Category Archives: Kansas

photo of Bob and Danna's house - hidden in the trees

On To Nebraska — Been On This Road Before

Teardrop Trail Log: June 11, 2017

I moved to Austin in 1984 and have been back to Omaha, where I grew up, many times. It’s about a two-day drive, with a convenient stop in the Oklahoma City area. Marilyn and I have gotten used to staying in Edmond, on the northern end of Oklahoma City. It puts us a little closer to our goal, and has reasonable accommodations and restaurants. After a great dinner at Othello’s and a good night’s rest, we were off.

map of Edmond, OK to Omaha, NE

Edmond, OK to Omaha, NE

The drive between Edmond and Omaha is mostly Interstate or four-lane roads, with plenty of stops along the way. It’s flat or low, rolling hills, and the miles tick by rapidly. The landscape is pleasant, but not remarkable, so an audio book or podcast is helpful in passing the time.

Between the Oklahoma/Kansas border and Wichita is the Kansas Turnpike, and it is a toll road. It continues to Kansas City, but we usually switch to Highway 135/81 in Wichita. This is a great north/south road that takes us via Salina, Concordia, Hebron and Geneva to York, Nebraska where we turn right onto Interstate 80 for the last leg of the trip into Omaha. The whole trip takes about seven hours without stops.

photo of The locals

The locals

We were planning to stay a couple of days with my friend Bob and his family in Ft. Calhoun, just north of Omaha. He has a beautiful home in a sea of cornfields and it’s always great to spend time there. Danna, his wife, keeps chickens, miniature donkeys and goats, so there’s local entertainment as well.

Bob and I have known each other since high school, and were briefly in business together about 40 years ago. He still has that business, and I was looking forward to his latest exploits — the adventure for tomorrow.

photo of The View from the house

The View from the house

photo of maps and brochures

Des Moines – Here We Come

Teardrop Trail Log: May 2017

Planning for our trips on the Teardrop Trail is always an essential part of my experience. I love exploring the possibilities. This year, Red Power Round Up, the annual gathering of the International Harvester collectors, would take place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines from June 15 through 17. We discussed places and events we might want to see before and after the event. Trying to limit the driving to around 6 hours a day, we prefer to take the scenic route, including time to stop and stretch, grab a photo or try a local eatery when time permits. Several months before our scheduled departure, I began an intensive Internet search of websites, blogs and travel emails that would inform our route. I even tried a few on-line planning tools. Hard to believe this would be the fourth year traveling in the Ambassador, our teardrop.

We’ve been part of the Teardrop online community for quite some time, so I began posting inquiries about campgrounds, restaurants and points of interest on several groups’ Facebook pages. Members of Heartland Tear Jerkers had some great suggestions and even extended an invitation to a gathering in Rock Creek State Park, just prior to RPRU. I also reached out to Sarah Tucker of Cool Tears magazine and Marsha Corbin, the Executive Director at Old Trails Region in central Missouri. We had seen a television program of the Flint Hills in Kansas and Jim had seen an event featuring video woodworkers he followed online in Skiatook, Oklahoma. so I started researching the possibilities and contacting organizations along the route requesting brochures.

Armed with our trusty National Geographic Road Atlas, Adventure Edition,  I began to compile our wish list and enlisted Google Maps to get the mileage from point to point and answer the inevitable question, “Are we there yet?” As the itinerary came together, Jim and I reviewed options. I printed out the notes that would be clipped to the cover of the atlas for quick reference. Next step –- the to-do list.

map of the Route to Kansas City

Kansas City Bound

Teardrop Trail Log: June 13, 2016

The clerk touted the free Wi-Fi during check-in at Camp Motel 6. As we sorted through our soggy gear, anxious to catch up on email and other online delights after a challenging day on the road, we soon realized that the results were grim at best. Jim, who had lots of experience in many things tech, described it as a data dribble. Later I would read that we had encountered the perfect storm of hotel Wi-Fi problems – lack of workable access and very poor capacity. The “perfect” end to the “perfect” day – #WiFiFail. The outside world would have to wait. It was time to turn off the lights and drift off to sleep, listening to the sounds of the rain outside.

photo of the Classic IHOP breakfast

Classic IHOP breakfast

In the morning, we headed to IHOP, located conveniently across the parking lot. Normally, we would seek out the most amazing local eatery for a culinary adventure, but today we needed to go promptly. As we entered, a flood of memories returned – many road trips as a child with stops at IHOP. The chain started in 1958 and continues to offer predictability in each of its 1,650 restaurants around the world. Chow time! Bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast. Comfort food on the road.

We loaded the Ambassador and headed north. Paris, Texas, up through Oklahoma and on to Missouri. We had been in Missouri last summer for Red Power Round Up in Sedalia. Rather than exploring off the beaten path, this time we elected to hit Interstate 49 for Kansas City. We would be meeting Sarah Tucker, the editor of Cool Tears magazine. She had suggested a county campground near her home. Yes, we were on the Teardrop Trail again….

The Storm

Storm Wall near Plains, Kansas

Storm Wall near Plains, Kansas

Jim, June 24:

We’re tooling along in Kansas, and travel was filled with the joys of using the old atlas and The Girl for navigation. Paper meets high tech. Hot, Sunny and miles of flat, straight road ahead. The only thing to break up the monotony was a construction zone with very aggressive rumble strips to slow down the traffic. Normally we wouldn’t have noticed. But then, passing cars and trucks began waving and gesturing to us. “Oh, look, more teardrop fans!”, “Isn’t it fun that we seem to be attracting attention with our cool trailer!?”

rear view galley lid check

rear view galley lid check

Then Marilyn looked into her rear view mirror and noticed that the galley hatch was up. Hmmm. Perhaps we’re not as cool as we thought. Everyone was trying to tell us about the lid. *quiet chagrin*. We stopped and corrected the problem, and it became her job to periodically check on the galley hatch.

I’ve been through Kansas many times, and it’s normally quite dull, so I wasn’t expecting what I saw next. Out my side window, was one of the blackest skies I’ve seen recently with the clear indication of a wall cloud. Severe Weather! In other circumstances, I might have just tried to outrun the coming storm, but we were towing a small, light-weight trailer. On it’s first trip. Although it looks airworthy, I didn’t really want to try it. We needed shelter! Plains, Kansas wasn’t too far, and we could see a large grain elevator. We drove into town, headed straight for the elevator, and hunkered down. We had enough cell service to use our iPhones, and Dark Skies and Weather Bug gave us radar views of the storm. We spent the next hour in torrents of rain and blustery winds, but fortunately nothing worse.

Holiday Inn, McPherson, Kansas

Holiday Inn, McPherson, Kansas

We decided we could make McPherson, Kansas that night, and after a near rain-out the night before, and a near miss by a violent storm, we were feeling a little moist and beleaguered. The McPherson Holiday Inn would be just fine.