Sunday, May 06, 2007

Leg 2: No Man's Land

Today we drove over 500 miles through Missouri and Kansas. That's about 3 stops for gas, 9 hours and 45 minutes of driving, and a total of 11 hours on the road.

Missouri was very, very pretty. Saint Louis was very hot and humid and the rest of Missouri sort of followed the same. But one thing I failed to remember from was that Missouri has the Ozarks. I expected a boring, flat drive. And, to my surprise it was hilly (and, to a girl from Indiana, mountainous). In fact, driving there was a bit tricky because it was up and down and the road curved everywhere. It was very unpredictable.

Once we got in to Kansas, it was about the same as Missouri. Kansas City was really pretty, as well. I only got a passing look and snapped a few pics while driving (I swear I wasn't looking at the camera though, so the pictures are all kind of crooked. You can see them on the My Photos page on the right). After that, though, Kansas is NO MAN'S LAND. Okay, so it's not quite that bad at first, but it definitely gets that way later.

Kansas was WAY different than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be ugly Indiana-like flat land, but it was suprisingly beautiful. After you pass the hills from the Ozarks, you get into the mesas. The mesas were incredibly beautiful. It brought back memories from elementary school textbooks. I never quite understood what a mesa was and I remember carefully studying a picture in a textbook to figure it out. But when I saw them in person--wow... they are breathtaking. The coolest part about it, is they are hills in the middle of relatively flat lands (much more hilly than Indiana, though). When you are on the interstate, the highway sometimes goes over and through them (see photo below), so you can see miles and miles of them all around you. The land out there is basically uninhabited, so you are staring at miles and miles of untouched prairie with mesas. It was incredible!

Once you pass the mesas, you get into what I thought Kansas was like--flatness. Here's my take so far on driving through the midwest: with the exception of the mesas, if you've seen Indiana, you've seen what Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas all look like. Seriously, not much if anything is different. Maybe there is more wind... maybe the weather changes a little. But, really... if you've seen one you've seen them all...

But overall, Kansas is way nicer than Indiana (I believe, anyway) in terrain. It was only flat towards the far west side. It was surprisingly textured, with the rolling hills and mesas, beautiful grasses, and sideways-growing trees. Fascinating. However, it is VERY unpopulated. There are actually areas that say "No services (gas stations) for 60 mile" or something like that and the entire state takes like 6-8 hours to get through. We were only in Missouri for 4 hours and we drove for 9.75 and we are still IN the state. So, you do the math.

We got a bit lucky today in several cases. For one, 70 is a toll road once you get into Kansas, but only for maybe 20-40 miles. Somewhere along the way we stopped to get gas and just take a break. When we left, we got to the toll plaza where we paid our $ and got off the toll road and the guy at the toll booth asked us where we had come from. Aaron told him and the guy said that an accident had happened (apparently right after we had passed the area) that backed up traffic so badly no one could get through. So they had no one at the toll plaza and were wondering how we'd gotten there. Isn't that crazy!? We barely missed an accident that backed up traffic for miles. Think how long our drive would have been then.

Another lucky break was safety in general. The weather was pretty bad in some parts, but definitely Kansas was covered in a huge dark cloud today. At one point we had gotten out of a storm only to drive right into another, worse storm further into Kansas. It was very rainy. But we were smart about it and drove slowly, but also I believe God protected us because it could have been way worse.

How do I know that, you ask? Well, when we got to our hotel we turned on CNN and low and behold some record-breaking number of tornadoes had rip-roared through Kansas yesterday. There was a ton of damage, they were bigger than normal, and went through exactly the area we drove through today. We went through all kinds of storms and, guess what? No tornadoes. Thank God for that!

All in all, it wasn't as bad as I thought I would be. We were a little sore after driving, but we can't complain. There was almost no traffic and we made good time. We were trying to get as close to the Colorado border as possible so we could get to Fort Collins some time during the day tomorrow to enjoy ourselves in the city. So, we went far enough that our drive should only be about 4 hours tomorrow at the most. YAY!

Here's a photo of us riding off into sunset. This is at the end of our journey when we finally emerged from under the Kansas cloud...

Posted by Picasa