Tag Archives: Missouri

FST : Day 1 – St. Louis MO to Hays KS (500 mi)

The first day of our roadtrips are inevitably long and uneventful. It’s the first day out, and there’s always excitement in the promise of seeing new things… but that comes later. First comes the first day’s drive, and that usually means a long haul. For this trip, it’s a 500-mi jaunt into the middle of Kansas.

I don’t mind the drive much. In this leg, the landscape just starts to hint about changes from farming to ranching. The terrain gets a little flatter, and the hints of prairie begin. It’s a good leg, with a promise of what’s to come.

We saw a huge wind tower farm today. I just don’t get why this country can’t figure out that dual-purposing this wind-swept land is a terrific use of resources. Farming and wind power can definitely co-exist, and this part of the country sure gets plenty of wind to feed power back to the grid. And it’s plenty renewable.

BTW, I’m surprised at how much Hays reminds me of Kearney NE (last year’s opening leg). It was almost like we’d slept and gone to Nebraska! 🙂

Tomorrow — the mountains!

GAR: Day One – St. Louis MO to Kearney NE (544mi)

After much scurrying about to load and pack (not in that order…. sometimes), we got underway on the Great American Roadtrip this morning just shy of 9am. Today is the first of three “big push” days, with 500mi being the target. Working hard these three days buys us shorter drives later and more time to smell the roses down the road, so it’s definitely effort well-spent.

And truthfully, it was largely an uneventful drive. The biggest concern we had was the wind. We had extremely strong southerly winds all the way across Missouri, and most of the way across Nebraska. Aside from fighting the wheel, that’s usually not a big deal. In the Jeep, that’s a different story.

I had read in the aftermarket catalogs about third party hood latches for the Jeep. The way the hood works is typical latch, but no handle inside the Jeep, so it’s kinda like the hood’s perpetually “popped”, just not unlatched. To keep it from being too much of a wind sucker, there are rubber hood latches on the hood, left and right. Get the right amount of wind (or buffeting from a big rig in front of you), and the hood dances. A lot.

Did I mention that the hood dances in high wind? 🙂

Needless to say, improved hood latches have moved closer to the top of my list for add-ons to the Jeep. That was really weird to see the hood moving around, and I kept having to tell myself that it was ok, expected, and that it would stay down.

Probably the coolest thing we saw on the drive today was in northern Missouri. A guy was changing a tire on the edge of the road, and standing right there on the stripe was a Missouri highway patrolman, hands on hips, facing the traffic. Pretty imposing look, and it definitely got your attention. Cool that he was watching the oncoming traffic while the guy was changing his tire.

BTW, northwestern Missouri and eastern Nebraska should be renamed “The Land of 10000 Additional Lakes”. The farm fields are flooded, really bad in places, with the lower lands becoming huge lakes with trees popping out of the water far from the shore.

We had planned to pull in at Grand Island NE, but I felt pretty fresh, so we pushed on to Kearney NE. As it ends up, that was a very, very good decision.

We watched Shrek 3 on cable, and quickly learned that there was quite sever weather just east of Kearney which was pummeling Grand Island. There were severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings all night in that direction. We had bad storms, but nothing like what we heard about in Grand Island.

Despite the storms, it was a good day’s journey, and a good start to the trip.