Our last day of vacation and we are heading home. We are tired and worn out from the road, but had a wonderful time seeing the west and getting our feet wet family camping. We ended up covering a huge amount of ground, driving nearly 4000 miles, but in the end, it's a big country, and the only way to see it by either having a lot of time or covering lots of ground. We chose the latter.
We are in KC and will fly back to Vermont this morning. We drove straight through Kansas and couldn't seem to catch a break in that state. We had planned on camping the previous night but there are no forests (National or state) to speak of, at least none where we were traveling. We had cut up through Oklahoma and followed the highway north hoping to find a place to pitch out tent, and it was an interesting drive, to say the least. Besides being flat, it was dreary, if not depressing, and of course, flat. For whatever reason, places like Nebraska and Ohio are flat, as well, but not as much of a downer. Kansas was just bleak.
My Mentor said that Kansas is best seen at night, but I would beg to differ, with all due respect, of course. First off, at night you'd miss all those open spaces, and even though it is dreary, there is a surreal quality to the feeling of isolation you have when you're out in the middle of nowhere. We passed through these small towns that seemed to be abandoned, literally no sign of life. They were spaced apart with amazing regularity and all revolved around these massive, and I'm talking huge grain silos, as if the town and its people were just an afterthought. Kind of strange.
Furthermore, we passed by these incredible feedlots that spanned hundreds of acres and held thousands of cows. Makes you realize where all of our beef comes from. Just a quick note-their situation didn't seem as miserable as it is depicted by the media. Sure, there was no grass to speak of, but they were outside and not compacted like sardines. I'm not condoning the process of industrial beef, I'm just pointing out that they didn't appear to be as tortured as I'd imagined them to be.
Finally, driving at night in the Kansas prairie can be downright scary, mainly for the fact that there is nothing for hundreds of miles, and if you broke down, forget about it. You'd be smack in the middle of a horror movie. The setting is perfect, and we got to experience this firsthand. As I had mentioned, we had planned on camping on our penultimate night, but had a difficult time finding good camping. We checked out several places but they were all a little decrepit, and designed for day use. To make matters worse, we were in the midst of a serious thunder storm. The kids really wanted to camp, and who were we to deny them this?
We finally found a spot that was actually nice, though again, the storm made it hard to imagine setting up camp. There was a break in the rain, so we unpacked the food preparation stuff beneath a shelter and figured we'd at least have dinner and play it by ear. R cooked up a feast of hot dogs and pork and beans and we built a fire. By the time the food was ready, a steady rain was falling and lightning was striking all around us, which was kind of cool, actually.
In fact, it was the best view of lightning that I'd ever had, though at times too close for comfort. By the time we'd decided it was time to hit the road in search of a hotel, it was well past 8:00 PM, so we had to get moving. The drive back to the highway was torture because as I mentioned, we were out in the middle of nowhere, and there are no signs or houses or anything other than prairie grass and a random tree now and then. To add to the spooky effect, the lightning would strike with regularity and light up the entire area, just like in a scary movie. It was cool and eerie at the same time. I just kept hoping in the back of my mind that we wouldn't break down, or else live out our own version of Blair Witch Project, or for that matter, Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It seemed like hours before we finally hit the main interstate, and boy was I glad to be out of there and on a major road. We drove to the next big town, Hays, and got a room and went straight to bed. Even though the place was a dump, we were glad to hit the sack. And, they had a pool, which is always a bonus with the kids.
Until the next time, thanks for reading.