rt 40 West. No one… there were a few semi-trucks that were hulling grain. The route was paved, the roads off of it were not. It is understandable why you want a pickup truck here.

Keeping with the theme, we were being chased by a rain storm.  The difference is that you can see it.  Way off in the distance, a few miles away, gray clouds and dark streaks reach down and touch the ground. Drive faster and avoid the rain.  We were basically alone on the road for about 5 hours.

Kansas Rt 40

Kansas Rt 40

There really isn’t a single good photo to describe driving through the miles of land used to grow food. The entire road was setup for some type of grain or corn or something, every so often we would pass by a silo and maybe a truck was there to hull it out.  There were no tourists, no gas stations, spotty cell service at best, no tow trucks, or rest stops.  Every hour or so, you would find what looked like a shop or town… A single building, maybe school, maybe a gas station with a sign on the door to call for someone to come by and assist you.  This a clear reminder of how much land is needed to feed a country, or two.  Imagine living at work, miles away from the nearest shop, growing crops.

Eventually, we get closer to the mountains of Colorado. At first the border between the states is not even noticeable.  Then, you start to see the mountains off in the distance. The land used for crops becomes more scarce and the ranches start to take form. We drove along an old railroad, down back road and through places the genuinely looked abandoned.  Periodically, there would be a house, a trailer, or a truck parked a few miles away from the road. I presume they are living there.

Walsenburg, Colorado

Photo from Walsenburg, Colorado

Driving through the mountain roads was a challenge for the car.  Before we left, Stephen had the oil changed, new air filter installed, new transmission filter and fluid, coolant flushed, and we changed the spark plugs. Going up the hills… there was no power. The car was struggling at the high altitude.  We reached Alamosa at about 7:30 pm and checked into the hotel. Dinner at Chilli’s.  Since the car was having issues, we decided to change the plan and take the car to the dealer and check to see if something was not working with the transmission or spark plugs.

Tomorrow’s plan. Get car checked at 7:30 am…

Travel – Day 2 – St. Louis

Today we departed from the Ohio/Indiana border and drove West. The goal for today?  To tour the “Gateway to the West.” That is the St. Louis Archway. This is a 630 ft tall stainless steal monument that was built to signify the westward expansion. We drove about 6 hours, non-stop through Indiana and Illinois.

Day 2 - Indiana

Day 2 – Indiana

In Indiana, Illinois and Missouri all lanes move at the same speed and drivers will occupy any free lane at what ever speed they please… Very interesting.

Motor cycle drivers in left lane.

Motor cycle drivers in left lane.

Rain was a common theme for our trip.

Rain was a common theme for our trip.


Illinois - Typical Drive

Illinois – Typical Drive


We reached the Arch and took the ride to the top. This 5-10 minute ride took a few hours of preparation. The cars are spaced apart as to limit the number of people reaching the top of the arch and allow for viewing time. The entire area is under construction and the water front spaces (such as the parking deck we put our car in) were flooded and under water. In a few years there will be a new visitor center and museum. In the mean time, ticket sales are in the old courthouse building, about a 10 minute walk from the arch. Keep in mind the road closings. As we learned, with all the construction, there are lots of walkways and roads that you can not pass thorough. It took a few tries to find our way about the city.

St. Louis Arch and Construction Site

St. Louis Arch and Construction Site

At the top of the arch are a few viewing windows flanked by people. You know, when you are at the bottom, you look up and you can almost see the arch moving about… well, at the top, you can feel it moving…

As we were leaving the park, where the arch is located, one of the horse and buggy drivers yelled out to us. She informed us that a big storm was on its way, we had about 10 minutes, they were being called in and she noticed that we didn’t have an umbrella… Very nice person… It turned out this storm would produce funnel clouds and tornado warnings.  We managed to leave and head to a Cheesecake Factory for dinner in Chesterfield. By the end of dinner, the sirens were blaring, the storm was raging behind us.  We drove West.  Just barely on the edge of the cloud front… Had we stayed in St. Louis for dinner, we would have been trapped in the storm.

Dark Storm Clouds in St. Louis, looking east from Chesterfield. Tornado sirens in the background.

Dark Storm Clouds in St. Louis, looking east from Chesterfield. Tornado sirens in the background.

After running from the storm, our check point was Kansas City.  We would drive for about 250 miles before putting in for the night.

Travel – Day 1 – Ohio

This summer, we are traveling through the Western part of  the U.S. Starting from Ohio, we set out west to visit family and friends at the very edge of Ohio. This is area that is close to New Bremen and Shelby County. Since we live close to Pennsylvania, this was a long drive through route 30… With lots of rain…


Did I mention that we had lots of rain… The fields were soaked.


One key highlight was the Maria Stein Countryfest in Maria Stein, Ohio. This community wide picnic featured Tractor Square Dancing. Where a group preforms a square dance on tractors. That is, driving tractors to mimic square dancing. The thrill is watching the skill level of folks ride tractors at high speeds in circles. This years, it was wet. It had been raining and the mud was scraped off into piles around the dancing “floor.”