The Road To Kansas
From the Truman house I went straight to the highway. Getting out of Independence, MO isn’t too difficult, however, getting out of Kansas City, MO was pretty tough. When I hit Kansas City, MO the road became busy with a bunch of exits going everywhere. Not as difficult at Ft. Worth, TX but it was a bit confusing. Actually, my GPS failed me again and made me miss an exit. Basically, the GPS made me skip an exit and take the next one that led into downtown Kansas City, MO. From there it wanted me to make a U-Turn and take the exit it skipped last time. Oh well, this slight detour took me about a ¼ or ½ mile into the downtown area where a medical school was nearby. I remember seeing students in scrubs walking around. Around this area I turned into a random street that had a parking area and a suburb straight across. I made a U-Turn here and headed back the same way out. From here I was able to get back on the highway and exit off into Interstate-70 West. This interstate would be the road I would take all the way back to Limon, CO.
After getting back on the interstate I made it quickly into Kansas City, KS. This side of Kansas City looks both more modern yet industrial as compared to the Missouri side. The industrial part is on the outskirts of the city and is a sure reminder of the industrial revolution. After leaving Kansas City, KS the road stayed fairly busy. At the city line you then hit a tollbooth where you collect a ticket to pay at an exit or the end of the toll road. I got my ticket and drove on through the toll road. My first stop was actually at a place they call a “service area”, which is weird since its basically a rest area in the middle of the interstate. This service area had a travel center and McDonald’s. I parked right next to the travel center. I went inside to use the bathroom and to look around. I noticed that it had one of those f’real milkshake machines. I never used one and this machine had a limited edition cotton candy flavor so I thought “what the heck, why not?” It was hot anyways. It ended up tasting pretty good and not too synthetic. I also got a few postcards before heading out. Getting back on the interstate is tricky since you exit the service area onto the fast lane (left lane) where cars are literally going 85+ mph (speed limit 80). My car doesn’t accelerate fast and I must have hit that lane at 50 or 60 mph. Thankfully, the interstate wasn’t busy now and I was able to exit without a problem. It didn’t take too long before I got to the end of the toll road. On my way to the end of the toll road I noticed a sign about the “Brown vs. Board of Education” building and that it was close by. When I got to the tollbooth on this end I asked the guy where the building was and he was nice enough to give me directions and print them off too. It was super close by, actually, it was at the next exit past a few turns. The toll itself was $2.50 if anyone’s curious. After getting the directions I headed into Topeka, KS and into that first exit. It wasn’t too hard getting to the building, after the exit I just needed to turn once or twice. When I got to the suburbs I noticed that the roads were named after presidents, such as Jefferson, Madison, etc. I then parked in this dirt parking lot next to a park in front of the Brown vs. Board of Education building. I walked to the building and read the placards about the building. Its really interesting being in a major civil rights area. I walked around the building and I noticed a stray dog following me for a bit. I didn’t make eye contact and walked away. I then headed back to my car. As for the park itself, it was nice and small. It had a basketball court and picnic areas as well. I then headed out and back on the interstate. I was kind of hungry and tried to look for a place in Topeka to eat. I looked on Yelp for something interesting but I didn’t really find anything unique that stuck out. I remember taking an exit into the downtown area and it reminded me of the suburbs of St. Louis. I didn’t stick around too long, I headed back on the interstate out West.
Beauty at a Rest Area
The next stop I made was at a rest area about fifty or so miles West of Topeka. At this rest area I noticed a biker sitting on a raised concrete platform. When I walked by he said “Hi, how are you doing?” in a heavy Irish accent. It surprised me actually since I was expecting anything but an Irish accent. I said I was doing good and asked how he was and he said he was doing good as well. I then headed inside to use the bathroom and when I went out I noticed a staircase to the side going up. I checked it out and it led to an upper level of the rest area. Interestingly, I also noticed a hiking path up here. It was interesting, at the entrance of the hiking path it said “Guard of the Plains”. It’s a placard about a monument at the end of the path that’s supposed to represent a windmill, since windmills were a part of the livelihood of the people in Kansas. This hiking path was beautiful, and you would not believe that it is hidden in a rest area. It reminded me of some hikes in Hawaii, particularly Manana Trail in Pearl City, HI. Inside the trail, you hike through a forest and through a wooden bridge and then to a narrow path up a steep hill with a narrow path and a few switchbacks. Somewhere along this path there is a bench where you could rest. Near the top of the hill there is a clearing and then it’s a small walk to the monument. The monument itself looks like an abstract windmill. It was nice, the view of the surroundings from the top of this hill was beautiful. You could see the interstate, the railroad with a train passing through, and the vast rolling hills of Kansas. It helps remind you that there is a lot to see in the world. It also reminds you that there is beauty in even the most mundane places like this here rest area. I spent some time up on this hill before jogging down the hill. Overall, the hike is simple, about ½ mile up and ½ mile down or even less! When I got out I headed back to my car. I actually was a bit tired so I closed my eyes for a bit. I probably rested for about 15 minutes, real short but it got me energized. I then got back on the road headed for Abilene, KS.
On Abilene, KS.
I wanted to go to Abilene for a few reasons. First, I knew about the Eisenhower Library in the city. Why not cross out two Presidential Libraries from my bucket list on the same day? Secondly, I was still hungry and was looking for somewhere interesting. Third, it’s interesting to see the town where good ol’ Ike came from. When I exited into Abilene for some reason my GPS gave out on me again. Thankfully, there were signs that lead to the visitor’s center. This drive took me through a typical exit area with gas stations on the side. About a ¼ mile in, it took me through residential area. In this residential I noticed a mansion, it had a placard but it wasn’t Eisenhower’s place. Another ¼ mile took me into the downtown area. It kind of look like a downtown area you would see in a small town in Texas like Memphis, TX’s downtown area or dare I say Post, TX’s downtown area. Basically, it’s a bunch of old school looking two story buildings. The visitor’s center was right next to the downtown area. I made a stop here since I remember seeing a sign for “free cookies and coffee”, I was like “Free cookies and coffee? I’m down!” But, when I got here I noticed that the parking area was empty. I was like “dang, its probably closed”. And it was, when I got to the door I saw the Closed sign. I saw a few pamphlets about Eisenhower and an old school telephone booth. Besides from the cookies and coffee I was hoping to get some information on where the Eisenhower Library was. But oh well, I got back in my car and drove around the downtown area for an open store to ask for directions. While driving around I noticed a pizza joint that was open, it was called “Tossed n Sauce Pizza”. Inside, for some reason it reminded me of a chapel for some reason. I wonder if it was a chapel turned pizza place? When I went inside I first went straight to the bathroom. After using it I asked the girl who was working for directions to the Eisenhower Library. She said “Oh, let’s ask one of the guys, I’m bad with directions.” I was like ok, then the guy in the back helped me out. Very specific directions “you just head down the road and take a right at Buckeye Ave and you will see the library right down the road.” Thanks! I took his directions and got to the Eisenhower library in no time.
It must have been less then a ¼ mile away from the downtown area. I noticed that it was closed, I think the time at the moment was about 6:30 P.M. I then parked in an empty parking lot. Thankfully, the no parking sign said “no parking from 11:00 P.M to 5 A.M” basically no overnight parking. I then started walking around. My first stop was to Eisenhower’s childhood home. It was right in the compound of the Library. It’s a nice house and looked like a typical farmer’s house kind of house. It was very odd being able to be up and close with the house. As compared to the Truman House, which was barricaded with fences, the Eisenhower House was fairly open for you to get up and close to. You just can’t go inside without a tour guide. I walked the area a bit before walking to the museum entrance. It was nice, both the Museum and Library looked like the front side of the Truman Library as well. The different here is that Eisenhower Museum and Library were in two separate buildings. In the middle of the courtyard was a monument of Eisenhower and it was very cool to see it up close and personal. While, I was taking a picture of this monument two ladies approached me and started making conversation. I remember the lady saying “Hi there, well apparently you’re not from around here” with a slight southern accent. I was like “Yeah, I’m from Colorado”. We made small talk about why I was there and how she was taking her niece who was visiting around the town. Their names are Dianne and Katie. Dianne being the aunt and Katie being the niece. Both are very pretty and I remember Dianne saying that she just moved into Abilene, but I forgot to ask where she came from. Dianne also gave me a quick lowdown of the Eisenhower compound, which was nice. She even pointed out that the chapel, where Eisenhower was buried, is open. Thanks for the tip Dianne! We then parted ways. I took a few more pictures around before heading to the chapel. Inside the chapel it was tranquil, all you hear is the sound of a small water fountain near the graves of Eisenhower and his wife and son who unfortunately died at an early age. I stayed in the chapel to take it all in before I headed out. When I headed out I actually used a porta-pottie on the other parking lot. I have no idea why I needed to use the bathroom a lot lol Oh well, afterwards I got back in my car and decided to drive around a bit. I noticed a dirt road that said “Old Abilene this way”. Basically, it took me on a dirt road and into this old school western looking town. All the buildings were closed and made me wonder if the buildings actually open earlier? I then headed out of Abilene. I was still a bit hungry but the only thing open at this time was that pizza place and I didn’t feel like pizza. I then headed out of Abilene back to the interstate out West.
On Russell, KS.
When I got back on the interstate, I was still hungry and noticed a billboard that said “A&W Restaurant Exit In Russell, KS” or something like that. In my head I was like “cool an A&W RESTAURANT? It must be better than those A&W/KFC fast food joints, right?” So I was intrigued and envisioned a diner style restaurant that happens to serve A&W products. Intrigued I drove the ninety some miles from Abilene to Russell, KS. When I got there it must have been around 9:30 P.M. From the exit, the A&W restaurant was about a mile or two from the exit. I drove it and it was pretty dark. I remember not driving through any residential areas though. When I got to the “A&W Restaurant” I noticed immediately that it looked like a Sonic, with the drive in order things. I was like “oh man, its not really a diner style restaurant”. Even worse to my chagrin when I parked at the parking lot and checked the side door, it was locked. I was like “This can’t be right, there’s a lot of people eating inside”. Disenchanted I still walked to the other side of the restaurant and the other door was locked. I then read a sign that said “dine-in closes at 9:30 P.M while drive-up closes at 10:00 P.M” I was a bit pissed off, but oh well. I got in my car and drove to one of the drive-up windows. I took a minute to look at the menu and noticed an interesting shake called a “freeze”, which is a mix between a root beer float and slushy. I remember a friend telling me about how you can’t normally get these anymore so I was like “what the heck, why not?” I then pressed the order button and ordered the Papa Burger with a side of Fries and a large Freeze. My total was around $12, which his actually pretty expensive for fast food. Oh well, I got my food pretty quickly and it was alright. The Freeze really stuck out as awesome. Its hard to describe, but imagine if a root beer float was a slushy/milkshake. I ate my food and still had a lot of the Freeze left. I then headed out and went to the gas station near the exit into Interstate-70 West. At the gas station I gassed up and humorously, these two bikers come out and one says “hey wanna get a milkshake?” and the other says “AW HELL NAH!” loudly with a heavy southern accent. In my head I was laughing because I had a milkshake like thing in my car. I then got in my car and headed out.
The Road Back Home To Colorado
From Russell, KS on out I didn’t make much stops. One of the stops was at a rest area where I was pretty tired. It was still in Kansas though. I probably slept there for a solid two hours. I then got on the road and after a hop and a skip I got to Colorado. Thankfully my GPS started working again since I knew I needed to find a specific exit in Limon, CO. When I got to Limon I exited to the first gas station I saw. I gassed up and used the bathroom inside. Humorously, the guy present was asleep in the back room. But you could see him very visibly, when you enter the front door, sleeping on a chair. To be honest, I thought he would wake up after I used the bathroom and walked around the store. To my surprise he was out cold, the door slamming from the bathroom did not waking up. After looking around and getting some postcards I actually had to yell a few times to wake him up. After he got up he literally said “I am so dead”, repeatedly actually. He then apologized repeatedly as well. I said it was ok but he kept on apologizing anyways. I asked him about Limon, CO and he told me that the town really consisted of what you see from the interstate. Basically, it’s a small town. I then headed out back on the interstate. It was a short drive to the exit I needed to make. It took me to a familiar highway, highway 24 West. This highway would actually take me all the way back to Colorado Springs. This highway took me through familiar towns close by, such a Peyton and Falcon. When I hit those towns I knew I was close to home. When I got back to Colorado Springs, there wasn’t much cars on the road. I was tempted to speed it up but I was like “I came way too far to get a ticket now.” Thankfully I drove speed limit since on my way back I noticed a few police cars hidden in some parking lots. When I got home it was around 4:30 A.M. This drive from South Carolina was the longest drive I made up to that point. Two time zones, eight states, and about two thousand miles.