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Leaving America’s Heartland…

Posted by on October 9, 2017


IT’S WINDY!
  If Chicago is the “windy city” then the state of Kansas must be the country’s windiest state. Wow! A day or two ago the wind was so strong on the highway that we were forced to stop driving early in the day. We were fortunate to find a beautiful lake near the little town of Marion, Kansas where we took shelter for a few days and contemplated our next move. The sustained winds were about 40 miles per hour with gusts to 55 mph. It’s just not safe to drive in that kind of weather! We’ve now continued west on Interstate 70 to another small town called Goodman, Kansas, where the winds were calmer. But we’re planning to leave in the morning, because the weather forecast is for increasingly high winds, freezing temperatures and light snow. I just don’t know how to drive in these kinds of conditions! Before we depart, though, I want to give you my last impressions of Mid-America.

 

Wind farms are common sights on the plains of Kansas. And the propellers move briskly!

LOOKING BACK AT AMERICA’S HEARTLAND. Despite my preconceived notion that crossing middle America would be no fun at all…just a boring and time-consuming part of our Adventure, I’ve discovered that my impression was wrong. In fact, this vast and important section of our country has a unique and pleasing personality. The pace is slow, the people are genuine and life is relatively simple. Yet the farmers and ranchers who work the land provide vast amounts of food to the rest of us and in many ways set an example of how life should be lived.

LANDSCAPE.  In its own way, the landscape is beautiful. I’ll try to paint a picture for you. Along two lane highway 70, the main east-west route through mid-America,  fields and prairies stretch for as far as the eye can see. John Deere tractors can be seen from the road and cattle rest in the shade of an occasional oak tree. The hay has been harvested and is rolled into huge bales still left in the fields to be loaded into trucks and used as animal feed during the harsh winter. Speed limit signs inform drivers that 75 mph is the maximum speed allowed, but the signs are ignored and cars zoom by at 85 miles per hour or faster. Huge eighteen wheel trucks, almost too large to safely operate here, jockey for position. Time is money.

 

Huge rolls of straw have been harvested, and baled. It will be used as animal fodder, particularly for grazing animals.

 

 

Cattle ranchers in Kansas supply companies and restaurants renowned for purveying the finest in Midwestern beef.

 

LITTLE TOWNS. Little towns punctuate the landscape every so often. Towns like Wakeeny, Colby, Park and Greenland, where we’re staying until morning. Each has at least one Pizza parlor and 4-H club. Freight trains are ever-present to transport grain and other materials produced here. Huge grain silos employ townsfolk and interrupt the skyline. The folks are simple and honest. Overalls and pitch forks are a common sight.

 

Grain silos in Goodland, Kansas. There were about six of these in the little town!

 

NOW WE’RE IN TROUBLE.  As you know, our plan has been to travel from Kansas through Denver, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho to the Columbia Gorge and into Oregon. The winter storms approaching have made us change our plans, drastically. The campgrounds on our intended route are closing for the year and there are only a few rigs in the few that remain open. High winds, snow and ice are in the forecast. After much debate and with heavy hearts, we’ve decided to be safe rather than sorry. I’m not equipped to drive in extreme winter weather and our motorhome isn’t either. So, we’ll head south and spend a few months either in a warmer section of New Mexico or perhaps in Arizona where the weather is predictably warm and pleasant at this time of year. This will really affect our trip to Oregon, where we probably now won’t arrive be begin looking for a home until early Spring. I could kick myself for not being more respectful of the winter weather by getting across the country and the Rocky Mountains before now. But when I balance my desire to do so with the potential risks for our personal safety, it’s an easy call. And I think that even though we’ve now avoided the worst of it, we’ll still get some pretty pretty severe weather as we make our way south and west. Wish us luck! And if you have any suggestions for driving in this stuff, let me know.

 

WHAT WE’RE AVOIDING. Winter storm warnings have been posted for central Colorado and southeast Wyoming with more than a foot of snow predicted in some mountain areas.  Watch the video clip to see why we’ve changed our travel plans. Can you imagine driving a large motorhome with a tow vehicle, totaling about 60 feet in length, in this kind of weather? Or stopping to spend the night? Nope, I can’t either! 

 

I’ll continue my story next time.

4 Responses to Leaving America’s Heartland…

  1. Jon York

    I commensurate with you. I got off 2 1/2 weeks late and winter in northern NV messed up my plans. I’ll be in Fernley, NV for the next 4 days and the temps will be below freezing. I’ll then head for Death Valley. Be safe and drive carefully.

  2. Randy

    See – If you had done as I suggested and gone to Omaha first you might have arranged to put your home and vehicle on a flat train car and shipped yourselves to Portland.

    Oh well – Arizona is where all Canadians with RVs spend the winter, so you will find many new friends, eh!

  3. Greg Alford

    Randy: Well that’s something that never occurred to me. What a great idea. Just load the motorhome and Jeep on a freight train and sit back to enjoy the ride. Genius idea, my friend.

  4. Greg Alford

    Jon, I guess life just isn’t quite perfect. I’m sure both our trips will be just fine and perhaps given what’s happened we’ll get a chance to see you again. That would be fun!

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