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On the road in Kansas

September 10, 2009—I woke up this morning to fog... something I haven't seen in a long time. My early-morning walk around the campground was a somewhat damp experience, but it wasn't cold, so I didn't mind too much. The fog burned off while I was showering and breakfasting, but overcast skies lent a pastel look to the dam and reservoir.

John Martin Dam

I filled my water tank at the campground and got on the road around 10:00, heading east toward Kansas. It would be easy to make jokes about how flat Kansas is, just as it's easy to joke about how many oil refineries New Jersey has. As a former New Jerseyan, I know how tired one gets of those cliches, and I'm sure Kansans feel the same. The truth is that eastern Colorado is no different: hay fields, corn fields, wheat fields, and the occasional feedlot—the latter with an aroma that hits you like a punch in the nose.

The first part of today's journey was on unpaved Colorado county roads with names like "Gg", and I kept my speed well under 20 mph to minimize the dust and gravel thrown back at my little red Honda. Fortunately, there was almost no other traffic.

Eastern Colorado

I always feel a bit sorry for Alix, perched under the passenger's seat with just her little nose visible. This morning's washboard roads and the fact that she had nothing to look at but the base of my seat must have made for a trying ride, but she didn't complain. I've lined the space under the passenger's seat with high-density foam (cut from an exercise mat), so if there's an accident, she'll be cushioned by the foam and protected by the steel seat frame. She's probably safer than I am.

Alix under the seat

After a few miles I got onto paved roads and breathed a sigh of relief. From there on it was smooth sailing, but there wasn't much to look at. Probably the most interesting thing I saw all day was several miles of tilted utility poles. For most of the way, only the tilted poles had wires; the upright ones didn't... but periodically there'd be a rat's nest of cross-connections and the wires would switch to a different set of poles. I'm still trying to figure out what was going on.

Tilted poles

My friend Jan had tipped me off to the locally famous canteloupes, so I stopped at a farm market and picked up one of them. It was only eighty cents—a bargain.

Around 3:00 p.m. I pulled into Scott Lake State Park. This western Kansas park has plenty of shaded sites, both with and without hookups. The pleasant woman at the visitor center told me that it would cost twelve dollars for dry camping or twenty three dollars with electric and water hookups.

Since I'd filled up with water this morning at John Martin, and my batteries were fully charged from driving for three hours (plus solar power), I couldn't see spending an extra eleven dollars for hookups for one night. So I paid the twelve bucks and found myself a lovely pull-through site only about ten feet from the water, with nobody else in sight. There were some noisy kids across the lake from me for awhile, but they've gone in to supper now, so the only sounds are the cicadas and my XM satellite radio playing quiet piano jazz.

Scott Lake panorama

Alix is always so glad when we stop for the day. She mews a couple of times, as if to ask "Are we really there? No more driving?" and jumps up on the desk or table—wherever I happen to be sitting—to invite me to pet her, which she doesn't ordinarily do. She's like this when I return to the coach after having been away for a few hours, too. It's so nice to have someone who's glad to see me!


After leveling the coach and putting out the awning to keep off the afternoon sun, I made myself a salad and a sandwich on a whole-wheat ciabatta roll, and finished off with a thick slice of fresh canteloupe. Sweet! Then I sat down to put this page together.

And now it's 7:00 p.m., the sun has gone behind the hills, and the cicadas are winding down their noisy chorus as well. I guess it's time to wrap this up.

Tomorrow's drive will take me 210 miles to Kanopolis State Park in eastern Kansas. Beyond that, I haven't decided. I hate to plan too far ahead. Schedules are for nine-to-fivers. I'm retired... I don't have to do that!

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