The wind that was blowing over my campsite last night continued to blow across the highway today. Any west to east travel forced us to battle it, but the south to north runs were a breeze. We hit I-35 north of Oklahoma City and drove that to the Kansas border, where we jumped on US 160 to do battle with the wind. North of Coffeeville, we turned onto US 169 which again took us to 35 and our crossing of the Missouri River. It’s always fun for me to cross the Mighty Missouri, but this time I was preoccupied with the maze filled with traffic.
We did hit a Turner high of 18.75 mpg in Oklahoma, but that was aided by both a tailwind and two fills of non-ethanol gasoline.
It was a long day behind the wheel, over 9 hours in fact, driving 486 miles. Some road deconstruction, lots of towns insisting on 25 mph, and early bedtimes in Missouri all played a part.
I had planned on camping again tonight at Wallace SP, but the gates were closed at 8pm, and I arrived at 8:10. I was not impressed. Who closes their gates at 8? The Show Me State. What did they show me? Closed gates. I guess I’m lucky I crossed The River by 7. Its my fault for not googling the park, but it never occurred to me that a state park would close their doors so early.
I was looking forward to another night in the tent, but hunger & temperament suggested I simply find a place to sleep for the night.
After doing the pre-run check on The Rover prior to leaving The Puddle in Kansas, the host paid me a visit. I guess the camping around “The Racetrack” was free, and the host encouraged me to stay 4-5 days to “enjoy the place”. He was genuinely disappointed to hear I would be driving off within minutes. Nice guy, somewhere in his 80’s, and I sort of felt bad dissing his park, but it went away as I tried to check the rear diff fluid level and not get stuck by broken glass.
When I started up again, it was still 88 degs and by the time I hit Stockton, KS it had dropped down to 77, but The Rover ran well.
I met up with two whitetails on Hwy 183 with a death wish. I should have nailed one with each wing, but the high beams allowed me to stop in time and the deer simply blinked at me in the bright lights. I kept going until I approached Kearney and I-80, where I pulled over for the rest of the night.
The trek across Nebraska & Iowa went easily in the drastically cooler air. I did hit a cross-headwind in NE that kept me from being able to use the overdrive which drove my mileage down to 11. In general however, it varied from 12-14, which is what it did the previous year. Still… Disappointing & not what I’m looking for.
West of Des Moines, I man came up to me while getting gas and asked where in Alaska I was from. When I told him, he said he had lived in Valdez. Then he went on to ask me if I knew several people up in Alaska, and was taken aback when I claimed to know none of them. I then confessed that “I was a bit misanthropic,” which only confused him further, but he continued to talk to me.
I was on the road early, but the ninety degree weather was on us by 11:30am.
Plan B was to bail into any state park that showed itself when the heat became unbearable, which happened around 1:30, and the Rover and I were parked under a shady tree by 2pm.
It’s a strange park, and I don’t even want to name it. There is a puddle of a pond, which is no doubt stocked with some small fish, with a dirt road running along its shore. It kind of looks like a gravel racetrack with a pond in its center. People have been driving around & around slinging gravel since I arrived. It’s either a cruise destination or a drug drop off point. I have not decided which, and the characters seem to be running 50/50 in favor of each I hate to disparage the place, in case it is beloved by the local community, but it really is a bit of a dump.
I’ll eat dinner shortly, then crawl under the truck to check all fluids, while trying to avoid the broken glass scattered about. Afterwards, I will venture further north, although things have not cooled down yet. I’ll get to I-70 for sure tonight and may try for I-80 or beyond depending on how I feel. The votes are even, and I will cast the deciding vote when the time comes. Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing?
The Rover was running just fine this morning and I shut things down before the temps became too nasty. Besides, my feet were really hot today, which just may become the deciding factor in the future. I figure that right now I am 12 Rover hours from Knoxville.
The day started off cool, which means that the gear lube was thick and barely went through the pump and into the t-case. Okay… I understand having to keep oils in the cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska… but in Texas? Come on!
I had the idea to run up Highway 83 from Liberal, KS to I-90 in SoDak. Then the wind hit in Kansas around 2pm and all fun was blown out the window and across the prairie. I veared east and hooked up with I-80 in Kearney and life was much better with a tailwind.
Faced a nasty headwind across much of Kansas which the Rover did not like at all. Stopped at Dodge City simply because I had never been there before.
Founded on the Santa Fe Trail in 1865, over 3 million bison were slaughtered from the surrounding plains between 1872 & 1875, and an estimated 850,000 hides were shipped out of the future cowtown. Favorite adopted sons, Bat Masterson & Wyatt Earp were both lawmen in Dodge.
Wyatt even has a statue today.