Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Taking the Show on the Road

Taking a trip with no set itinerary and be fun, but it’s also a bit reckless. The first leg of our journey (everybody sing… “on the road again…”) took us from Colorado through Kansas on I-70. The Colorado portion wasn’t very scenic, given that we were leaving the mountains and heading through rather flat, dry land.

We made one quick detour to a “place of interest” before we left the state of Colorado. Marked on the map was the “Kit Carson Carousel,” I was curious to see what it was. We took the exit, followed the signs, and ended up at a county fairgrounds that was closed. A building had a sign for the carousel, but we didn’t bother banging on doors, we just headed back to the highway.

On the way back, my husband spotted a helicopter up on a pedestal, and he noticed that the ‘copter display included some equipment that he buys parts for, so we stopped and I took some photos.

The sky was dark and cloudy and the helicopter was dark and sort of monotone, so I wasn’t sure what the photos would turn out like, but it was our first tourist moment of the trip.

Shortly afterward, we hit the Kansas border and stopped at a visitor’s center where we picked up brochures and a nice map of the state. Although I didn’t actually plan a side trip there, I picked up a brochure for the world’s largest ball of sisal twine. It amused me. In a sick sort of way.

We also opted to skip the barbed wire museum.

Eventually the scenery changed as we headed to lower elevations and a wetter climate. First, there were farms, then rolling hills with trees and greenery.

It was mostly cloudy, which was actually nice. The cloud cover meant we could drive without air conditioning, just enjoying the breeze. No sun beating down to bake us during the drive…

And then the clouds got interesting. There were storms along the horizon, and you could see the rain, great sheets of gray stretching from the clouds to the ground. Some of the clouds looked like giant sky jellyfish, which set my sci-fi writer brain musing, but I had food on the brain. Kansas City barbecue was beckoning.

Along the way, we stopped at a gas station that had this sign in the window. It amused me.

As we drove, more clouds ahead started spawning rain. Straight ahead, it would look clear, and then things would shift and it looked like we’d brush the edge of a storm. Some of them looked pretty dark and ominous.

Then it cleared ahead, and we could see blue skies (musical interlude time… “nothin’ but blue skies…”) And finally, we hit the edge of one little storm. We drove though a massive downpour for just a few minutes before we broke through to sunnier skies.

We looked that the map and decided to get all the way to Kansas City the first night. That would mean KC ribs for dinner, and we’d have a lot of miles behind us before the next day.

I perused the travel guides and set the GPS for the Ameristar Casino and Hotel, figuring we could kill three birds with one destination. First and foremost, the hotel had Arthur Bryant’s Ribs, which is allegedly one of the notable places in town, and it was open on Sunday, unlike some of the others that I looked into. We figured that we could eat, get a room, throw some quarters in a slot machine, and not have to drive anywhere.