It was a sad but exciting moment, saying goodbye to my good friends J and LP on the morning of April 18, 2004. Not knowing when I would see them again and trying to thank them for the months of hospitality they provided me while I was trying to get my affairs in order. But the Jeep was packed to the gills, including my cooler full of food purchased here that we have not been able to find in Mexico. Including two bottle of dill pickles and a box of Bisquick! So off I set.
Driving out the driveway and then through Taylors Falls and past all the old familiar landmarks was a very bittersweet feeling. So many years taking the area and my life there for granted was now at an end. Remembering all the good friends we had made there and all the years of adventures, trials and experiences was almost overwhelming.
With the petal to the metal, I proceeded south, south, ever south on Hwy 35. Passing through the southern suburbs and then on into the flat fields of southern Minnesota. Around Albert Lea the winds started. Great gusts that pushed me from the middle of the lane across the center line. It was time for two fisted driving, which I gladly did! By the time I reached Kansas I had a blister from gripping the steering wheel so strongly!
Crossing into Iowa, I gave a silent cheer that I was now making progress and was into a new state. About the only thing of interest there was the fact that the gravel roads one sees running by the freeway are white, not reddish brown like Minnesota. Thankfully, it did not seem like a long time getting through this totally uninteresting state.
On to Missouri. Just cutting across the top corner as a way to get to Kansas. Traveling around Kansas City and into Kansas itself. Although I did not have much time to observe the passing scenery in any detail, Missouri and Kansas were a bit more interesting. Lusher, hillier terrain and not so many corn fields. It was interesting to see the greening of America as I traveled further south. When I left Minnesota, the grass was up and green but the leaves had not yet returned. As I traveled south, I started to see more and more green and the trees were in leaf. Field crops were actually starting to come up in places. I was also impressed with the miles of wildflowers growing in the median. Great clumps of pink and purple flowers, dotted occasionally with some orange. It was very nice.
Past Kansas City and cutting across the state to Wichita. I had planned to stay somewhere around Wichita the first night, but I still had two hours of daylight left so I kept driving. It is amazing that the longer one drives, the longer one can drive. Road signs stating hundreds of miles to the next big city start losing their meaning and have little impression. I spent the first night in South Haven, KS, very, very glad to stop moving and to get out of the merciless wind.
The first day I drove 15 hours and covered 755 miles. Due to the wind and the Jeep being a 4 cylinder engine, I went through gas like crazy I had to fill the tank five times.