Monday, 7 September 2009

Road Trip: Tennessee to Colorado, Part 2

Heading into Kansas was nice, and while people talk about endless fields they neglect to mention just how beautiful the country is. It might get a bit tiring after hundreds of miles of the same, but it is beautiful all the same.

On our first day in Kansas we stopped in Wichita for lunch, then spent a long time trying to get out of Wichita. Lots of detours and not much to see, we were a bit perplexed by Wichita, like perhaps we had missed something. We drove on to Salina, where we stopped in a lovely motel, a Quality Inn; I was able to get my laundry done, and we had a great sit-down meal thanks to the motel having a restaurant as well. A massive burger patty served between two pieces of rye toast, with cross-hatch fries and salad: I ate it all and felt by the end that perhaps I had eaten far too much. We chilled out watching Poker on ESPN, and all-in-all had a fantastically relaxing evening.

Our second day of driving in Kansas was a long straight road to Goodland, past seemingly endless fields of wind turbines and crops. It was a lovely day though, and there were two reasons for that. The first was "Prairie Dog Town", which we started to see adverts for more than fifty miles before we reached it. "The World's Largest Prairie Dog!!!" As the miles ticked over we started to wonder what we might see. How big could this prairie dog be? The size of a dog? A pig? Of course, all was not what it seemed, and the prairie dog was an enormous statue! However, Prairie Dog Town was quite charming: lots of animals, although the rattlesnakes (boxed though they were) did give me the jitters, and kind of quaint. Given the kind of jobs and businesses that my family have had several generations back, it felt kind of right (more on that some other time maybe).

The second reason that the day was good was the fab motel that we stayed in, fifty dollars plus tax, exercise equipment and a Chinese restaurant. As soon as we checked in we thought, "Score!" Dave went for a swim, I worked out and we had dinner, while a storm that bordered on the apocalyptic raged outside. Televisions kept cutting out as the emergency weather broadcast came on to report tornadoes that had been sighted less than twenty miles away, along with "baseball to grapefruit-sized hailstones". At least we had a delicious meal to eat, and after working out I felt fantastic.

I had a workout again the following morning, which really set me up for the day; we were heading in to Colorado, and weren't far from the border. The plan was to stop in Denver for a few hours before heading to Fort Collins, and we had a mostly uneventful drive, apart from getting into Denver itself. We had a surplus of maps, but these hindered as much as they helped, as we were constantly shifting between different versions to find the streets that we were after. Denver was lovely, and reminded me of Manchester in some ways in terms of its layout, and while we had a pleasant afternoon there we left late and it was nearly 7pm by the time we reached Fort Collins.

For the first time on the trip we had problems in finding a motel room for the night, and it was only at the fifth motel that we tried that we were able to get a room for the two nights that we would be staying in the area. Most of the motels that we tried were quite apologetic that they had no rooms free, although at one place - which wasn't in the best condition - we were faced with a particularly snooty woman who looked down her nose at us when we asked if there was a reduction for staying multiple nights (the price was quite steep). As she turned away I was amused to see a prominent love-bite on her neck, and for the life of me I still can't understand why it amused me so much.

After settling into another Days Inn, we relaxed over a McDonalds dinner (Angus third-pounder with mushrooms and swiss cheese, they do them better in the USA) and talked about what we would each be doing the following day. Dave was bouncing off the walls at the prospect of playing golf, and meanwhile I was looking forward to a lovely day strolling around Fort Collins.


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